Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY Sports

Bears rank in bottom half of NFL in special teams

Chicago Bears special teams weren't great in 2015, although it wasn't as bad as most believe.

Scout's Packer Report has, for the third year in a row, produced overall special teams rankings. Per Bill Huber, publisher of PR: 

Our rankings focus on the haeart of special teams - field position - along with field-goal accuracy. First column is net punting average. Second column is opponent net punting average. Third is average starting field position following a kickoff return (not return average). Fourth is opponent average starting field position following a kickoff (again, not return average). Fifth is field-goal accuracy. 

RankTeamNet PuntOpp NetKO ReturnKickoffFG PctTotal
1 Baltimore 2 12 6 4 21 45
2 Indianapolis 5 27 11 5 4 52
3 Detroit 4 25 10 15 5 59
4 Cincinnati 10 10 14 3 22 59
5 New England 15 18 20 2 5 60
5 Seattle 29 9 2 17 3 60
7 Dallas 3 26 8 23 1 61
8 Buffalo 7 16 23 1 16 63
9 N.Y. Giants 25 8 7 24 1 65
9 Washington 18 23 4 8 12 65
11 Jacksonville 23 2 25 6 12 68
11 St. Louis 1 7 18 10 32 68
13 Cleveland 14 1 27 18 9 69
14 Philadelphia 6 11 16 11 27 71
15 Kansas City 8 15 9 16 26 74
16 Green Bay 13 19 5 27 14 78
17 Minnesota 30 13 1 29 11 84
18 Atlanta 11 17 15 13 29 85
19 Oakland 9 20 3 28 27 87
20 Miami 19 5 26 20 24 94
21 Chicago 20 14 12 32 18 96
22 Denver 22 30 22 9 14 97
23 Arizona 32 31 17 14 7 101
23 Carolina 17 24 19 22 19 101
25 San Francisco 21 21 21 31 8 102
26 N.Y. Jets 31 29 13 7 23 103
26 Pittsburgh 24 6 24 30 19 103
28 Tennessee 12 32 32 19 9 104
29 New Orleans 16 4 29 25 31 105
30 Tampa Bay 28 3 28 21 30 110
31 Houston 26 28 30 12 16 112
32 San Diego 27 22 31 26 24 130

The chart shows the Bears had the 21st best special teams in the NFL in 2015. Only 11 teams were worse than Chicago on special teams, as the Bears didn't rank in the Top 10 in any category. 

The Bears ranked highest (12th) in average starting field position following a kickoff. Credit there goes to Deonte Thompson, who became the starting kick returner in Week 11. Thompson is light years faster than Marc Mariani, who did very little as a kick returner the first 10 games of the season. Thompson averaged 29.2 yards per kick return, with two returns of more than 40 yards, including a 74-yarder. He didn't have enough returns (14) to qualify for league rankings but if he had, he would have finished second in the league in kick return average. 

The Bears were the worst team in the NFL covering kickoffs, which is no surprise, as the unit allowed three kickoff-return touchdowns on the year. 

Both P Patrick O'Donnell and K Robbie Gould ranked in the bottom half of the league in net punting average and field-goal percentage respectively. 

Special teams coach Jeff Rodgers has his work cut out for him. 


Bear Report Top Stories