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These Teams Were Special

Posted Feb 17, 2017

The Dolphins had the seventh-best special teams in the NFL this past season, based on the annual rankings compiled by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.

The Dolphins got contributions from all areas when they returned to the playoffs in 2016, and one aspect of the game where they shined clearly was special teams.

The Dolphins had the seventh-best special teams in the NFL this past season, based on the annual rankings compiled by Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News.

The rankings are based on a compilation of 22 different statistics, with each team assigned the number of points corresponding to their league ranking (for example, one point for first, 32 for last). The teams with the lowest cumulative point totals earn the highest rankings.

The Dolphins ended up with 288 points, half a point more than New England and 61.5 more than the Philadelphia Eagles, who earned the title of having the best special teams in 2016.

The Dolphins earned their best marks for blocked kicks, where they tied the Baltimore Ravens for the league lead with four, for being among 10 teams not to allow a point on special teams (other than field goals and extra points), and for leading the league in opponent punting average (41.8 yards).

The 22 statistical categories used were kickoff returns, punt returns, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, kickoff starting point, opponent kickoff starting point, punting, net punting, punts inside the 20, opponent punting average, opponent net punting, field goals, field goal percentage, opponent field goal percentage, extra-point percentage, points scored, points allowed, blocked kicks, opponent blocked kicks, takeaways, giveaways and penalties.

Among the many highlights on special teams for the Dolphins in 2016 were Kenyan Drake’s kickoff return for a touchdown against the Jets at Hard Rock Stadium, Jakeem Grant’s punt return for a touchdown against Tennessee, Walt Aikens’ punt block and touchdown against the Jets at MetLife Stadium, Aikens’ two-point return after Jordan Phillips’ blocked extra-point attempt against Arizona, and Andrew Franks’ game-tying 55-yard field goal at the end of regulation at Buffalo.

The Dolphins were 15th in the annual special teams rankings for 2015. They were in the top 10 in both 2012 (fourth) and 2013 (eighth).