This has become a familiar spot for the Green Bay Packers since Shawn Slocum has been their special teams coach — the bottom of the Dallas Morning News’ annual special teams rankings. The Packers were predictably ranked dead last for the 2014 season in the rankings, which came out Friday morning.
A little background for those of you unfamiliar with these rankings. They are compiled by Rick Gosselin and have become the definitive barometer by which special teams play is measured in the NFL. Why, you ask? Probably because no one else ever took the time (or wanted to take the time) to break down special teams in this much detail.
The formula is simple, really.
The league’s 32 teams are ranked in 22 special teams categories and assigned points according to their standing, with one for the best and 32 for the worst. So the lowest overall score is the best special teams unit in the NFL.
That honor went to the Philadelphia Eagles this year, with 201.5 points. By comparison, the Packers tallied 450 points.
The Packers had league-worst rankings in punts inside the 20 (14) and blocked kicks allowed (7).
So while Micah Hyde was having a good season returning punts and Mason Crosby was decent at kicking field goals (when they weren’t getting blocked), those two facets were overshadowed by the usual inexcusable blunders. Somewhat lost in the shuffle is that Tim Masthay has gone from pretty good punter to fucking awful and that the Packers somehow can’t seem to find anyone who can return kicks.
And of course, no one can or wants to block anyone on special teams either.
Maybe it’s time to do something differently?
Well, probably not. It’s not as if the Packers haven’t been in this position before.
They were ranked 20th in these rankings last year, 12th following the 2012 season, tied for 13th for 2011, 29th for 2010, 31st for 2009 and 26th for 2008. After the 2008 season, Packers coach Mike McCarthy actually fired special teams coach Mike Stock and replaced him with Slocum.
Of course, Stock was not McCarthy’s buddy and Slocum is.
It’s amazing that the Packers were able to win 12 games and make it to the NFC Championship game with literally the worst special teams unit in the NFL. It also makes you wonder what might happen if they actually paid any attention to this aspect of the game.