In fitting fashion for a 2-14 team, the biggest highlight of the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2019 season was their special teams unit. They finished first in the league in Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric and got career years out of a handful of individuals.
The mastermind of it all was special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons, who had the title of assistant head coach added next to his name after the season concluded. Simmons has been with the team since 2003, but 2019 was another level of greatness for his players, making his promotion all the more validated.
Since Simmons just orchestrated the unit, we’re going to focus on the guys in pads worthy of your votes for this year’s Special Teams Player of the Year honors:
Kevin Huber, punter: Year 11 for the Cincinnati native was about as good as it ever has been. Week after week, Huber put on punting clinics that kept the Bengals in games where the offense was underwhelming beyond comprehension. His 37 punts inside the opposing 20-yard line put him at seventh in the NFL on the year, and his return percentage of 33.3 was fifth.
Randy Bullock, kicker: We’re here to give the man some credit where it’s due. Bullock’s accuracy was much better this season and his field goal percentage of 87.1% was a career-high in a season with at least 30 attempts. He was 10-12 from 40-49 yards, and his 83.3% from that range was also a career-high for a season with at least 10 attempts from those distances. His 57-yard field goal in Week 16 was also a career long.
Brandon Wilson, kick returner: Since his days at the University of Houston, Wilson has been a dangerous ball-carrier. It took Cincinnati nearly two-and-a-half seasons to realize this as well. Wilson exploded onto the scene as a kickoff return man beginning in Week 5. By the time his season was cut short in Week 13, he lead the NFL in kickoff return average (31.3) for qualifying players (at least 20% of the highest return total) and finished the year with Pro Football Focus’ highest return grade (85.0)
Stanley Morgan, gunner: Simmons and the coaching staff must’ve saw something in Morgan that was more than just receiving ability. In the 11 games he played in, Morgan achieved the NFL’s sixth-highest special teams grade from PFF (90.4) for qualifying players. Morgan was a machine getting downfield on punts and should be a great asset for the unit going forward.
Clayton Fejedelem, captain: The iron man, Mr. do-it-all of the entire unit, Fejedelem lead the team in special teams snaps (376) while posting the team’s fourth-highest grade from PFF (72.7). Fejedelem wears the captain’s badge on his chest for a reason, and if he’s retained by the team this offseason, he will continue to don that patch on his No. 42 jersey.
Who gets your vote for the Bengals’ 2019 Special Teams Player of the Year?
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