One of the things we annually look forward to at this time of year is Rick Gosselin's special teams rankings in the Dallas Morning News. Special teams coaches generally do too.
And for the New England Patriots, Gosselin's 2013 rankings were obviously well received. Scott O'Brien's unit finished No. 1.
"It’s no surprise that the Patriots finished No. 1," Gosselin writes. "Bill Belichick spent his first four seasons in the NFL as a special teams coach with Detroit, Denver and the Giants from 1976-79. So he knows and appreciates a quality kicking game.
"Belichick’s Cleveland Browns finished first in the NFL in special teams in 1994, as did his 2010 Patriots. Scott O’Brien was the special teams coach in all three of the seasons Belichick teams finished No. 1 in the kicking game."
Gosselin also notes that former Patriots special teams coach Brad Seely, now in San Francisco, directed the No. 2-ranked unit.
The Patriots' No. 1 ranking is impressive when considering they had a change at punter, with rookie Ryan Allen replacing Zoltan Mesko. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski had a terrific year, with his onside kick against the Browns on Dec. 8 one of the top highlights, while captain Matthew Slater earned another Pro Bowl berth.
To read Gosselin's rankings, click here.
To see the rankings in slideshow form, click here.