Saturday, February 13, 2016

Solving Damaris Johnson's kick/punt return struggles: Grow dreads

If you watched Sunday Night Football this week, you saw Cowboys returner Dwayne Harris take a punt 86 yards for a TD, and a kickoff 90 yards that led to another Cowboys TD. If you'll recall, Harris also returned a punt for a TD against the Eagles last season.

Solving Damaris Johnson's kick/punt return struggles: Grow dreads

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Eagles wide receiver Damaris Johnson (13) is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Dashon Goldson (38) during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O´Meara/AP)
Eagles wide receiver Damaris Johnson (13) is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Dashon Goldson (38) during the first quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

If you watched Sunday Night Football this week, you saw Cowboys returner Dwayne Harris take a punt 86 yards for a TD, and a kickoff 90 yards that led to another Cowboys TD. If you'll recall, Harris also returned a punt for a TD against the Eagles last season.

Last week, Browns punt returner Travis Benjamin took a punt to the house against the Bills. Benjamin of course took over return duties in Cleveland from the great Josh Cribbs. Cribbs is the co-all-time NFL leader in kick return TDs, and went to 3 Pro Bowls.

The Chiefs' Dexter McCluster broke a game open this season when he returned a punt for a TD against the Giants. He's 4th in the NFL in punt return average. 

And last but not least, through Week 5, Vikings rookie Cordarrelle Patterson led the NFL in kick return average, at 33.8 yards a pop.

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What do Harris, Benjamin, McCluster, Cribbs, and Patterson have in common? They all have dreads!

That brings us to the Bears' Devin Hester. Hester is widely considered the best returner in the history of the NFL. Prior to the 2012 season, Hester cut off his dreads, and has not returned a kick or punt for a TD since.

He had returned 17 kicks/punts for TDs before he cut off his dreads. In chart form:

The Conclusion: Dreads = Increased kick/punt return ability.

Eagles kick/punt returner Damaris Johnson has struggled this season, and I attribute his struggles to a lack of dreads. Eagles special teams coach Dave Fipp needs to instruct Johnson to begin growing out his hair immediately, or they should think about signing Whoopi Goldberg.

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