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Interesting article on special teams

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Interesting article on special teams

Post  Big_Pete on Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:24 pm

Following up comments about the Giants poor special teams


Special teams rankings: Browns find bright spot after tough year

10:52 PM CST on Saturday, February 13, 2010

By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News

The football axiom is offense, defense and special teams each account for a third of the game.

But in Cleveland, special teams accounted for at least two-thirds of what made the Browns tick in 2009.

The Browns finished 32nd in the NFL in offense and 31st in defense but still managed to win five games. That's because Cleveland fielded the league's best special teams, according to rankings compiled annually by The Dallas Morning News.

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.

Four division winners finished in the top 10 in special teams: No. 4 Dallas, No. 7 San Diego , No. 8 Arizona and No. 9 Minnesota . The New Orleans Saints finished 29th the worst ranking ever for a Super Bowl champion.

Cleveland's Brad Seely has worked this magic before in the kicking game. He was special teams coach of the top-ranked Indianapolis Colts in 1992, then won three Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots this decade before joining the Browns in 2009.

"It's an attitude," Seely said. "It's guys taking pride in what you're doing and wanting to be good feeling like they can be a positive factor in a football game.

"We've always stressed that wherever I've been special teams can help us win games. It's a tangible thing ... a belief that we can be the best at what we do this year."

Cleveland won only one of its first 12 games, defeating Buffalo, 6-3, on a pair of field goals by Billy Cundiff . Cleveland's Blake Costanzo recovered a fumbled punt by Roscoe Parrish at the Buffalo 17 late in the game to set up the winning field goal.

In victory No. 2, a 13-6 win over Pittsburgh in December, Josh Cribbs returned a punt 55 yards to set up the first field goal of the game. Meanwhile, punter Reggie Hodges pinned the Steelers inside their own 15 with four punts to tilt the field in Cleveland's favor all night.

In a 41-34 win over Kansas City for victory No. 3, the Browns got kickoff returns of 103 and 100 yards for touchdowns by Cribbs. Phil Dawson then kicked three field goals each in season-ending victories over Oakland (23-9) and Jacksonville (23-17).

"You always talk about the hidden yardage on special teams," Seely said. "But this [season] was a case where the yards weren't so hidden. Our special teams were a factor in games, and everybody could see it."

The best player on the Browns was Cribbs, who was selected to the Pro Bowl as the AFC kick returner. He ran back three kickoffs and one punt for touchdowns in 2009 and finished among the team's leading kick-coverage players with nine tackles. Cribbs also started at receiver and took quarterback snaps in the Wildcat formation.

The Browns finished first in four of the 22 special teams categories, including kickoff coverage and points scored. Cleveland finished in the top five in seven other categories and the top 10 in two more.

The Cowboys hired Joe DeCamillis as special teams coach last year and made the biggest leap in the rankings 23 spots. The Cowboys climbed from 27th in 2008 to fourth this season.
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Re: Interesting article on special teams

Post  Big_Pete on Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:28 pm

for the record

The NFL's 32 teams are ranked in 22 kicking-game categories and assigned points according to their standing in each category (one for the best through 32 for the worst). This is a composite score for those categories:

Rk. Team Points
1. Cleveland 215.5
2. Tampa Bay 256.5
3. Buffalo 274
4. Cowboys 288
5. NY Jets 296.5
6. Chicago 302
7. San Diego 320
8. Arizona 320.5
9. Minnesota 325.5
10. Miami 327.5
11. Seattle 330
12. Kansas City 341
13. Oakland 342.5
14. Atlanta 357
15. Pittsburgh 360.5
16. New England 361.5
17. Philadelphia 367.5
18. Baltimore 369
18. St. Louis 369
20. NY Giants 384
21. San Francisco 391
22. Houston 394.5
23. Cincinnati 397
24. Denver 402
25. Detroit 413.5
26. Tennessee 424
27. Washington 426.5
28. Indianapolis 432.5
29. New Orleans 441.5
30. Jacksonville 452
31. Green Bay 460.5
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