The Bears are No. 1 again.
While far from that lofty position in the standings, the team ranked tops again in the league in special teams in the rankings released today by Dallas Morning News football writer Rick Gosselin.
Gosselin has been crunching the numbers since 1980 when he got the formula from Frank Gansz, then the special teams coach for the Kansas City Chiefs and later their head coach.
The teams are ranked from 1 to 32 in 22 categories … getting one for being the best and 32 for being the worst. The Bears wound up with 236.5 points, 5.5 ahead of San Diego. Its the second consecutive year Dave Toubs unit has finished on top, in large part due to return man Devin Hester, who will compete in the Pro Bowl later today along with special teamer Brendon Ayanbadejo.
When Gosselin started back when he was working at the Kansas City Star, there were only five or six full-time special teams coaches in the league. In the 28 years since, its developed into a specialized craft and his rankings have taken off. Coaches used it to get pay raises now. Don’t think Hester won’t look to use it himself.
The Bears led the league in scoring, starting field position following kickoffs, blocked kicks (eight — three by Israel Idonije) and kickoff coverage. They were second in punt returns and field goals (31) and third in punt coverage. They were also in the top five in opponent punting and opponent net punting, in large part because of Hester. In all, the Bears were in the top 10 in 14 of 22 categories.
The Bears were actually last in kickoff returns at 18.4 yards because there were so many gimmicks used to keep the ball out of Hesters hands, but the short squibs, kicks out of bounds and everything else added up to the best starting field position at an average of he 33.7-yard line.