CFL Special Teams Power Rankings - A Week 14 Review
From booming kickoffs to long snap strikes, let's discuss how the CFL Special Teams units performed in this week's review;
Kickers attempted 22 field goals this week but only made 18 of them, giving them a completion percentage of just 81.8%. This is tied for the 2nd worst performance by a group of CFL kickers since Week 5. They fared better on PATS, with just 1 miss across 20 attempts. The 2023 CFL Season Field Goal Percentage now sits at 88% (259/294) with over 24 50+ yard field goals. Here are the CFL Week 14 Kicker Power Rankings;
Sean Whyte has demonstrated he is the most consistent kicker in the CFL and he will officially take over the number 1 spot in the Kicker Power Rankings. While Whyte has only gone 1/2 on field goals over 50 yards, he hasn't exactly been given the same opportunities as others (looking at you Paredes and Ward). Sean only has 3 misses in the entire season, and 2 of those came back in the first 2 weeks of the season. Since then, he has been nearly perfect, completing 50/51 (98%) of all his kicking attempts.
Lewis Ward struggled this week, completing just 1 of his 3 field goal attempts, which will ultimately be the reason he slides into Third Place in the Rankings. His only completion of the night was from just 19 yards, so nothing to write home about there. Ward ended up missing a 45-yard field goal off the goalpost and a 50-yarder that was returned 79 yards by the Hamilton Returner. Here are his highlights of Week 14.
Sergio Castillo was given a heavy workload and did not buckle under the pressure, making all 3 of his field goals (Long of 40 yards) and going 6/6 on PATs.
Boris Bede had a pretty decent week completing 4 of his 5 field goal attempts and going 3/3 on PATs. We haven't seen Bede get many kicking attempts as his team is consistently finding the endzone and scoring majors. This is highlighted by the fact that Bede is 2nd in the CFL for PATs with 42 attempts. The most impressive kick of the night was a new 2023 Long of 51 yards that was probably good from 55+ yards.
Dean Faithfull, the "47-year-old rookie", had the best night of his CFL Career. Despite his rocky start where he missed a 32-yard PAT that left Calgary with a 4-point lead, he showed resistance and determination for the rest of the game. Faithfull came back out with 5 minutes left on the clock to sink a 40-yard field goal to cut the Stampeders lead to just 1 point. After some good defensive/offensive plays, with double zeros on the clock, the Edmonton Elks managed to get the ball to the Stampeders 35-yard line. The stage was set. Faithfull lined up for a walk-off 42-yard field goal and SANK IT! I can only imagine how good this felt for Dean, who struggled to perform well early in the season. The Elks celebration has been viewed over 70 thousand times on Twitter alone. I love to see it.
Punters were employed 35 times this week, accumulating 1,645 yards (47-yard avg.) and 1,372 net yards. Their 39.2 net yards per punt average is the highest any group of Punters has recorded so far in the 2023 Season! Further, the Punters were able to keep 10 punts (28.6%) inside their opponent's 20-yard line with 3 remaining inside the 10. They also had 13 punts (37.1%) travel over 50 yards. For the first time in the 2023 Season, we haven't seen Punter receive a penalty for 2 weeks in a row! As of now, Punters have averaged 47.4 yards and 36.9 net yards per punt over the entire season. They have also kept 178/677 punts inside the 20-yard line, which accounts for approximately 26% of punts. Here are the CFL Week 14 Punter Power Rankings;
Cody Grace had a great game, punting 9 times for an average of 47 yards and 40.6 net yards per punt. He had 4 of his punts (44.5%) travel for more than 50 yards and had 2 punts (22%) remain inside the 20-yard line. He continues to show why he has been First Place in the Power Rankings for 14 consecutive weeks! Grace can also teach, showing TV Host Natasha Staniszewski how to pull off the perfect punt in a video released by the Stamps earlier this week.
Toronto Argonauts Punter John Haggerty has been placed on the 6-game injured list with a nagging knee injury and looks to be out until late October. In the meantime, we will be blessed with witnessing one of the rarest opportunities in professional football; A single kicker handling all 3 kicking duties. Boris Bede has been lights out in his replacement role. This week Bede punted 3 times for an average of 49.7 yards and 44.3 net yards per punt with 2 of his punts remaining inside the 20-yard line (this includes a punt that was only brought out to the 10-yard line). While I hope Haggerty is back out on the field soon, I am relieved to see Bede is a serviceable fill-in. If it wasn't for his limited number of attempts he might've dethroned Grace!
Adam Korsak had another good week, punting 5 times for an average of 50.4 yards and 39.2 net yards. While Korsak has only had 1 of his last 14 punts land inside the 20-yard line, 9 of his last 14 (65%) have been over 50 yards!
