Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News has revealed his annual special teams rankings. Each year they rank all 32 NFL teams in 22 different special teams categories, and then assign points depending on where they rank. The top team in each category receives 1 point, with the second team receiving 2, so on down to the worst team getting 32 points in each category.
Special teams are often an afterthought, or referred to as the 3rd phase, but check out this nugget dug up by Gosselin.
“Three of the NFL's Top 11 defenses qualified for the playoffs this past season. Six of the Top 11 offenses qualified for the playoffs. But seven of top 11 special teams qualified, including the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and division champs Dallas, Kansas City and Seattle.”
Special teams can flip field position, something us Chicago Bears fans found out first hand with the great Devin Hester returning kicks and punts. The Lovie Smith era of Bears’ teams put a great emphasis on special teams, even putting starting defensive players on some units. Maybe that’s some of the reason why he went 81-63 (.563) during is time coaching the Bears. Then again, maybe it was the stellar coaching from special teams coordinator Dave Toub.
What ever the reason, I’m sure we can all agree that we haven’t had very good special teams in Chicago these last few years.
In Gosselin's 2016 NFL special teams rankings, the Bears ranked 27th overall, with a composite score of 444.5. The Philadelphia Eagles were tops, with a 226.5, and the San Diego Chargers were last, at 514.
His rankings had the Bears dead last in punt coverage (12.8 yards) and opponent field goal percentage (94.3%).
I think if the quality of the depth on the roster continues to increase, we’ll see Chicago’s special teams improve.
What level of importance do you guys put in the 3rd phase?