The Dallas Morning News' Rick Gosselin's yearly special teams' rankings have become one of the main authorities on a subject that is oftentimes an afterthought when it comes to NFL rankings, so here's a little glimpse at how the Seahawks fared on the 3rd side of the football, special teams.
To compile his yearly rankings, Gosselin goes with the following stats, to which he assigns each team a number between 1 and 32, corresponding to how they ranked (1 being the best, 32 worst), league wide: Kickoff return, punt return, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, average starting field position after kickoff, opponent's average starting field position after kickoff, punting, net punting, inside-the-20 punts, opponent's punting, opponent's net punting, field goals, field goal percentage, opponent's field goal percentage, extra point percentage, points scored, points allowed, blocked kicks, blocked kicks allowed, takeaways, giveaways and penalties.
The Seahawks finished 5th in the NFL overall - trailing Minnesota, Cincinnati, Baltimore, and Miami. Seattle's composite score of 302 is down 11 points from 2011 (meaning, they improved in aggregate rankings), where they finished with 313 and in 7th place NFL-wide, trailing San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, Tennessee, New England, and Tampa Bay.
This no. 5 ranking should probably please Pete Carroll, though you know he'll be competin' like heck to get into that no. 1 spot next season. Carroll takes special teams very seriously, and a perfect example of this would be Seattle's blocked field goal attempt that was returned for a touchdown in Week 16 vs. San Francisco. On that special teams' snap, the Seahawks' highest paid defensive player, Red Bryant, blocked the kick, and it caromed over to the Seahawks' (possibly) best defensive player in Richard Sherman, who ran the ball back for a score. Considering many teams trot their 2nd and 3rd (or worse) team players out for special teams plays, fearing injury to their starters, it's no surprise that Seattle finished ranked so high. It may seem weird seeing Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, or Brandon Browner making tackles on special teams, but that's how Pete Carroll does things.
And that's on a fair catch. (From 2011, ... but my point stands).