On the NFL- Vikings special teams players say they feel faster under Ryan Ficken

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Josh Metellus was named Vikings peculiar teams subordinate of the twelvemonth successful 2020. Of course, that unsocial isn't saying a full lot.

"We struggled some, yeah," Metellus said.

Yes. Yes, they did.

So overmuch truthful that manager Mike Zimmer said a grumpy adios to peculiar teams coordinator Marwan Maalouf aft conscionable 2 seasons.

Count Metellus among those who didn't entity to Zimmer's decision.

"We had a batch of worldly gameplan-wise wherever guys were reasoning excessively overmuch astir what to bash [rather] than conscionable playing and making plays," Metellus said. "[Maalouf] was conscionable making america play a small excessively slow, I think."


"Just immoderate things," Metellus said. "Like, OK, knowing that if [the opponent] kicks this way, we bash this and this and that and that. I felt arsenic a rookie, it was a batch of worldly alternatively of conscionable going retired determination and playing."

Don't worry, Josh. Rookies weren't the lone ones feeling that mode successful 2020.

Zimmer felt the aforesaid mode successful his 27th NFL season. So this offseason helium promoted Ryan Ficken, his adjunct peculiar teams coordinator the past 8 years.

A mates of days aft Metellus said Maalouf's schemes slowed players down, Zimmer was asked what helium likes astir astir the changes Ficken has made.

"I deliberation the biggest happening is we've benignant of simplified a batch of things," Zimmer said. "Trying to marque it a small spot much carnal and possibly not truthful overmuch thinking. Just spell play football.

"That's truly what I'm trying to accent to each the coaches close now. It doesn't substance astir the scheme. It matters astir letting these guys play and find retired what they tin do. When they're thinking, they're going to play slower."

Metellus, a 5-11, 207-pound information and a sixth-round prime retired of Michigan, played a team-high 261 peculiar teams snaps successful 2020. He besides led the Vikings with 8 peculiar teams tackles.

"The cardinal to peculiar teams is you conscionable got to privation to bash it," helium said. "I privation to play against the best, and peculiar teams is simply a mode for maine to bash that.

"Knowing an Adam Thielen and his story, however helium had to enactment his mode up done peculiar teams arsenic an undrafted guy, that's my large motivations."

Thielen was asked astir being a peculiar teams relation model. The 30-year-old smiled and told a communicative astir a speech helium gave successful the peculiar teams gathering country recently.

"I felt thing connected my bosom that I was reasoning about," helium said. "A batch of them, honestly, earlier I talked to the radical didn't adjacent truly cognize that I played peculiar teams. But I've been successful their shoes."

Those Purple shoes were tiny successful 2020.

Kicker Dan Bailey missed 10 kicks successful the last 5 games. Long snapper Austin Cutting was chopped aft 9 games. Against the Lions successful Week 9, the Vikings gave up 2 blocked punts. Against the Bears a week later, they gave up a 104-yard kickoff instrumentality for a touchdown to Cordarrelle Patterson.

The Vikings besides ranked past successful the league successful punt instrumentality mean (4.3), punts wrong the 20 (11), tract extremity percent (68.1) and opponents' mean starting constituent connected kickoff returns (27.2). Overall, they ranked 31st successful longtime NFL newsman Rick Gosselin's highly respected peculiar teams rankings.

Metellus hopes to assistance alteration that arsenic a peculiar teams person this season. He plays connected each peculiar team.

In the preseason opener, a 33-6 nonaccomplishment to Denver, helium "played fast" connected the archetypal kickoff coverage. So accelerated that helium made the tackle astatine the Denver 15-yard line.

Overall, the peculiar teams were beneath mean successful the opener. In Saturday's 12-10 nonaccomplishment to the Colts, they were overmuch amended but inactive inconsistent.

They gave up a 31-yard instrumentality connected the opening kickoff. They had 2 two-yard punt returns. They had a punt nett conscionable 29 yards. They failed to scope the 25-yard enactment connected a kickoff return. Greg Joseph missed a 51-yard tract goal.

But …

They besides had a 41-yard kickoff instrumentality by rookie Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Joseph's palmy 49-yard tract goal, and a towering 47-yard punt that ended with rookie linebacker Chazz Surratt blowing up returner Isaiah Rodgers for nary gain. And, yes, Surratt was playing fast. Very fast.

"That's however Ryan wants guys playing," said Metellus, who had 2 much peculiar teams tackles connected punt returns of 1 and 4 yards. "Go each retired and play arsenic hard arsenic you can. Make a mistake, but marque it astatine afloat speed. That's what Zim and him some say. A lot."

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