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.
|Rank||Team||Net Punt||Opp Net||KO Return||Kickoff||FG Pct||Total|
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.