What did you think about the play of the Pittsburgh Steelers special teams units during the 2017 season? On the surface, they weren’t awful, but outside of a long kickoff return for a touchdown and a few blocked punts, does anything else really stand out? What if I told you that the Steelers special teams ranked 17th in the NFL in 2017? Well, according to one set of independent rankings that was the case.
On Tuesday, Rick Gosselin, formerly of The Dallas Morning News, released his annual special teams rankings for the 2017 season and he has the Steelers ranked 17th overall with a score of 370.5. The score is calculated using by using the rankings of all 32 teams in 22 different special teams categories and then assigning points according to the standing in each. In short, the lower the combined final score the better and thus I assume a perfect score would be 22.
The Steelers saving grace on special teams during the 2017 regular season was obviously kicker Chris Boswell, according to Gosselin’s rankings. The Steelers finished fifth-overall in total field goals with 35 and fifth overall in field goal percentage with 92.1%. If not for those high rankings, the Steelers special teams units would have probably ranked right around 20th overall for a second consecutive season.
A year ago the Steelers ranked 20th overall for the 2016 season with a composite score of 394.5. In case you’re curious, the Steelers ranked 6th overall in 2015 in Gosselin’s rankings with a composite score of 316.5 and 21st overall in 2014 with a composite score of 410.
On kickoff and punt returns this past season the Steelers averaged 19.1 and 6.9 yards respectively and that resulted in league-wide rankings of 29th and 23rd overall, respectively. In case you’re curious, they averaged 8.4 yards per punt return during the 2016 regular season and 21.5 yards on kickoffs. Their punt and kickoff coverage units ranked 18th and 15th overall, respectively, during the 2017 regular season.
For whatever it’s worth, it doesn’t appear as though the Steelers will move on from special teams coordinator Danny Smith during the offseason, Smith has held that job since 2013.