Six weeks ago, in our article Cap Maneuvers, Giants360 suggested that long snapper Zak DeOssie could be among those Giants released in a salary cap saving transaction. That statement was based on his declining grades on Pro Football Focus (PFF), the website that independently grades every player on every play for every NFL game, and DeOssie’s high salary for a long snapper. In 2014, DeOssie was the third lowest rated long snapper in the NFL, but he was the second highest paid, based on the information tabulated no Over The Cap.com.
The reaction from Giants360 readers to DeOssie’s being included on this list was among the most virulent of any article posted. Trey Junkin was invoked. Your humble author’s mental capacity was questioned. Many pointed out that DeOssie had only a handful of bad snap last season, and is among the first to make tackles on punt returns. In order to gain clarity, Giants360 reached out to PFF to gain a better understanding of how long snappers are rated, and what went into DeOssie’s low rating for both 2013 and 2014.
Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon), analyst for PFF, hails from Scotland and is in charge of Special Teams ratings for the site. He confirmed that long snappers are evaluated based on their snapping the ball, blocking, and ability to get down field to make tackles. The issue with DeOssie are his inaccurate snaps. While not inherently bad, DeOssie’s snaps are frequently off target, requiring the holder on field goals and extra point, or the punter, in this case, the same man, Steve Weatherford, to maneuver to catch and position the ball. That extra step interferes with crucial timing, especially on field goals, and can lead to missed kicks and mistimed punts. In extreme situations, the kick or punt just can’t be attempted as a result of the poor snap.
“DeOssie is one of the weaker snappers in the league,” states McGuinness, “Many of his snaps are just a bit inaccurate.” Backing up his statements are the images included in this article. One clearly shows a snap on the ground on a field goal attempt against the Seattle Seahawks. Others are high and low snaps to Weatherford. Because the punter was able to handle the snap and get the punt away, the inaccurate snap is often forgotten, but not by the graders at PFF. It’s one of the reasons they are a highly recommended subscription site by Giants360 as the information provided cannot be found elsewhere online.
DeOssie is not without his merits. He’s lead all long snappers in special teams tackles for the past two seasons with 6 and 7, respectively, in 2013 and 2014. While that may not sound like much, it’s a big number considering the low number of opportunities special teamers get in a game. McGuinness considers DeOssie one of the best long snappers in the NFL at getting down field to make tackles, confirming the assertion many of you originally put forth.
His blocking is average, well within the acceptable parameters for other long snappers in the league, allowing one to draw the conclusion that DeOssie’s declining rating (It decreased in each of the past two seasons) is a function of his increasingly inaccurate long snaps. Concerning, to say the least, as this is his primary function on the team.
At the conclusion of our interview, I put McGuinness on the spot, asking him if, appointed Special Teams Coach of the Giants, would he replace DeOssie. “I would certainly look to see what other long snappers were out there,” replied McGuinness. He went on the point out that DeOssie would likely find employment elsewhere in the NFL, if released. His ability to make tackles down field has value on special teams and would merit a look by another team. “It’s a matter of what’s valued by the team,” explains McGuinness, “If getting down field is emphasized more than accurate long snaps, the Giants will keep him.”
The Giants reportedly took a look at Navy long snapper Joe Cardona, the top in the 2015 draft, indicating that replacing DeOssie is at least a consideration for the team. Given his $1.2 million salary cap figure for 2015, a more cost efficient option should be considered. To improve Special Teams, every player needs to be put in the cross hairs, and DeOssie’s inaccurate snapping places him squarely in the center of the target.
Many thanks for Gordon McGuinness and his team at Pro Football Focus for taking the time to go through the details of DeOssie’s performance so we could bring you this information. Giants360 is committed to going around the world bring you detailed analysis on the team that other sites don’t. Your reaction to our February article made this follow up happen, a testament to the interactive nature of the Giants360 community.
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