He led the league in tackles on special teams and didn't miss a single one. pic.twitter.com/dmZv1iz3zK— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 25, 2017
According to Pro Football Focus, New England Patriots ST ace Nate Ebner collected 14 tackles on special teams in 2016 and didn’t record a single missed attempt. He edged out Miami Dolphins ST Mike Hull and San Francisco 49ers ST Jaquiski Tartt for the most special teams tackles in the league without a miss.
While we don’t have access to PFF’s figures, I can use the official NFL stats to evaluate Ebner’s statistical production. Ebner recorded 19 tackles (13 solo, 6 assisted), 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery on special teams; those 19 tackles are tied with Miami Dolphins ST Michael Thomas for the most in the league. Patriots ST Brandon King ranked second on the team with 9 tackles (6 solo, 3 assisted).
Most of the Patriots special teams attention goes to captain Matthew Slater, who has been named to six straight Pro Bowls and has been named First Team All Pro four times (albeit by Pro Football Writers, but that still counts per the Collective Bargaining Agreement!).
When we look at the Associated Press All Pro team, Slater earned his first First Team All Pro distinction this past season with 14 votes (or 17 vote, if you believe votes recorded for “Patriots’ Matt Develin” were supposed to go to Slater over James Develin). Ebner was named Second Team All Pro with 12 votes.
The Patriots always have one of the best special teams units in the league and it’s players like Ebner and Slater that keep the team on top. Both players are free agents after the 2017 season (as is Brandon King). Look for the Patriots to reach extensions with these players in the next couple of months.