They don't get talked about as much as other facets of the game, but Atlanta's special teams were crucial to the team's (limited) success in 2014. Between Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher and Josh Harris -- skilled, reliable, consistent -- and Devin Hester, one of the most exciting players in the game today, there are a lot of positives to take away from Keith Armstrong's unit.
Let's take a look at how it performed.
Bryant's efforts over the last few years have arguably made him the best kicker to ever play for Atlanta. Despite his age, the 39-year-old made 29 of 32 field goals, only missing from 50 or more yards out.
Distance wasn't much of an issue, though; he still converted on seven of 10 from 50-plus. For perspective: none of his competitors made more than five from that range.
It's been incredibly refreshing to have such a dependable kicker, a luxury few enjoy. Now a free agent, it's unclear if Bryant will return in 2015, and with his career winding down, it'd be understandable if he chose to sign with a contender.
2014 wasn't Bosher's greatest campaign, but nevertheless he finished with some impressive stats. His average punt was 45.7 yards, and his net yardage was 40.8, good for 16th and sixth, respectively. 16th may not seem great, but less than two yards separated him from the top spot.
Bosher once again handled kick-off duties and forced touchbacks 55.42 percent of the time.
Hester will go down as one of Thomas Dimitroff's best acquisitions. His biggest moment was undoubtedly the punt return in Week 3, which broke Deion Sanders' NFL record for return TDs (20). Given the league's new rules, it'll be extremely difficult for anyone to ever top Hester's mark.
The University of Miami product concluded 2014 with 150 more kick return yards than anyone else in the league. What's more, his 13.3 average punt return was the third-best among qualifiers.
The Falcons' coverage units surrendered an average of 22.8 yards per kickoff return and 9.6 yards per punt return with zero touchdowns surrendered -- not great, but not bad, either. Eric Weems was reliable in this area, as were Robert McClain and Nathan Stupar, in particular.
Overall, Atlanta's special teams ranked seventh in the NFL with a 35.3 Pro Football Focus rating. The Falcons' have now finished in the top 10 for three straight years according to PFF's grades.
This is certainly a testament to the coaching. While much of the recent staff turnover was necessary, it's great to have Armstrong on board moving forward.
What are your thoughts on the Falcons' special teams?