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The Falcoholic Midseason Position Review: Special Teams

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Fact: Matt Bryant once killed a yak from 100 yards away with mind bullets

Buffalo Bills v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have been decidedly mediocre on special teams this season. According to Football Outsiders, their special teams DVOA is -0.5%, 18th in the league. For context, that means they’re basically slightly below average. Last season their special teams DVOA was 0.7%, 12th in the league. In short, they’ve regressed a little bit. Let’s break this down further.

Matt Bryant

Notwithstanding his current left leg injury, Bryant is still Mr. Dependable. (Bryant is listed as “probable” for tomorrow’s game agains the Cowboys.) He has knocked down 15 of his 18 field goal attempts, including 4 of his 5 attempts over 50 yards. He’s also converted every point after attempt this season. If the 42 year old can stay healthy, then we have nothing to worry about. But if his health remains tenuous, we’ve already seen that Dan Quinn is willing to modify his game plan in risky ways, if needed. The Falcons added kicker Mike Meyer to the practice squad earlier this week, so Bryant’s health is worth keeping an eye on. The Falcons kicking attack is earning them 2.7 more points/game than league average, which is solid.

Matt Bosher

Bosher has gotten some flack from the fan base this season. He’s averaging 44.8 yards/punt, down slightly from the past couple of years. (46.8 yards/punt in 2016 and 47.2 yards/punt in 2015.) The Falcons punting attack isn’t really hurting their bottom line, but it’s not exactly helping either. According to Pro Football Focus, Falcons punts are losing them 0.1 points a game. Good news is that the Falcons’ kickoffs are earning them 2.7 points a game.

Andre Roberts

Roberts is averaging 8 yards/punt return and 19.9 yards/kickoff return. As a result, the Falcons rank 24th in the league in kickoff return average and rank 16th in punt return average. On their face, Roberts’ returns don’t look bad. He’s got the skill and speed to be effective under the right circumstances. But from a pure numbers standpoint, the Falcons are losing points because of their kick and punt returns. (2.8 and 3.1 points per game respectively, according to Pro Football Focus.) Should we blame his supporting cast? Sure. But I’m more inclined to blame Keith Armstrong. (More on that tomorrow.)

Josh Harris

Harris’ long snaps continue to snap, with one exception. His botched snap against the Miami Dolphins basically allowed them to tie that game at 17-17 before eventually defeating the Falcons, 20-17. Given his track record, there’s no reason to doubt Harris’ ability and we should call the botched snap what it was: an anomaly.

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