Well-respected Dallas Morning News sports columnist Rick Gosselin has come out with his annual special teams rankings, and the Vikings came out on top. Gosselin, who covers all sports in his columns but is an especially astute football observer, ranks the NFL special teams groups each season and does so by ranking all 32 units in 22 categories and assigning points according to their standing – 1 for the best, 32 for the worst.
“Minnesota booted the most field goals, committed the fewest turnovers and allowed the fewest points in the NFL this season on special teams,” Gosselin wrote. Gosselin also noted that the Vikings finished in the top five in seven other categories and the top 10 in four more. Blair Walsh was the standout performer for the Vikings special teams group this season, converting 35 of 38 FG tries and hitting 10 of 10 attempts from 50+ yards. Walsh also set a team record for touchbacks and he finished the regular season with 141 points, the second-highest scoring season in team history.
Gosselin also credited Vikings Special Teams Coordinator Mike Priefer for the team’s improvement in this area, nothing that Priefer is a seccond generation special teams coach (his father, Chuck, coached 17 years in the NFL for Detroit and San Diego). Under Priefer’s direction, the Vikings special teams group vaulted from 29th in 2011 to 1st this year, which represents the best single-season improvement in the 33-year history of the rankings. The Vikings finshed with 253.5 points, and the next closest team in the rankings was the Cincinnait Bengals at 276.
Here’s a link to the full rankings, but the content is behind a paywall so you’ll have to pony up some coin in order to see the entire piece. Here’s a list of the 22 categories Gosselin uses in his rankings: kickoff return, punt return, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, average starting field position after kickoff, opponent’s average starting field position after kickoff, punting, net punting, inside-the-20 punts, opponent’s punting, opponent’s net punting, field goals, field goal percentage, opponent’s field goal percentage, extra point percentage, points scored, points allowed, blocked kicks, blocked kicks allowed, takeaways, giveaways and penalties.
Tags: Blair Walsh, Mike Priefer
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