Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News (registration required) reveals his annual special teams rankings today, and the Patriots top the charts.
Gosselin's rankings are widely respected in NFL circles. They are sometimes cited in team media guides as a measure of special teams prowess.
Gosselin explains his ranking system in the piece: "The league’s 32 teams are ranked in 22 categories and assigned points according to their standing — one for best, 32 for worst. The Patriots finished first with a composite score of 269 — five points better than the runner-up Tennessee Titans."
Gosselin praises Patriots special teams coach Scott O'Brien in the process, as well as Bill Belichick.
"Belichick has been building a younger roster in recent years, and the Patriots finished the 2010 season with 23 players with two years or less experience," Gosselin writes.
"Those young legs made the Patriots a faster, more physical unit on special teams — also a more productive one. Second-year men Patrick Chung and Kyle Arrington and rookies Devin McCourty and Dane Fletcher combined for 47 tackles, a blocked kick and fumble recovery in the kicking game.
"In addition, Zolton Mesko had a superb rookie season as the punter with a 38.4-yard net average and only five touchbacks, and second-year return specialists Brandon Tate and Julian Edelman combined to run three kicks back for touchdowns."
EXTRA POINT: Football Outsiders, using its own ratings system, ranked the Patriots special teams eighth.