On The Clock NFL Mock Draft from Fanspeak.com

Breaking Down Brandon Banks' Kickoff Returns

June 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

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Brandon Banks is one of the biggest lightening rod discussions among Redskins fans. As his supporters say that he's a threat to take it to the house at any time. While his detractors point to his poor yards per return, fumbling issues, and lack of utility. Since one of the primary discussion points has been whether or not the new kickoff rule has neutralized Banks' value, I thought it would be good to look at all of his kickoff returns from last year, and see just how much of an impact he had.

All Play-by-Play data is from the ESPN.com Game Logs: (note: negative numbers indicate how many yards deep in the end zone Banks was. Also, kicks labeled as "Touchback" had no description as to whether or not Banks fielded the ball or not)

Week 1: NY Giants-

1. received at the 1, returned 24 yards to the 25 yard line

2. received at the -6, returned 24 yards to the 18 yard line

3. Touchback

Week 2: Arizona Cardinals

1. received at the -1, returned 25 yards to the 24 yard line

2. received at the -8, returned 23 yards to the 15 yard line

3. received at the -8, returned 31 yards to the 23 yard line

4. received at the 1, returned 26 yards to the 27 yard line

Week 3: Dallas Cowboys

1. received at the 7, returned 23 yards to the 30 yard line

2. received at the 1, returned 15 yards to the 16 yard line

3. Touchback (kicked out of the end zone)

4. Tochback received at the -2

5. received at the 2, returned 23 yards to the 25 yard line

6. received at the -2, returned 19 yards to the 17 yard line

7. received at the goalline, returned 20 yards to the 20 yard line

Game 4: St. Louis Rams

1. received at the -2, returned 20 yards to the 18 yard line

2. received at the -1, returned 15 yards to the 14 yard line

3. Touchback, received at the -8

Game 5: Philadelphia Eagles

1. received at the -4, returned 29 yards to the 25 yard line

2. received at the -5, fumbles in the end zone (on himself), recovers and gets pushed out at the 10. A holding penalty is enforced making the line of scrimmage the 5.

3. received at the -8, returned 23 yards to the 15 yard line.

4. received at the -5, returned 35 yards to the 30 yard line

5. received at the -7, returned 47 yards to the 40 yard line

Week 6: Carolina Panthers

1. Touchback

2. Touchback

3. kicked 35 yards to Paulsen obvious squib kick at end of half.

4. Touchback

5. received at -7, returned 25 yards to the 18 yard line

6. Touchback

7. Touchback

8. Touchback

Week 7: Buffalo Bills

1. received -4, touchback

2. received at the -4, returned 18 yards to the 14 yard line

3. received at the -4, returned 19 yards to the 15 yard line

4. received at the -8, touchback

5. received at the -2, returned 26 yards to the 24 yard line

Week 8: 49ers

1. Touchback

2. received at the -1, returned 22 yards to the 21 yard line

3. returned by Paul

4. received at the -7, returned 34 yards to the 27 yard line

5. received at the 5, returned 14 yards to the 19 yard line

6. received at the 1, returned 23 yards to the 24 yard line (kick from the 30 after a penalty)

Week 9: Dolphins

1. Touchback

2. Touchback

3. Touchback

4. received -4, returned 20 yards to the 16 yard line

5. received at the goal line, returned 18 yards to the 18 yard line

Week 10: Cowboys

1. received at the 5, returned 20 yards to the 25 yard line

2. received at the -8, touchback

3. received at the goal line, returned 23 yards to the 23 yard line

4. received at the -5, returned 27 yards to the 22 yard line

5. received at the -8, touchback

Week 11: Seahawks

1. Touchback

2. received by Mike Sellers on a short kick

3. Touchback

4. received at the 11, returned 19 yards to the 30 yard line (kick from the 20 due to penalty)

Week 12: Jets

1. received at the -1, returned 19 yards to the 18 yard line

2. received at the -2, returned to the 6 then lateraled to Armstrong who returned it to the 34 yard line

