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Dolphins, Bucs taking care of a special offseason issue

Most NFL teams run the ball just over 400 times a season and pass the ball somewhere between 450-550 times.

We could discuss the passing and running of your favorite team all day long, but most teams also execute between the same number of special teams plays, and there is rarely a thought about the importance of those 400-plus plays.

There were two NFL teams that went into free agency with the intent to bolster their special teams. In the first two weeks of free agency, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Miami Dolphins have targeted players who can cover on punts and kickoffs, as well as block on the return units.

Bill Parcells has always gone to a new team and fixed the special teams first before attacking all other issues. The Dolphins have already signed the No. 5 and No. 18 special teams players in the league by percentage of special teams plays. The Dolphins didn't stop there, adding three other guys with major special teams plays in 2007.

Bruce Allen, the GM of the Buccaneers, is the son of legendary coach George Allen, who invented the concept of a special teams coach and knows the value of a solid core of special teams players. Bruce Allen answered Parcells' aggressive signings by picking up the No. 7 and No. 20 players in special teams plays in 2007. He also added three more players with significant snaps in 2007.

Both teams hit the Kansas City Chiefs for players and added a lot of experience. The Dolphins added four new players and re-signed one of their own for 1,420 plays of experience to build their core special teams. The Buccaneers injected 1,183 new special team snaps to their core group.

Draft pressures

It was a shame to see the Denver Broncos terminate the contract of GM Ted Sunquist a month before the draft.

Sunquist will not be out of work long -- if he wants to stay in the business -- because he is very good at what he does and extremely well organized. Usually a team would never let a front office executive go anywhere until after the draft because of what they know about the prospects and the team's intentions. There have been many cases of teams holding onto the personnel people to the day after the draft and releasing them at that point.

Sunquist's release did make me think about how tough the draft really is, and as my mentor Dick Steinberg always said, "It's a crap shoot."

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