New Colts coach Jim Caldwell had another special teams coach in mind, so Russ Purnell became an unrestricted free-agent coach and the Jaguars signed him to a contract to coach a special teams unit whose star was Montell Owens. That was step number one.
Step number two occurred shortly after Purnell was hired, when the Jaguars signed Sean Considine in free agency. Considine had been a special teams star in Philadelphia.
The crowning move was the acquisition of Kassim Osgood in free agency last March. In two short years, Purnell had gone from looking for a job to having the most dominant special teams trio in the league.
Owens, Considine and Osgood will lead the Jaguars special teams into a game this Sunday in which Purnell's units have the potential to deliver the knockout punch. They did it to the Oakland Raiders last Sunday with big play after big play, the biggest of which were the fumble Osgood forced and Owens recovered on a kickoff, and the block Owens made that sprung Deji Karim on a 65-yard kickoff return immediately after the Raiders had tied the score at 31-31 with 1:53 to play.
Coach Jack Del Rio praised the play of his special teams after the game. They were the difference in the outcome.
"We expect to make big plays every week and we hadn't had any big plays. We had been good but nothing special," Purnell said.
Will they be special again this Sunday in Indianapolis, with the AFC South Division title on the line? If there was ever a time to be special, this is it.
"I think there's a chance of that every week. I tell the guys you don't know when the big play is going to occur," Purnell said.
Statistically and otherwise, it would appear the Jaguars will enjoy a significant advantage when the kicking units are on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. Purnell knows the Colts' personnel well and he talked up the likes of Keyunta Dawson and Tyjuan Hagler, but no team has a trio the likes of Owens, Osgood and Considine. They are each Pro-Bowl worthy.
Each team is only allowed to have one player's name on the fan ballot in Pro-Bowl voting. The Jaguars decided to make Owens their rep on the fan ballot. Three names are permitted to be placed on the ballot that goes out to players and coaches.
"He's our veteran. He's been here. He's been a great Jaguar. He deserved it," Purnell said of Owens.
Mike Thomas has been a reliable punt-returner for two seasons, Josh Scobee possesses a strong kickoff leg and highlighted his season with a walk-off, 59-yard field goal against the Colts on Oct. 3, and punter Adam Podlesh has been steady throughout the season. Karim, the rookie sixth-round pick, has provided the home-run potential in the return game that had been lacking.
"The injury affected him a little bit. He wasn't full speed. He's got his confidence back, running well, accelerating like we saw early in the year," Purnell said. "A kickoff return like last week; how many plays would it take for the offense to get down there? We did it in one play."
One such play could decide Sunday's game. It could decide the division title.