3. received at the 9, returned 11 yards to the 20 yard line

4. received at the goal line, returned 24 yards to the 24 yard line

5. received at the 3, returned 17 yards to the 20 yard line

6. received at the 4, returned 41 yards to the 45 yard line

7. received at the 2, returned 16 yards to the 18 yard line

Week 13: Patriots

1. received at the 3, returned 18 yards to the 21 yard line

2. received at the -1, returned 20 yards to the 19 yard line

3. received at the goal line, returned 16 yards to the 16 yard line

4. received at the -1, returned 23 yards to the 22 yard line

5. received at the 5, returned 23 yards to the 28 yard line

6. received at the 5, returned 17 yards to the 22 yard line (a penalty pushed them back to the 12)

Week 14: Giants

1. received at the -2, returned 20 yards to the 18 yard line

2. end of the half squib kick to Paulsen

3. Onside kick

Week 15: Vikings

1. Touchback

2. received -8, touchback

3. kick out of bounds

4. received at the 14, returned for 43 yards to the Minn. 43 yard line

5. received at the 9, returned for 15 yards, to the 24 yard line (holding penalty sets them back to the 14)

6. received at the -3, returned 22 yards to the 19 yard line

7. Touchback

Week 16: Eagles

1. Touchback

2. Touchback

3. Touchback

4. Touchback

5. Touchback

6. received at the -5, returned 38 yards to the 33 yard line

7. received at the 12, returned 19 yards to the 31, fumbled, recovered by the Skins at the 27 (kick was from the 20 yard line)

What it all means:

Well the first thing that stands out is that it is pretty clear that Banks didn't have much of a positive impact on the return game. Few times did he ever 'break one', and usually that was on kicks that were either short, or kicked from further away. If you want to see how the rule affected Banks and the return game, there were at least 6 games where the number of touchbacks/onside/squib kicks effectively neutralized the kick return team.

Another thing that is immediately apparent is the idea that Redskins penalties negated major kickoff returns (they might have in 2010, but not last year). Banks cannot blame the failure of his blockers for hurting his average by taking away some of his best returns.

The most striking thing to me though is the sheer number of kicks Banks returned in the end zone and what that all means. When we see that Banks had 1,173 yards last season, or a 23 yard per return average, we need to remember that it includes the yardage from how deep he was in the end zone.  Now if you add all those yards up together Banks got an extra 106 yards from his end zone returns, which if you take out from his average brings it down to 20.9 yards per return. To look how ineffective Banks was in returning kicks from the end zone I decided to look at what the difference in yardage was between Banks returning those kicks, compared to if he just took a knee every time, and the added yards totaled 10.

To break this down further what I was doing was looking at where Banks got the ball to (note I eliminated the return where Banks lateraled to Armstrong, since you can't give him credit for those yards, and he shouldn't have it count against him). So if Banks got to the 24 but there was a penalty, he still gets credit for +4 yards, if he only got to the 15 yard line, that is a -5 yards. So in 26 applicable returns, Banks only gained an additional 10 yards for the offense, as opposed to just taking a knee (and it wasn't until his final one that he turned in a positive number). Of those 26 returns he brought out, 15 of them he failed to make the 20 yard line, losing the Skins free yards. Those 26 returns represent over half of his overall returns, showing just how little impact he had in the kick-off return game.

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  • http://fanspeak.com/members/jcmanuel/ John Manuel

    Waste of spot. Terrence Austin or Anthony Armstrong could equal that for sure. I still think Santana will be in play for punt returns this season

  • matt

    I like the analysis. One thing it doesn't (or rather, can't) take into account is how simply Banks' presence affects the opponents' kickoff game. Just because you replace Banks with, say, a touchback robot doesn't mean you get the exact same production–kickers will respond differently depending on who they're kicking to. In other words, your analysis probably understates–or puts a lower bound–on Banks' impact on the kickoff game.

    With that said, the best returners will always find a way to rip off big returns. Banks hasn't done that.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/steveospeak/ Steve Shoup

      @Matt-

      I understand what you are saying, but it appears that teams weren't too afraid of Banks. The squib kicks were end of half/game decisions that would be made regardless of who are returner was. And teams didn't seem to be actively trying to kick it away from Banks. Sure there is some directional kicking, but those kickers would do that for anyone (i.e. Gano). Banks just wasn't dynamic or made kickers pay for kicking it to him. Teams were easily able to dictate the return game, which is not good.

    • http://fanspeak.com/members/rvaparks/ Parks Smith

      @matt

      I hate to say, but I'm pretty sure no coach or kicker is afraid of Banks. It's not like they are kicking it away from him or squibing.