Chicago Sun-Times

Bears sixth in special rankings

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The Bears finished sixth in Rick Gosselin's special team's rankings.

The veteran Dallas Morning News sportswriter ranks every NFL team's special teams units based on 22 categories.

According to his rankings, the Browns had far and away the league's best special teams, thanks largely to returner Josh Cribbs, who not only scored three touchdowns on kick returns but also had nine special teams tackles. The Browns, who finished 5-11, had 41 fewer points than second-place Tampa Bay. The Bills, Cowboys and Jets were next, followed by the Bears.

The Carolina Panthers had the worst special teams in the league, according to Gosselin's rankings, while the Packers were 31st. The Super Bowl champion Saints were 29th, ironically enough, while the Colts were 28th.

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12 Comments

What a shock Toub continues his excellent work. Lovie has acknowledged his excellence by constantly taking his players to be starters, never mentioning his name, offering him a position coach job, or raise.

Last year of his deal with the Bears. He got a whopping one year extension.

Gosh Sean where did the rest of the team finish in its rankings? Don't forget to use the Aikman efficiency rating system. Thats the system Lovie prefers to use, stating it is far more accurate than the nfl system. He is a big fan of this system. You know what? Let me help you.

Offense 25th

Defense 27th

Special Teams 6th

This is why Lovie makes the big bucks, 27th baby.

I find it funny you would mention all the things that Lovie does not do in regard to Toub. I never hear him mention anyone's name to be exact. The media does that. The main reason most of the guys make the roster is because of their abililty to play special teams as well as be a back up in case of injury. To have that in place and for it to still work that means that it is a testament to Lovie's values. The Browns who stink all the way around has the best special teams. Who is their special teams coach? Seems to me that he is better than what we have. No that can't be true. Maybe it's because Cribbs is great. Yeah, that sounds about right. We have practically 4 starters returning kick returns and punt returns. No other team does that. Why keep dumping on your team if they are actually good at something? Toub isn't the only reason special teams is good. The players we put on that part of the team are exceptional athletes. Give some credit sometimes where it's ALSO due. Lovie doesn't short change Toub. If he did we would not be 6th. Urlacher got hurt we went out and got a guy who played special teams instead of getting a guy who may have been his replacement. Over the years since Lovie has been here we have gotten guys to play practically special teams and nothing else. Everyone knew that Ayanbadejo played special teams very well and we got him just to do that. C'mon man. The team is having more ups than down but don't keep cutting them up when they do well at something as a team.

Toub doesn't need a cookie Creighton.

Fact is, Lovie Smith praises the importance of special teams more than any coach in the league. The "three phases" comment by Lovie has become routine. When they do a good job, he commends them. Toub knows he's the special teams coach. So I think he knows Lovie is talking about Toub's work.

And what do you mean "taking his players to be starters?" That's how the league has worked for decades. That's how it works on just about every level.

Players start off on special teams, but when they are needed, they are placed in the starting lineup.

What's Lovie supposed to do? Ask Toub if he can use one of his gunners to play corner? That makes no sense. Thats not how football works.

Besides -- for all of the players taken, the Bears still have a top unit.

That's true WRD. The organization as a whole from GM to head coach seem committed to making STs a priority year after year. Lovie's always talked about the importance of STs and Angelo brings some fine good players for the special teams unit. He's got an eye for STs talent and has had that ability back in Tampa Bay.


We may be 6th now,but put Devin Hester back on kick returns on a consistent basis(or punts for that matter)and that ranking will only get better!GO BEARS!

So your saying Lovie who doesn't draft, does nothing but draft guys for special teams. Lets see Devin Hester was not a starter, but Lovie took him to be his number 1. Knox was not a starter last year but the number 3 reciever. Williams has been a career backup. BA the captain of special teams was let go cause the Bears didn't see the value in giving him a decent contract.

Lovie got Hester from special teams, the first thing he tried to do with Hester was make him a DB, then a reciever and now he is bacl to special teams. Sense Lovie took Hester he has been a 49th ranked reciever in his best season and his returns have fallen off the charts.

Knox is the number 3 reciever. Not a starter. Bennett filled in for Knox and Hester on occassion and Manning who started on occassion and got benched on occasion. Hester was the only full time starter doing returns on a regular basis and he stank at it thanks to Lovie's brilliant plan to make him a reciever. A plan Martz has now corrected.

