Throughout the season, Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy pointed to the special teams as his squad’s most consistent unit.
That’s backed up by Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings for the Dallas Morning News.
Shawn Slocum’s unit ranked 12th, continuing the improvement since the special teams ranked 31st when he took over in 2009. The Packers’ special teams finished 29th in 2010 and 13th in 2011.
Gosselin measures 22 statistical categories, giving one point to the team that finishes first and 32 points to the team that finishes last. It’s the ultimate measuring stick of special teams, though one could quibble with statistics like extra-point percentage and opponent field-goal percentage being given equal weight to return averages.
For the Packers to finish 12th and just two points out of 10th is a testament to the all-around strength of the return and coverage units as they had to overcome Mason Crosby’s 32nd-ranked field-goal percentage.
Of the Packers’ biggest strides, topping the list is punting. In 2009, the Packers lost 6.6 yards in every exchange of punts. This year, they broke even. Plus, in 2009, they were outgained by 0.7 yards per kickoff return. This year, they were plus 1.6 yards, a 2.3-yard difference. That translates to plus-8.9 yards since 2009.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.