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Now in his 24th season as an NFL coach, Joe DeCamillis enters his third season as the Dallas Cowboys special teams coordinator after two seasons in which Dallas' special teams units flourished under his guidance. DeCamillis has served as the team's special teams coach in 18 of his previous 23 years as an NFL coach, and in 15 of the last 17 seasons, a player on DeCamillis' special teams unit has returned either a punt or a kickoff for a touchdown. In total, DeCamillis coached units have racked up 25 returns for touchdowns (15 via punts and 10 via kickoff returns).
Punter Mat McBriar earned his second Pro Bowl nomination in 2010 as he led the league in both gross (47.9) and net (41.7) averages. It marked the first time in club history a Dallas punter led the league in both categories. Kicker David Buehler picked up where he left off on kickoffs in 2010, adding 22 touchbacks to finish fourth in the league. As a first-timer on PATs and FGs, Buehler finished 42-of-44 and 24-of-32, respectively. DeCamillis broke in several rookies on special teams, including wide receiver Dez Bryant, who proved he is dangerous in the return game as well. Bryant had two punt returns for touchdowns - a 62-yarder and a 93-yarder – as he became the seventh Cowboy, second as a rookie, to return two punts for touchdowns in a season. Rookie, Bryan McCann also had a punt return for a touchdown - a 97-yarder - for the second-longest punt return in team history. The three punt returns for touchdowns on the year established a single-season club record. Under DeCamillis' guidance, another rookie established a team-best when Danny McCray finished the season with 28 special teams tackles – third-most all-time in team history.
The biggest jump seen in 2009 was in opponents' average starting field position as the Cowboys were second in the NFL in 2009 (22.8-yard line) after finishing 20th in the league in 2008 (29.3). Dallas also jumped spots in punt returns as the club was sixth in the league (10.9 yard-per-return) after finishing 2009 30th with a 6.4-yard average. Patrick Crayton had two punts returned for touchdowns in back-to-back games – one for 76 yards and the other for 82 – to make him the sixth Cowboy with multiple punt return touchdowns in a season and just the second to do it in back-to-back games. Dallas' field goal block team batted away two attempts – one in the season opener at Tampa Bay (9/13) when Gerald Sensabaugh tipped one in the first quarter followed by Jay Ratliff's block in the fourth quarter in the overtime win at Kansas City (10/11). DeCamillis helped break in rookie kickoff specialist Buehler, who finished the season with a club-record 29 touchbacks. Three times in 2009 Buehler had four touchbacks in a game to tie the second-most in a game in club history. Despite finishing 10th in the league in gross average (45.1) and seventh in net yards (39.9), punter McBriar continued his punting prowess under DeCamillis as the Aussie finished third in the NFL with a career-best and club-record 38 punts downed inside opponents' 20-yard line. In Rick Gosselin's (Dallas Morning News) annual special teams rankings, Dallas improved to fourth in 2009 after placing 27th in 2008.
Before landing in Dallas, DeCamillis spent the previous two seasons coaching the Jacksonville Jaguars special teams units, helping the kickoff coverage unit finish fourth in opponents' average starting field position in 2007 (25.8-yard line) and first in 2008 (24.5). DeCamillis' 2008 unit also tied Washington for the fewest opponents' kickoff returns of 20-or-more yards (24) while finishing third in the league in opponents' kickoff return average (19.9). They trailed only Buffalo (19.8) and Pittsburgh (19.1). In 2007 DeCamillis' work with coverage specialist Chad Nkang allowed the rookie to set a single-season franchise record with 30 special teams tackles.
DeCamillis headed up the Atlanta Falcons special teams units from 1997-2006 During DeCamillis' tenure, the Falcons punt coverage team allowed an NFL-low 6.1 yards-per-return with only one return for a touchdown. The Falcons also had the third-most touchbacks (126), the second-most kickoff returns for touchdowns (eight) and the second-most total return touchdowns (13) during that span.
In 2006 the Falcons led the NFL as their opponents had an average starting position at the 23.6-yard line. They ranked fourth in the NFL with 47 kickoff returns of 20-plus yards and second in allowing only 26 kickoff returns of 20-plus yards.
In 2005 the Falcons were one of just four teams ranked in the NFL's top-10 in both kickoff coverage (first) and punt coverage (eighth). Kicker Todd Peterson made 18 consecutive field goals and converted 23-of-25 field goal attempts. His 92.0 field goal conversion percentage tied for fourth in the league and was second all-time in team record books. Punt returner Allen Rossum finished second in the NFL in punt returns in 2004 (12.4) and was named to the Pro Bowl. The 2003 Falcons special teams ranked second in the NFL for kickoff coverage, allowing 19.4 yards-per-return, and punt return average (14.3).
Jay Feely set Atlanta's team record for most field goals (32) and most points (138) in a season in 2002 while punter Chris Mohr led the NFL in net punting average (38.7). DeCamillis' punt return unit in 1999 had only 26 punts returned against them for 119 yards, which was the lowest in the NFL and 10th-lowest in the league since 1978. His 1998 unit surrendered only 112 punt return yards, the seventh-lowest in the NFL in a single season since 1978.
DeCamillis spent four seasons (1993-96) as special teams coach with the New York Giants under Dan Reeves, and in 1996, his punt coverage unit led the NFL with 32 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. The club's punt return unit was sixth in the NFL (11.4) with two touchdowns scored.
DeCamillis began his coaching career in Denver as defensive quality control and assistant special teams coach from 1988-92 when former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips was the team's defensive coordinator (1989-92).
DeCamillis was an all-state quarterback and wrestler at Arvada, Colo., High School and went on to become an All-America wrestler at Wyoming. DeCamillis and his wife, Dana, have two daughters, Caitlin and Ashley.
Joe DeCamillis: Born June 29, 1965, Arvada, Colo. Did not play football while at Wyoming. Pro Coach: Denver Broncos 1988-92, New York Giants 1993-96, Atlanta Falcons 1997-2006, Jacksonville Jaguars 2007-08, Dallas Cowboys 2009-10.