The Chicago Bears' Special Teams unit is one of the best in the NFL. Dave Toub consistently puts together a unit that excels in all facets of the game. The 2010 season should be no different. While we're all riveted to the progress of the offense & defense and individual position competitions during the preseason, it's comforting to know that the special teams unit will once again dominate the Bears' opponents. We will not worry about coverages, field goals, & returns. Toub's men know what to do.
In 2009, the Chicago Bears' special teams was once again one of the best in the NFL. Individually, Tim Shaw & Johnny Knox were two of the best rated at what they do. Robbie Gould, Corey Graham, and Danieal Manning were also very good.
According to Football Outsiders, the Bears' special teams ranked 3rd in overall DVOA (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average). Minnesota, Detroit, and Green Bay were 4th, 31st, & 32nd respectively.
FO ranks special teams in 5 categories: Field Goals/Extra Points, Kickoffs, Kick Returns, Punts, & Punt Returns. For a description on how they calculate their numbers, go here. The Bears were a well rounded group.
Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News compiles a special teams ranking based on 22 criteria.
The league's 32 teams are ranked in 22 categories and assigned points according to their standing – one for the best, 32 for the worst. The Browns finished first in special teams with a composite score of 215.5 – a whopping 41 points better than runner-up Tampa Bay.
According to Rick's rankings, the Bears are 6th in the NFL. Minnesota, Detroit, & Green Bay were ranked 9th, 25th, & 31st respectively. There is some continuity between these two very different sets of rankings. The bottom line is that the Bears are good, we all know that. They will continue to be good this season.
The Bears' special teams feature some impressive individual talent, as rated by ProFootballFocus.com.
Tim Shaw had the best ranking among 1,132 players ranked. Link He was number 1. Corey Graham ranked 22nd, Nick Roach 53rd, Craig Steltz & Israel Idonije tied for 114th. That's 5 guys in the top 10% of the league who will all be back this year. New additions Brian Iwuh and Tim Jennings also tied for the 114th ranking. (Rashied Davis checks in at 1,041st btw)
In the return game, Johnny Knox pulled down the 4th ranking in Kick Returns. Danieal Manning ranked 14th. On the Punt Return side of things, Earl Bennett ranked 15th, Devin Hester 20th. There's room for improvement here, but the Bears have solid guys back there.
On the kicking side of things, Robbie Gould is solid. He ranked 21st, however, he moves up to 13th in the NFL if we just rank FGs and XPs, removing kickoffs. We know he is one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL. He should have another great season this year.
Brad Maynard disappoints by ranking 39th on the PFF.com list of punters. He does rank 10th in the NFL with 28 punts inside the 20 yard line. This is why he's on the Bears. This is what Toub asks him to do. So, at least for this year, I'm still OK with Maynard back there.
Both as a team & individually, the Chicago Bears have an impressive special teams unit. Take a bow Dave Toub, and keep up the great work this season.