Nobody was shocked at the 2023 Special Teams rankings, an annual exercise by NFL sports writer Rick Gosselin. If you are unfamiliar with the man, he has been associated with sports coverage for nearly 50 years. Over time, he has covered various NFL teams from various cities, finally retiring in 2019 to do his one thing. Retirement for sports writers means something completely different than the standard retirement package. Perhaps the team 'self-employed,' or 'independent contractor,' is the more appropriate term.
Each season, Gosselin ranks NFL special teams in a variety of categories. Because the manner and categories of measuring special team effectiveness can be both varied and confusing, Gosselin lists his categories of measurement that are compiled into an index that is used to grade the performance of all 32 teams.
Let's examine the categories used by Rick Gosselin in his measure of NFL special teams ranking, because special team will be the topic for this article. His categories include:
- Kickoff returns
- Punt returns
- Kickoff coverage
- Punt Coverage
- Starting point (where the offense takes over)
- Opponent starting point (where the defense takes over)
- Punting - distance football travels after it leaves a punter's foot.
- Net punting - punting distance adjusted by opponent punt return yardage
- Inside the 20 punts
- Opponent punting
- Opponent net punting
- Field goals
- Field goal percentage
- Opponent field goal percentage
- Extra point percentage
- Points scored
- Points allowed
- Blocked kicks
- Opponent blocked kicks
That is certainly a lot to unpack, and many categories are not readily tracked by other mainstream NFL statistics websites. But we can cite Gosselin's footnotes in each category, and then apply what we know about the Rams special teams in categories as measured by other sites to get a more well-rounded image of how well or poorly the group performed in 2023.
So let's dive in and see for ourselves, shall we?