It’s a troubling trend that began when the New York Jets’ Joe McKnight returned a kick 107 yards Oct. 2, continued when the Arizona Cardinals’ Patrick Peterson returned a punt 82 yards Oct. 30, and was capped when the Cleveland Browns’ Joshua Cribbs returned a punt 84 yards Saturday.
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Cribbs’ score occurred when punter Sam Koch was unable to pin the Browns returner along the left sideline, according to coach John Harbaugh. That allowed Cribbs to find a lane along the right hash before cutting across the field and making his way towards the front left pylon of the end zone.
Linebacker Edgar Jones said the players on the punt coverage team also weren’t on the same page when running down the field.
“We can’t give up touchdowns,” he said. “I felt like at some point, it might be miscommunication, people not staying in their lanes, but we’ve all got to be accountable for it. So just get back in there on Monday, watch the film, see what happened, correct it, and know that we can’t give up touchdowns. I feel like that gave them momentum, and that was the reason why they kind of got back in the game. We’re going to work our butts off to get it back straight.”
The spate of scores on special teams has encouraged some fans to question whether Jerry Rosburg is the right special teams coordinator for the team. McClellan disagreed with such a sentiment.
“Coach Rosburg is a great coach,” McClellan said. “He takes it real serious, and we as individuals take it seriously for him because we know everybody’s jobs are on the line. We’re doing a good job. We’ve just got to eliminate the small mistakes. Every one we gave up has been a great returner, been a physical returner, and once we eliminate them, his job is secure.”