Wednesday, July 24, 2013

2013: Looking Around The Division: Special Teams

This is the final installment of the "Looking Around The Division" series.  Looking at special teams in order to figure out the final points tally.

4. Detroit Lions
  • K-#2 David Akers (38, 5'10" 200 lbs)
  • K-#3 Havard Rugland (28, 6'2" 245 lbs)
  • P-#6 Sam Martin (23, 6'1" 205 lbs)
  • P-#8 Blake Clingan (24, 6'3" 229 lbs)
  • KR-#19 Mike Thomas (26, 5'8" 198 lbs)
  • KR-#11 Devin Thomas (26, 6'2" 221 lbs)
  • LS-#48 Don Muhlbach (31, 6'4" 198 lbs)
The Lions have had some rough special teams the past few years.  Things will continue to be the same this season, as they have lost their most consistent player in Jason Hanson.  Akers was a rough kicker last year, only making 69% of his field goal kicks.  If it doesn't seem like he can make it, then Rugland, the Youtube sensation from Norway, will be the primary field goal kicker for the Lions, which is a pretty big joke.  Their two options at punter are a 5th round draft pick (Martin) and an UDFA (Clingan).  Mike Thomas hasn't been a main return man since his rookie season in 2009.  Muhlbach is a long snapper, and he's been there for 9 prior seasons, so they must be doing something right.

3.  Minnesota Vikings
  • K-#3 Blair Walsh (23, 5'9" 187 lbs)
  • P-#12 Jeff Locke (23, 6'0" 209 lbs)
  • KR-#35 Marcus Sherels (25, 5'10" 175 lbs)
  • LS-#46 Cullen Loeffler (32, 6'5" 241 lbs)
Walsh clearly leads this list.  He had 53 touchbacks last year.  He was 9-9 on field goals 50+ yards.  Sherels will be the new full time return man, instead of Percy Harvin being the main man for returning.  Locke is a 5th round rookie to get rid of Kluwe.  Loeffler is entering his 10th season for the Vikings as their long snapper.  Walsh is impressive but Locke & Sherels are not exactly the cream of the crop for specialists.

2.  Green Bay Packers
  • K-#2 Mason Crosby (28, 6'1" 207 lbs)
  • K-#7 Giorgio Tavecchio (23, 5'10" 178 lbs)
  • P-#8 Tim Masthay (26, 6'1" 200 lbs)
  • KR-#18 Randall Cobb (22, 5'10" 192 lbs)
  • LS-#61 Brett Goode (28, 6'1" 255 lbs)
Crosby & Tavecchio are definitely in a competition for who will make the team.  At least that will be the case if Crosby struggles during training camp and preseason.  Crosby kicked 63.6% last year, the worst rate of everyone in the league.  Take out the ones that are over 50 yards and the percentage goes up to 79%, but those are the kicks that the elite field goal kickers consistently make.  Tavecchio came over from Cal, but I don't think that he is major competition, he just would take over if Crosby struggles.  Masthay has been strong for us, with a maximum of 5 touchbacks per season since 2010.  We are all just happy that Masthay is so much better than anyone that we have had for the longest time.  Cobb is a stud, with a total of 3 return touchdowns in his two seasons in the NFL.  Goode has been going strong since 2008, when we signed him as an injury replacement for Jansen.

1.  Chicago Bears
  • K-#9 Robbie Gould (31, 6'0" 185 lbs)
  • K-#2 Austin Signor (26, 6'4" 230 lbs)
  • P-#8 Adam Podlesh (29, 5'11" 200 lbs)
  • P-#1 Tress Way (23, 6'1" 215 lbs)
  • KR-#23 Devin Hester (30, 5'11" 190 lbs)
  • LS-#65 Patrick Mannelly (38, 6'5" 265 lbs)
Gould has consistently been around an 85% field goal kicker.  He was at 84% last year, just keeps doing his thing.  Signor was a Senior at Eastern Illinois in 2009, he went 14-22 last year.  Podlesh has been on the Bears for the past 2 years, but Way has a bigger leg and could end up beating him out for the punting spot on the roster this year.  Hester is one of the best kick returners in the game.  17 return touchdowns is amazing.  This will be Mannelly's 11th year as the long snapper of the Bears.

1.  Green Bay Packers-25
2.  Detroit Lions-23
3.  Chicago Bears-21
4.  Minnesota Vikings-19

These are the final standings after a thorough review of each position in the division.  One thing for certain is that it is almost football season and I for one couldn't be much more ready than I am right now.  

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