Ayanbadejo spent most of early career outside of the nfl, not playing special teams. Then he was signed by Miami, were he was on the practice squad. The nthe Bears traded for him, he became a special team star with Toub, not before him.

Just about everyone who plays for Toub, becomes a stand out player on special teams, he just had his second return man go to a pro bowl. Manning excelled at returns the year before, in fact most guys do well in his system on returns. Izzy has become a standout special team player under toub, Davis, along with several other players. But none of them were high draft picks, most teams send their 4th and bellow to special teams. Its common, Hester and Manning are on special teams because niether of them where very good starters, but both were drafted to fill starting needs not special team needs. Manning was drafted to be the Bears starting FS and Lovie took him under his wing and he stank, and Toub made him into something on special teams. They don't draft for Toub, they send him their scraps. They try to draft starters, they don't play very well and then he gets them, same as every team in the nfl.

Who exactlly did they draft for Toub in the high rounds? Who are all these special teams stars they have signed for him? Toub has lost more special team players in the last 3 years than anyone in the league.

"The team is having more ups than down but don't keep cutting them up when they do well at something as a team."

More ups? So you think they have done a really good job? So your saying they do everything as a team as well, so the defense is playing really good offense and the offense is playing really good defense? Thats why all teams are broken into 3 branches. When did Urlacher play on special teams, or Cutler or Kruetz? So the offense and defense should get credit for special teams?

He was given a one year extension, that was his thank you for constantly being in the top ten on special teams. Has he been given a position coach job? Nope thats for Lovie's friends.


Look at who has top and bottom special teams. I don't know whether this means anything, but maybe today special teams just don't mean that much. If the two Super Bowl teams had lousy special teams, it can't be that important. Hank Stram used to constantly preach that special teams were one-third of the game. While I had great respect for Stram, I never agreed with that. (Special teams can make huge plays like turnovers and TD returns, but they're not on the field that much compared to offense and defense.)

I think that unless you have somebody really spectacular, like Hester used to be, coupled with an offense that can take advantage of the field position that he provides, special teams just don't mean that much anymore. The game has changed radically over the past 3-4 decades, with little resistance being allowed to QBs and offenses now, and one of the areas that have been greatly reduced in importance is special teams.

That last post doesn't make an ounce of sense.


To me this just shows that special teams are not that important, and that keeping mediocre players in the roster because of their "special teams value" doesn't make any sense.

I don't know what to tell you: If great athletes are failing as starters and they go to special teams what does that mean? To me it means that even if a guy isn't especially adapt at being a starter he can at least participate on special teams. So Knox isn't a starter. He is relied on like he's a starter. I don't know why you keep saying that Hester was made a WR by Lovie. The guy was a playmaker who wasn't getting the opportunites on PR/KRs like he was. He asked for good money to be a returner and the organization made him a WR to get the benefit of all that money they were paying him. Shaw and Brendan A came here as special teams players. Brendan A was let go because he wanted starter money and the Ravens gave him what he wanted. The team lost a lot of player after 2006 who were backups and special teamers because they wanted more money that included guys who got their money and failed with their next team trying to play a position. I think the reason that the teams that were in the playoffs are bad on special teams because they hit better on players they draft. How many other teams have second round picks playing special teams. Those guys are supposed to be starting. We get athletes and not players. Sounds like Angelo to me.

I simply don't understand this debate.

Every team in the NFL, and most teams in college, place younger players, or guys who do not start on special teams.

Once those players improve, or are otherwise needed on offense or defense, they stop playing on special teams.

That's how it is suppose to work.

This is merely another attempt to try and attach blame to Lovie Smith over something.

This is not about attacking Lovie, it is about finally recognizing the the BEars have one of the best special team coaches in the NFL. Toub deserves a promotion and trust me when he is gone the special teams will suffer.

Harbaugh was special teams coach a very good one and now is a successful head coach. I look through the league at the head coaches and I would take moe than half over Lovie. Lovie is an average coach at best for an average team because they the Bears have under performed, were poorly coached and almost won half of their games the last three years. If you truly analyze Lovie's decision making the last three years you have to wonder "What was he thinking"? Just look at free safety, who he fired and who he promoted to defensive Coordinator (Babich), the list goes on and on and on.

Despite Lovie's nepotism and inability to see and play the right talent at various positions he will probably keep his job because the McCaskey's are lame owners and Phillips is an accountant not a football expert.

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This page contains a single entry by Neil Hayes published on February 14, 2010 3:49 PM.

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