DETROIT (97.1 The Ticket) Retired Detroit Lions linebacker Zack Follett — known as a demon on the field — knows a thing or two about special teams.
And what he’s seeing from the Lions in the first games of the season isn’t impressive.
“In all honesty, I’m seeing guys coming down the field and just kind of giving themselves up to the double team,” Follett said during an interview on the Karsch and Anderson show on 97.1 The Ticket. “If you look down there and you hit that wedge as hard as you can, it’s going to disrupt the kick returner … so it’s not just a huge hole to run a truck through like we’ve been seeing … That’s all it really takes. It’s not a real glorified position, but I think it’s crucial.”
Reckless abandon is what’s required of a special teams player — Follett knows that, since he a concussion ended his career after only two seasons. It’s not the best thing for the player, he said, but it is the best thing for the team.
“Going in, at that time, I think I was probably one of the only guys that was going all out,” Follett said. “I was a rookie trying to prove something. I remember veterans on the team saying, ‘You have to slow down, don’t go so hard …. You want your body to hold up.’ I wanted to listen to their advice, but unfortunately I was in no position to go easy out there.
“They were correct, I was two years done.”
He added that when he played, it was with a fire that he’s just not seeing today.
“Special teams is something that’s not one of the more glorified positions on the field … I just kind of had a passion for the game, and taking that to special teams I just brough a fire with me,” Follett said. “I had a chip on my shoulder … I wanted to hit people as hard as I could, I was definitely never fearful going out there on the field.
“In my mind I saw myself as a missile seeking anything in my way and hitting it as hard as I could … I’m not seeing too much of that.”
So, whose fault is the lackluster special teams performance? Follett said it’s not the fault of coach Jim Schwartz or special teams coordinator Danny Crossman. that leaves one to blame: the players.
“I got to play for Danny Crossman and he has a good scheme, he’s not a rookie coach,” Follett said. “If they’re not going to go out there and get the job done … Everyone wants to blame someone, but truthful opinion, I don’t think he’s to blame.”
He added that new NFL rules about concussions could be hampering play.
“I can see guys just kind of going through the motions running down and things are happening the way they are … You just need a guy to set the bar, if one guy is running down blowing dudes up (others will follow.)”
What will happen next? Follett said special teams players need to get crazy.
“What it takes for a kickoff, you have to have your mind mentally right, my job sometimes is to hit a two-man wedge … (each) 300 pounds, a 600 pound wall … My job is to destroy both those guys. I mean if you don’t have a little crazy in you, you’re not going to be the best special teams player.”