Detroit Lions ranked among the NFL’s best special teams unit this season

Detroit Free Press

Carlos Monarrez
 
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Lions’ special season on special teams was confirmed Wednesday when the unit finished among the NFL’s best in an annual renowned ranking.

The Lions finished third overall according to Rick Gosselin, a longtime Dallas-based NFL writer who has compiled a season-ending ranking of NFL special teams for the last 42 years.

The league’s 32 teams are ranked in 22 kicking-game categories and assigned points according to their standing — one for best, 32 for worst.

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The New England Patriots finished first, followed by the Seattle Seahawks and the Lions. Six of the top nine teams made the playoffs.

“The Detroit Lions were a surprising third-place finisher,” Gosselin wrote. “They were terrible — finishing 5-11 with the NFL’s 20th ranked offense and 32nd ranked defense — and head coach Matt Patricia was fired after Thanksgiving. But Detroit was ultra-competitive on the kicking downs, especially with NFC Pro Bowl punter Jack Fox.

“The Lions blocked a league-high four kicks and finished first or with a share of first in four categories. There also were two second-place finishes, four more in the Top 5 and three more in the Top 10. But special-teams coach Brayden Coombs didn’t survive, either. The Lions fired him during Christmas week.”

The Lions’ ranking is one of the few bright spots for a bad season. The question now is whether Fox and their special teams will continue to flourish under a new head coach and special-teams coordinator.

Contact Carlos Monarrez at cmonarrez@freepress.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.

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