You never fully understand just how important a good special teams unit is until you have a bad one. Flubbed punts, missed kicks, poor snaps and awful coverage can turn the tide of a game. It's fortunate, then, that the Falcons have a pretty good unit, though changes may be coming.
Selected in the 6th round of the 2011 draft by the Falcons, Bosher had a rough start in his rookie year. So rough in fact that fans were calling for his head very early on. It was a good thing the coaches were more patient, because once he settled down, Bosher has proven to be a very good punter and one of the few good things to come out of that 2011 draft class. His punting average of 45.9 is very respectable, but it is his ability to pin opponents inside their own 20 and 10 that has made him stand out. He also tackles Jets coaches like a mad-man, which gets him all sorts of street cred.
The "other" Matty Ice of the team, Bryant has often been the closer for many of Matt Ryan's 4th quarter heroics in recent years. However, 2015 was rough for the veteran as he ended the year on injured reserve after having a less than stellar season overall. The question is whether Bryant is getting too old. He turned 41 in May, which isn't necessarily unheard of for kickers, but he's definitely no spring chicken. The Falcons also brought in Nick Rose to compete in camp. If Bryant can hold off the competition, let's hope he returns to his previous form. If he does, we can hold off on the retirement party for one more year.
Look, it's hard to write too much about long-snappers, but Harris does his job and does it well. The fact that you never hear much about him speaks volumes.
As returners go, few have been as electrifying as Hester has been over the course of his career. But at this stage, the question is whether he'll ever be that again. After being sidelined for a large portion of the season with turf toe, it was clear that Hester wasn't 100% when he returned. Couple that with off-season surgery and there are big question marks about whether Hester will even make the team. Seventh rounder Devin Fuller figures to compete for the return man position, and could nudge Hester out of a roster spot - especially when you consider his three million dollar cap hit.
The Other Guys
Special teams are often made of "fringe" roster guys, but those guys have to be able to contribute on the field. These players are lead by Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong, one of the better special teams coaches in the league. There were rumors earlier in the year that Armstrong was looking to move on to the Jets, but nothing has materialized as of yet. Armstrong has been key in bringing along players like Eric Weems and he'll be asked to keep developing guys on the edges of the roster. He's a good coach - and so long as we keep him - he'll continue to have the Falcons special teams units performing well.
The Falcons have had some good - and often great - special teams units for the past several years. So long as they don't make any drastic changes, there's no reason to believe that won't continue to be the case.