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Seahawks special teams appreciation Saturday
Jason Myers, Michael Dickson, Nick Bellore, and Larry Izzo: Seaside Joe 1384
I missed the Vikings-Colts game today because I was at Avatar 2 instead. I think the Vikings game was probably shorter.
If you don’t want to read a spoiler for Vikings-Colts, you can skip ahead. I won’t spoil Avatar 2 either, but my sidenote to that is that I don’t even think those movies are spoilable. Spoiler: Visual effects!
What struck me the most in the first half of Saturday’s first NFL game is how many times Indiapolis had to settle for a field goal, which stands out with the benefit of hindsight. Colts kicker Chase McLaughlin had a career-day by going 5-of-5 on field goals and 3-of-3 on extra points, but Indianapolis would have won if he had been 4-of-4 on field goals and 4-of-4 on extra points instead.
It made me think of how lucky the Seahawks have been to have Jason Myers and Michael Dickson at a time when the defense is so bad and the offense is underwhelming compared to the offense that Seattle would need to have in order to compete in most games.
The Myers signing was heavily criticized in 2019. Despite being a Pro Bowler with the New York Jets in 2018, many felt and still feel that teams shouldn’t pay for anything more than a street free agent kicker. Those concerns seemed justified after Myers went 6-of-11 beyond 40 yards in his first season in Seattle, 40-of-44 on extra points, but volatile is as volalite does: Myers was the only kicker in the NFL to have a perfect field goal season in 2020 for players who had more than 16 attempts.
Myers was 24-of-24, 2-of-2 on field goals, and 49-of-53 on extra points. He also had the NFL’s longest made field goal, 61 yards.
Myers missed out on the Pro Bowl to Atlanta’s Younghoe Koo, who hit an NFL-best 37 field goals and was 8-of-8 beyond 50, but Myers is destined to return back to the Pro Bowl this season. Now for the NFC.
Myers is 26-of-27 (NFL-best 96.3%), his 26 field goals made are the most in the NFC, and his six made field goals beyond 50 yards is tied with Koo for the second-most in the conference behind Brett Maher of the Cowboys. Myers is also one of three kickers in the NFL to be exactly 37-of-38 on extra points; five kickers have made 100% of their PATs, but none with more than 27 attempts.
What’s surprising is just how much better kickers have gotten in recent years in general. Perhaps the longer distance PAT has inspired kickers to increase their abilities. There are four kickers who have made a FG of at least 60 yards, while Myers’ long of 56 is only tied for the 14th-longest long field goal in the NFL.
As recently as 2014, the longest kick made was 58 yards, a tie between Buffalo’s Dan Carpenter and … Stephen Hauschka of the Seahawks.
Many expressed fear when Seattle let Hauschka go in 2107 and sure enough he had a great year with the Bills (replacing none other than Carpenter), but Hauschka was all but out of the NFL by 2020.
Who knows how much longer Jason Myers can continue to be this good, so let’s appreciate him while we still can.
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As a punter, Michael Dickson has greater odds to be on the Seahawks for a long time after today’s newsletter, but surprisingly the Australian hasn’t made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro roster since his rookie season in 2018. However, Dickson is averaging a career-high 44.8 net yards per punt this season, good for first in the NFC (by a full yard) and second in the NFL behind the monstrous 47 net yards per punt of Kansas City’s Tommy Townsend. The difference being that Dickson is on the Seahawks, so he’s had 52 punts.
Townsend is work colleagues with Patrick Mahomes, so he’s only punted 34 times.
However, Dickson has longer odds to make the Pro Bowl than Myers does. He’s just sixth in Pro Bowl voting as of the latest count.
Nick Bellore seems to be closing in on his second Pro Bowl in the last three seasons as Seattle’s special teams captain. The Seahawks rank second in the NFL in overall special teams DVOA at FootballOutsiders, behind only the Baltimore Ravens.
I don’t consider the Ravens to be in the same league as the other 31 teams in special teams though. As the only NFL team coached by a former special teams coordinator, Baltimore’s rank in special teams DVOA has been: first in 2021, second in 2020, ninth in 2019, sixth in 2018, first in 2017, fourth in 2016, first in 2015, second in 2014, third in 2013, first in 2012, fourth in 2010.
The only time that Baltimore wasn’t ranked in the top-10 since 2010 was 2011.
And they say special teams is volatile and unpredictable. It helps to have the greatest kicker of all-time. Seattle has also been consistent since adding Myers and Dickson, but will special teams coordinator Larry Izzo get a head coaching opportunity one day too?
I can’t rule it out. As an undrafted free agent in 1996, head coach Jimmy Johnson famously said that Izzo was the only player other than Dan Marino who was guaranteed to make the team. He won three Super Bowls with the Patriots, was named to three Pro Bowls, named to the Patriots All-Dynasty team, and was a special teams assistant on the 2011 Giants when they beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Now he has overseen one of Seattle’s best runs on special teams ever.
Avatar isn’t a movie that anyone should appreciate because of the plot, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value. The Seahawks are struggling in two of three phases of the game themselves, but there’s another area of the sport that deserves appreciate too.
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