Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

30 Nov 2012

2012 Special Teams Tackles, Weeks 1-12

Everybody enjoys a good Friday data dump, so let's take a look at special teams tackles so far in 2012.

Here's a list of the players with the most special teams tackles in 2012, Weeks 1-12:



ST Tackles
97-L.Alexander WAS 13
22-A.Ball HOU 13
37-J.Bademosi CLE 13
25-D.Stuckey SD 12
52-S.Paysinger NYG 12
42-C.Jones CAR 11
18-M.Slater NE 11
22-B.Skrine CLE 11
55-H.Farwell SEA 11
27-S.Brown NYG 10
50-B.Braman HOU 10
53-J.Phillips CAR 10
58-A.Palmer DET 10
37-R.Doughty WAS 10
24-J.Bush GB 10
51-B.Ayanbadejo BAL 10
51-D.Skuta CIN 10
93-J.Trusnik MIA 10
31-C.Brown PIT 10

Here's a list of the players with the most special teams stops in 2012. Stops are tackles that stop the opposing returner short of the point where FO considers it to be an above average return.



ST Tackles

ST Stops
97-L.Alexander WAS 13 11
37-J.Bademosi CLE 13 11
18-M.Slater NE 11 11
22-B.Skrine CLE 11 11
55-H.Farwell SEA 11 9
58-A.Palmer DET 10 9
38-A.Blake JAC 9 9
37-R.Doughty WAS 10 8
27-E.Frampton DAL 8 8
25-D.Stuckey SD 12 7
52-S.Paysinger NYG 12 7
42-C.Jones CAR 11 7
27-S.Brown NYG 10 7
51-B.Ayanbadejo BAL 10 7
51-D.Skuta CIN 10 7
43-N.Ebner NE 9 7
35-J.Lefeged IND 8 7
57-V.Rey CIN 8 7
53-R.Humber NO 7 7
30-C.Anderson PHI 7 7
14-E.Weems CHI 7 7
57-J.Senn CAR 7 7

Finally, now that we have snap data, we can look at which special teamers do the most considering how often they are on the field. Here are the players with the fewest number of snaps per tackle (minimum 100 special teams snaps):



ST Tackles


27-S.Brown NYG 10 133 13.3
22-T.Jones OAK 8 110 13.8
42-C.Jones CAR 11 167 15.2
24-C.Hope ATL 9 140 15.6
15-C.Roby NO 8 125 15.6
97-L.Alexander WAS 13 218 16.8
18-M.Slater NE 11 188 17.1
43-H.Nakamura CAR 9 155 17.2
22-A.Ball HOU 13 226 17.4
22-B.Skrine CLE 11 197 17.9
82-R.Gordon OAK 9 162 18.0
25-D.Stuckey SD 12 232 19.3

He just misses being ranked on this table because I decided to make the minimum 100 snaps, but Pittsburgh defensive back Curtis Brown has 10 tackles with just 95 special teams snaps.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 30 Nov 2012

15 comments, Last at 01 Dec 2012, 9:14pm by dryheat


by Boots Day :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 6:40pm

Does "special teams snaps" include extra points and field goals, which obviously never have tackles, or is it just kickoffs and punts?

by Bobman :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 7:04pm

Great question--I'd assume just "return events" like KOs and punts, plus the random one or two long FG attempts per year that go awry and are returned.... maybe even fewer than one per year.

by Aaron Schatz :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 7:45pm

No, you are right, it includes all special teams including FG/XP. I forgot about that when putting this together... I'll have to figure out a way to try to separate that out.

by Hurt Bones :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 8:00pm

It's more complicated. It has to be only kick coverage snaps and not snaps where the player is blocking for his return man. Also I'm guessing touchbacks and fair catches count as snaps, but obviously there is no tackle in those instances.

by tuluse :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 8:09pm

Not never, it is possible to return a short field goal.

by Marko :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 12:13am

Yeah, but it seems like all of those that are returned go for TDs. Return TDs by Nathan Vasher (108 yards), Devin Hester (108 yards) and Antonio Cromartie (109 yards) come to mind. I can't remember the last short field goal that was returned but didn't go for a TD. So it seems that there rarely is a tackle on such plays.

What about special teams "stops" that force a fair catch? A gunner getting downfield and forcing a fair catch is even more valuable than the gunner or someone else making a tackle after a return of a few yards. Of course, that may be hard to determine (more than one player may be involved in "forcing" the fair catch) and also would be somewhat dependent on the punter having a lot of hang time and perhaps even having a shorter kick.

by Rhombus (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 5:20am

Janikowski's 70+ yarder the Raiders foolishly attempted a few seasons ago before halftime comes to mind. That was an easily returnable kick that didn't go back for a TD.

by Rhombus (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 5:23am

Whoops, *short* field goal. Missed that one.

by Theo :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 7:31am

as in... long field goal attempts kicked short

by Athelas :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 7:36pm

So maybe Slater does deserve the love Belichick gives him.

by tuluse :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 8:10pm

It's possible that he's cleaning up a lot of mistakes that other players are making.

by Alternator :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 11:44pm

New England is #2 in Special Teams DVOA, so not so much cleaning up mistakes. Slater is genuinely great at his job.

by dryheat :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 9:14pm

I think that the fact that Belichick gave a pure ST guy an extension verifies that.

by Theo :: Fri, 11/30/2012 - 9:16pm

Like said above, you only tackle on special teams if you're on the punt and kick coverage teams. Return teams block.
It's still interesting data though, since playing many snaps makes you a more important player, but the snap/tackle stat should be adjusted if you want to see who makes more on average.

by buzzorhowl (not verified) :: Sat, 12/01/2012 - 11:29am

Considering that I watch the Redskins play every week, it is not a surprise to see Lorenzo Alexander ranking so high on these lists--but it certainly does make me happy.