Cowboys shine in special-teams rankings

On the Sunday following the Super Bowl, special-teams coaches around the league are always on pins and needles. That is because they're waiting for Dallas Morning News NFL columnist Rick "Goose" Gosselin to release his annual special-teams rankings.

Gosselin, my old officemate at the DMN, has developed an intricate system for ranking the special-teams units from all 32 teams. In fact, teams such as the Eagles will often cite Gosselin's report when announcing a new special-teams coach. Surprisingly, the hapless Cleveland Browns were ranked No. 1 this season and the Super Bowl-winning Saints checked in at No. 29.

The Cowboys hired former Jaguars special-teams coach Joe DeCamillis before the '09 season and moved up 23 spots to No. 4 in the overall rankings. The Eagles were 17th, Giants 20th and Redskins 27th. The good news for Eagles fans, though, is that new special-teams coach Bobby April led the third-ranked special-teams unit in Buffalo. OK, here are some other NFC East-related tidbits from the Gosselin rankings:

  • The Eagles led the league in punt returns with a 13.5-yard average thanks to DeSean Jackson.

  • Pete Carroll made a major mistake running off former Cowboys special-teams coach Bruce DeHaven from Seattle. The Seahawks finished 11th in the rankings despite having a bad overall team.

  • Cowboys opponents had an average starting point at the 22.8-yard line (second in league), something that could be attributed to leading the league in touchbacks. David Buehler deserves major props for his work in that department.

  • The Cowboys were fourth in the league with 38 punts downed inside the 20. That's one of the main reasons Mat McBriar belonged in the Pro Bowl.

  • The Eagles and Chargers tied for first in field goals made with 32.

  • The Cowboys ranked 30th in field goal percentage with 64.5.

  • The Redskins led the league in giveaways on special teams with five.

  • I realize the Packers don't play in the Beast, but can you believe they had 28 penalties on special teams? The Falcons had a league-best six.