Rick Gosselin has been covering the NFL for nearly five decades, and during that time he has devised a methodology for ranking special team units in 22 different categories. The Chicago Bears have been near the bottom of his rankings the last several years, but this season saw a brief uptick from 26th overall (442.5 overall points) in 2018, to 23rd this year (396.5).
Chicago adding Cordarrelle Patterson to the third phase was a big help, but it wasn’t enough to overcome some deficiencies in other areas of their special teams.
The Bears cracked the top five in a few of Gosselin’s categories; 2nd in kickoff returns, 2nd in kickoff starting point, and 5th in opponent field goal percentage.
First year kicker Eddy Pineiro had an up and down year, but a strong finish had him end up 23 for 28 on field goals (82.1%) and 27 of 29 on extra points (93.1%). Those two figures were 18th and 19th in the NFL respectively. His touchback percentage was only 50%, but I wonder how much of his booming leg was affected by his mid-season injury.
Punter Patrick O’Donnell kicked off for a few games and he had a touchback percentage of 64.1%. His average per punt was 44.8, and that was 25th in the NFL, but he tied for 2nd in the league with 26 punts that were fair caught, and tied for 3rd in punts that were downed. His 26 punts inside the twenty yard line ranked 16th.
Here are the other Bears special teams leaders.
Kickoff Returns - Cordarelle Patterson 29.5 avg (2nd in the NFL)
Punt Returns - Tarik Cohen 9.2 avg (5th)
Special Teams Tackles - Nick Kwiatkoski and Sherrick McManis 8 each
For some perspective on these rankings, check out what a couple others had to say.