Arizona Cardinals special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers has done a fantastic job with the organization’s much-maligned unit
The Arizona Cardinals 2018 coaching staff, for the most part, was not worthy of accolades. In fact, a majority of the team’s fans were counting the days until former head coach Steve Wilks and his staff were relieved of their duties. One significant assistant from last season was retained, however, and new Cardinals leader Kliff Kingsbury couldn’t be happier.
Jeff Rodgers fully deserved to be back with the organization after the outstanding work he did with the Cards’ special teams. Amos Jones, the current coordinator’s predecessor, had created many awful memories for those who follow the franchise. The Bruce Arians’ disciple was finally given his walking papers at the conclusion of 2017, ending an ugly five-year stay in the desert.
Rodgers basically had to start from scratch after the Jones debacle. Not surprisingly, the special teams guru was up to the challenge. Rodgers transformed what had been a highly-criticized unit into one of the NFL’s best in just one season.
Under Rodgers’ tutelage, rookie Zeke Turner led the league in special teams solo tackles last year with 13. Several other Arizona gunners also joined in on the fun. Chase Edmonds and Dennis Gardeck contributed seven solo stops each, Rudy Ford added six, Brandon Williams chipped in five and Joe Walker registered five as well.
In Andy Lee, the Cardinals possess one of the best punters in football. The three-time Pro Bowler ranked fourth in the NFC in ’18 with a net average of 42.6. Lee punted a whopping 94 times, and was able to drop 32 of those inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Unfortunately, the placekicking position remains an issue. Phil Dawson, one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history, went on the decline after joining the Cards in 2017. Rodgers is hopeful that Dawson’s replacement, former Arizona State Sun Devil Zane Gonzalez, will be much better.
Apparently, Rodgers has made an excellent impression on Kingsbury. A couple of weeks back, the special teams coordinator was handed another job title. Rodgers is now Arizona’s assistant head coach, an honor that allows him to address the entire squad whenever he feels it’s necessary.
As horrible as Wilks’ tenure turned out to be, something good certainly came out of it. The Cardinals’ special teams underwent an incredible transition last season. Rodgers can take all of the credit for that spectacular feat.