The New England Patriots entered their bye week on a low note after getting blown out 34-10 by the Tennessee Titans. They showed weaknesses in all three phases of the football — but we will concentrate on just one today: special teams, a unit that had another inconsistent outing on Sunday. It was nothing new for the Patriots, who have had their fair share of ups and downs in the kicking game all year long.
While special teams coach Joe Judge’s unit is the only one to score touchdowns off a kick return and a block this season — the group did it both during the Patriots’ week seven game against the Chicago Bears — it also has struggled covering kickoffs and punts: New England ranks fourth-worst in the NFL in kickoff return average (26.4 yards/runback) and second worst when it comes to defending punts (13.1 yards/runback).
The obvious weaknesses on defense are the main reason for concern, and one the team tried to address with recent signings like Albert McClellan and Ramon Humber — both veteran special teamers. That being said, not all was bad for the Patriots in the return game: even though the team ranks just 18th in punt return average (7.5 yards/runback), it is the second-best in the NFL when it comes to kickoff returns (29.6 yards/runback).
The group also has been solid when it comes to actually kicking the football. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski has made 19 of 22 field goal attempts this year (all three misses came from beyond 50 yards out) as well as all 31 of his extra point tries. His combined success rate of 94.3% makes him the 10th most best place kicker in the NFL. Meanwhile, punter Ryan Allen averages 46.3 yards per punt (9th best) and again displayed some good accuracy when it comes to pinning the opponent deep.
With all that in mind, how would you grade the unit after 10 weeks? Let us know below!
How would you grade the Patriots special teams?
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