The annual rankings of NFL special teams by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News have been out for awhile. But they are worth revisiting.
The Seahawks ranked No. 11 with 330 points, based on a points-awarded formula in 22 categories – one for best in the league, 32 for last. That 11th place finish looks even better when you consider the offense ranked No. 21 and the defense No. 24 during the Seahawks’ 5-11 season.
Two of the main reasons the Seahawks jumped from No. 15 in 2008 to No. 11 last season were, of course, punter Jon Ryan, who set the franchise record for average (46.2 yards) and tied the mark for net average (38.7); and kicker Olindo Mare, who made his last 21 field-goal attempts to set a club record, missed only two field goals all season and also was fifth in the league with 22 touchbacks on his kickoffs.
Bruce DeHaven, who coached those units, is now in Buffalo – where the Bills’ special teams ranked No. 3 last season after being No. 1 in 2008.
The Browns topped the rankings for ’09 with 215.5 points – 41 lower than the runner up Buccaneers. Wedged between the Bills and Seahawks were the Cowboys, Jets, Bears, Chargers, Cardinals, Vikings and Dolphins.
The Panthers ranked last with 473 points. The Saints were No. 29, the lowest ranking ever for a Super Bowl winner.
Brian Schneider, the Seahawks new special teams coach, held the same position with the Raiders in 2008 – when they made the biggest jumped, going from 26th to fifth. Last season, when Schneider was at USC, the Raiders slipped to No. 13.