The Third Phase: Week 10

Neil Hornsby highlights the best contributions from the men that man the third phase of football, the special teamers.

| 4 years ago

The Third Phase: Week 10

third-phase-wk10After a couple of weeks looking at kick-off coverage and how the special teamer Pro Bowl nominations are shaping up, it’s back to our regular format this week to identify the five best performances of Week 10. However, looking at the man leading the field following our Wednesday analysis, it seems plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. It will take an awful lot from other players to catch a certain Arizona Cardinal before season’s end after another astounding display against the Texans.


1, Justin Bethel +6.0 – Arizona (24 snaps)

Roles (including snaps): KO Coverage – L2 (6), Gunner – R & L (5), Vice (6), KO Returns (5), FG/EP Blocks (2)

To put into perspective that grade, it’s the highest we’ve ever given a special teamer and is more than all bar two other people have for the entire season to date. If you saw the game you’ll understand just why he scored so positively with us (it would have been hard to miss), but if not here’s a run-down of what he did — Blocked a field goal to end the second quarter (he doesn’t even play on extra points), made two tackles and an assist, had his way with the Texan gunners all game, drew a penalty and blocked well on kick-off returns. In total, 11 positive interventions on just 19 opportunities, a remarkable ratio.

=2, Winston Guy +3.0 – Jacksonville (23 snaps)

Roles: KO Coverage – L4 (6), Punt Coverage – Right Wing (8), Vice (6), KO Returns (5), Punt Coverage (4)

Back in Week 5, another “Guy” made this list — DE Lawrence Guy of the Colts who was then promptly waived by Indianapolis and picked up by San Diego. However, that’s a mystery for another day and we will hope nothing similar happens to Winston. His pedigree is good, having spent some time last year with probably the best overall unit in the NFL, the Seattle Seahawks, but it’s delivery that matters and that’s what he did here, in the Jaguars’ first win of the season.

Three tackles or assists on only four returned kicks is an excellent number, and he also had another in punt coverage to go with a nice block on the R3 on a kick-off return.

=2, Jermaine Kearse +3.0 – Seattle (15 snaps)

Roles: KO Coverage – R2 (7), Vice (3), Kick Returner (3), Punt return unit (2)

Here’s why the Seattle special teams are so good. Alongside great ST specialists like Heath Farwell and Jeremy Lane the Seahawks mix in more starters than anyone else. Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, and Richard Sherman have all been integrated into various units and now, despite playing on a season high 69% of offensive snaps because of Sidney Rice’s injury, Kearse is still a key contributor.

Antone Smith has been probably the Falcons best third phase exponent, but in this match-up Kearse won his encounters decisively to the tune of two tackles on kick returns plus some excellent work holding him up as a jammer.

=4, Darrell Stuckey +2.0 – San Diego (25 snaps)

Roles: KO Coverage – R4 & L4 (5), Gunner Left (6), Punt Return Unit (5), KO Returns (5), FG/EP Blocks (4)

A week after I named him to my “All kick-off coverage unit” (that universally eminent group), Mr Stuckey showed little gratitude against the Redskins by missing three tackles and making none. He must have taken my stiffly worded rebuke to heart (the one I would have sent) because this week normal service was resumed with a couple of tackles on kick returns, two fair catches forced on punts, and additional good work on kick coverage playing force.

=4, Josh Thomas +2.0 – Carolina (21 snaps)

Roles: KO Coverage – R2 (3), Gunner Right (7), Vice (7), KO Returns (4)

With the emergence of Melvin White and Drayton Florence at corner, Josh Thomas has gone from Week 1 starter to not playing a defensive snap since Week 7. What better way to respond than by playing angry and taking that frustration out on the 49ers’ Darryl Morris? Two tackles, two forced fair catches and some “interesting” work as a solo hold-up (Quarter 3 – 9:33 left).


PFF Special Teamer – 2013 Roll of Honor

Week Winner Team Comment
1 David Bruton Denver One blocked punt, a penalty drawn preventing him from blocking another and quality blocking for the returner when the Ravens actually managed to get the ball away.
2 Blake Constanzo Chicago Consistently excellent blocking on kick-off returns and a forced fumble when covering a kick-off.
3 Jeremy Lane Seattle Primarily for his work as a vice holding up gunners but also made a tackle on a KO, downed a punt and drew a flag while playing gunner himself.
4 Damontre Moore N.Y. Giants Three tackles on coverage units, an assist and a partially blocked punt together with some excellent blocking.
5  Justin Bethel  Arizona A positive impression on eight of the 12 snaps he played – two tackles, beating a triple team, drawing a holding penalty, downing a punt, and great work as the single vice.
6 Taiwan Jones Oakland Outstanding work on punts. Slowed down the gunner on returns as solo vice to go along with three tackles in coverage.
7 Larry Dean Minnesota Did his part to keep the Vikings competitive with a key block on a punt return touchdown and forced fumble in punt coverage.
8 Justin Bethel Arizona Bethel becomes our only two-time winner to date with his usual combination of work in all facets of play; good blocking as the punt hold-up, a tackle on a kick return and a downed punt at the one.
9 Cedric Peerman Cincinnati Harrassed Miami punter Brandon Fields all day long as well as blocking well on kick-offs and making a tackle in coverage.
10 Justin Bethel Arizona Winning this award for a third time Bethel put in the best performance we’ve ever seen on special teams by having positively graded involvement in 11 of a possible 19 plays.



Follow Neil on Twitter: @PFF_Neil


| PFF Founder

Neil founded PFF in 2006 and is currently responsible for the service to the company's 22 NFL team customers. He is constantly developing new insights into the game and player performance.

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