2016 Position Review: Special Teams

Posted Feb 23, 2017 provides a breakdown of each position following the 2016 season. This edition looks back at the special teams.

The Dolphins got big plays on special teams throughout the 2016 season, starting with rookie Jakeem Grant’s punt return for a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans in Week 5. That was followed by a kickoff return for a touchdown by Kenyan Drake against the Jets at Hard Rock Stadium; Walt Aikens’ two-point return after Jordan Phillips blocked an Arizona Cardinals extra-point attempt; Aikens’ blocked punt and return for a touchdown against the Jets at MetLife Stadium; and Andrew Franks’ game-tying 55-yard field goal at Buffalo. Yes, it was a banner season for the special teams, which ended up seventh in the Dallas Morning News’ annual rankings, based on 22 different statistical categories. The Dolphins tied the Baltimore Ravens for the NFL lead with four blocked kicks, with Jason Jones and Chris Jones joining Aikens and Phillips in that category. Michael Thomas led the NFL in initial special teams tackles and earned a vote for AP All-Pro, while Mike Hull was third for overall special teams tackles with 18. Thanks to Drake’s touchdown against the Jets and his 78-yard return against San Francisco, the Dolphins were fifth in the NFL in kickoff average at 25.1 yards. John Denney had another flawless season as the long-snapper, and Matt Darr was impressive with his precision punting as he finished with 32 kicks inside the 20 and only five touchbacks.

Season-ending starters:  P Matt Darr, K Andrew Franks, LS John Denney, PR Jarvis Landry, KR Kenyan Drake

Season-ending backups:  PR Jakeem Grant, KR Jakeem Grant

Ended season on injured reserve:  None

2016 transactions (after final roster cuts):  None

2017 free agents: LS John Denney (UFA)

Stat that stands out:  The Dolphins were one of two teams in the NFL (along with Minnesota) with two different players with a return for a touchdown in 2016.