Redskins special teams standout Niles Paul said this week that he’s pleased with the unit's new direction under first-year coordinator Ben Kotwica.
“You can see the major improvements out here,” Paul said. “You have lot of people buying into what [Kotwica] is telling us about. We believe. We all want to be a part of this unit. We all want to improve this unit.”
Paul had 11 special teams tackles last season—tied for the second highest total on the Redskins—and a fumble recovery. The tight end was also very critical in December of the unit’s shortcomings after it hit a low point in a season full of them.
After surrendering punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns in an embarrassing home loss to the Chiefs, an emotional Paul called the coverage units “terrible” and added that there were too many players who “think that they’re too good” for special teams duty.
Well, six months later, Paul is convinced the Redskins have the right scheme and the right personnel to enjoy a bounce back season in 2014. Indeed, one of General Manager Bruce Allen’s main tasks this offseason was signing and drafting players who could make significant contributions on the kickoff and punt coverage units.
“We have a lot of people who can help us improve this unit, with the new signees and the rookies,” Paul said. “We have a bunch of guys, 11 guys, who want to be out there. They want to play. They want to make plays. We feed off each other.”
Paul is also high on Kotwica, the former Jets special teams coordinator and a decorated Army veteran. Kotwica replaced Keith Burns, who was fired after only one season on Mike Shanahan’s staff.
“He’s incredible,” Paul said of Kotwica. “With his teachings and how he delivers his message. He’s a real player’s coach. You wouldn’t expect that from a military vet. He has this thing, who wants to join the special forces on special teams? And he’s getting everyone to buy into that.”
And on special teams, sometimes that's half the battle.