The Cowboys were one of the worst at kickoff coverage in 2008. They had no touchbacks on 77 kickoffs and allowed an average starting position of the 29.3-yard line following a kickoff. They fired special teams coach Bruce Read after the season and drafted David Buehler as their kickoff specialist.
A year ago, Buehler led the NFL in touchbacks with 29 and ranked second in the NFL with an average starting position of the 22.8-yard line following a kickoff.
This year, they're playing like it's 2008.
They rank 29th in average drive start allowed following a kickoff. Opponents are averaging the 26.7-yard line after a kickoff.
Part of the problem is Buehler isn't spending as much time working on his kickoffs. He is doubling as the field-goal kicker this season. Buehler has only three touchbacks this season, with only 55.6 percent of his kickoffs being downed in the end zone. The other problem is the Cowboys have replaced some of their better special teams players, including Pat Watkins, with younger players.
Wade Phillips admitted youth is hurting the Cowboys' special teams right now.
"I think some of it is. I hate to see it that way, but I think some of it is," he said.
Phillips said the team is evaluating whether to change some personnel on special teams. That could mean some defensive starters playing special teams.
"We’re going to evaluate all our personnel and what we’re doing and go from there," Phillips said.
-- Charean Williams