The Green Bay Packers’ special teams have been a work in progress.
There was the late change at punter, with the release of veteran Tim Masthay and the addition of Jacob Schum.
There was the late change at snapper, with Brett Goode re-signed after final cuts.
Four of the top returning players from last season were either sidelined by injury (Chris Banjo and Jayrone Elliott missed the first two games with injured hamstrings), limited by injury (Jeff Janis played through a broken hand) or suspended (Demetri Goodson).
And yet, according to the first version of our special teams rankings, the Packers rank a respectable 14th.
The Packers were 16th after the 2015 season, a big improvement over their No. 31 standing in 2014.
Packer Report tracks five key special-teams statistics: Starting field position following a kickoff and kickoff return, net punting for and against, and field-goal accuracy. A No. 1 ranking means one point, a No. 2 ranking means two points and so on. The first four categories are about field position. After all, a 40-yard punt with no return is better than a 50-yard punt with a 15-yard return, and a touchback on a kickoff is better than a 30-yard return from a kick 7 yards into the end zone.
Obviously, three games into a season means a small sample size. That’s evident in two areas.
First, eight teams have made all of their field-goal attempts, including the Packers. Thus, one missed kick means a big penalty in our rankings.
Two, the Packers rank sixth in field position following a kickoff due in large part to Ty Montgomery’s out-of-bounds pickup of a kickoff against Detroit last week that gave Green Bay the ball at the 40.
Speaking of kickoff returns, teams are better off taking the touchback and getting possession at the 25-yard line. Only 10 teams are starting beyond the 25, with only four teams getting it beyond the 26. For Green Bay, it’s taken a touchback on 12 of 16 kickoffs, that 75 percent being the fifth-highest.
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Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.