Grading The 2011 Bengals: Special Teams

Special teams is always the most overlooked aspect of football. Kickers and punters have the least sexy jobs on the team but their jobs are some of the most important. The kicker is important for obvious reasons and the punter is important because a good punter can drastically change the outcome of any game by giving his team the advantage when it comes to field position. And of course, you have punt and kick returners.

Here are the individual grades for Bengals special teams players and the unit's grade as a whole.

Kicker Mike Nugent: In 2011, Nugent made 34 of 40 field goal attempts for an 85 percent field goal percentage. He was 100 percent from within 20 yards, 66.7 percent from 30-39 yards and 85 percent from 40-49 yards. He was also 33 of 34 in extra points on the year. When it came to kickoffs, he averaged 68.6 yards per kick and the opposing team was forced into a touchback about half the time (percent return was 51.8). His ProFootballFocus.com score for kickoffs was 20.0 while his score for field goals was 7.0 for an overall score of 27. That ranks him as the ninth best kicker in the NFL this season.

Punter Kevin Huber: In 2011 Huber punted the ball 94 times for an average of 43.8 yards per kick and an average hang time of five seconds. His long punt on the year was 71 yards. He had no punts blocked, nine touchbacks and he dropped 32 punts inside the 20-yard line. He had an overall score as a punter of 4.3. That ranks him as the No. 28 punter in the league in 2011, according to PFF.

Punt/Kick Returner Brandon Tate: Tate attempted to return 53 punts in 2011 and his average return yardage was 10.5, which was a new franchise record. He had 19 fair catches and his long return was 56 yards, which he achieved in Week 8 against the Seahawks and in Week 15 against the Rams. He made some mistakes along the way, catching punts he should let go and letting go some punts he should have caught, but he still had a good season. His punt return score was 3.6, which ranked him as the 10th best punt returner in the league.

As a kick returner, Tate attempted to return 43 kickoffs for an average of 23.7 yards. His long was 45 yards and he didn't score a return touchdown. For kick returning, he had a PFF score of -1.7. This combined with his punt return score gave him an overall grade of 1.9.

Best Special Teamer: Running back Cedric Peerman had by far the best score of anybody who was not a punt or kick returner. He had a punt team score of 1.5 and a kickoff team score of 2.9 for an overall score of 3.9.

Tate wasn't the only player to act as a returner. Bernard Scott, Cedric Peerman and Nate Clements each returned one kick. When it came to punts, Adam Jones returned two punts for a total of 67 yards, one being for 65 yards.

When it comes to special teams, the Bengals earned a grade of B- in my opinion. What grade would you give them?

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