Kaare Vedvik had a bounce-back week, punting 5 times for an average of 48.6 yards and 40.2 net yards per punt. Vedvik had 2 punts (40%) remaining inside the 20-yard line with 1 punt (20%) traveling over 50 yards.
We only saw 21 Long Snap attempts in the CFL Highlight packages this week, so there was not much to go off of. Of those 21 Long Snaps, 20 of them, or 95%, were determined to be Strikes. As of now, Long Snappers are hitting a Strike Percentage of roughly 88% (357/402) over the 14 weeks of games. Here are the CFL Week 14 Long Snapper Power Rankings;
Jorgen Hus records 1 Strike and 1 Ball this week. This is only his 3rd Ball recorded over 12 games. Hus consistently puts the ball exactly where it needs to be which is shown by his Kickers kick percentage and his Punters high average.
Adam Guillemette hasn't had as many opportunities to show us what he's made of in his rookie season thus far but he was able to record 5 Strikes in what ended up being his best performance all year!
Louis-Philippe Bourassa has now had his last 17 snaps all count as Strikes with another 4 being added to his total this week.
Kickoff specialists had their best week yet; Averaging 67.7 yards across 31 kickoffs. They were able to efficiently showcase their placement abilities with 10 of those kickoffs (32.3%) remaining inside the 30-yard line! So far this season we've seen 374 kickoffs averaging roughly 65.3 yards per kickoff with 23.5% of them remaining inside the 30-yard line. Here are the CFL Week 14 Kickoff Specialist Power Rankings;
Boris Bede kicked off 5 times for an average of 72.2 yards per kickoff! He continues to impress, with 3 of his kickoffs (60%) remaining inside the opponent's 30-yard line. He also made this insane shoe-string tackle after Montreal Returner Chandler Worthy broke one free for 79 yards.
Sergio Castillo struggled on kickoffs, registering 60.4 yards over 8 kickoff attempts. Only 1 of his kickoffs remained inside the 30-yard line.
Dean Faithfull has really turned a corner since the Edmonton Elks Bye Week in Week 9. This week he kicked off 4 times for an average of 71.5 yards and Dean was also able to keep 2 of his punts (50%) inside the 30-yard line!
Kickoff Returners did not do much to impress this week, averaging just 21.2 yards per return over 31 returns. There were only 3 Returners that accounted for the 4 kickoff returns (13%) over 30 yards and we saw 1 fumble as well. So far in the 2023 season, we've seen 395 kickoffs be returned, with Kickoff Returners averaging 21.9 yards per return. Here are the CFL Week 14 Kickoff Returner Power Rankings;
Chandler Worthy had a great week, returning 5 kickoffs for 177 yards; An average of 35.4 yards per attempt. Worthy had 2 of his returns travel for more than 30 yards and this will propel him into the Second Position in the Power Rankings. He did unfortunately have a fumbled return but overall it was a good day for him.
Jamal Parker, who seems to be taking over return duties for Winnipeg, returned 1 kickoff for 30 yards. We'll see if he can continue to have success moving forward or if his job will be taken by another player.
Punt Returners also didn't do much to impress this week, averaging about 9.4 yards over 29 punt returns. Of these 29 returns, 6 of them (20.7%) were returned for more than 15 yards. Throughout the 2023 Season, Punt Returners are averaging about 11 yards per return (537 attempts) and 20% of those returns have travelled for more than 15 yards. Here are the CFL Week 14 Punt Returner Power Rankings;
Javon Leake returned 3 punts for a total of 46 yards this week, averaging roughly 15 yards per return. This actually brings his average down overall for his 2023 campaign which is incredibly impressive considering the league average is 11 yards per return. Leake added another 2 punt returns over 15 yards.
Tommylee Lewis was held to just 31 yards over 4 punt returns, averaging only 7.8 yards per return. He did have a long of 15 yards, which will push him just ahead of Leake for the highest number of punts over 15 yards. If he can break a few of these returns off for Touchdowns, he might be able to dethrone Leake by the end of the season.
Jamal Parker also had a decent week as a Punt Returner with 5 returns for an average of 11.2 yards per return. I'm hoping he can continue to have success for the Bombers. They really need something to happen at the Returner position.
Coverage Teams allowed an average of 9.4 yards per punt return (29 attempts) this week, which is below the season average of 11 yards allowed per punt. They also allowed 21.2 yards per kickoff return (31 attempts). This is pretty much on par with the Season average of 21.7 yards allowed per kickoff. Only 11 penalties were handed out this week, which is very low considering teams are averaging roughly 16 penalties a week. Here are the CFL Week 14 Coverage Team Power Rankings;
The Ottawa REDBLACKS allowed an average of just 8.5 yards on 2 punt returns and 20.5 yards on 4 kickoff returns, both of which are under the league average for yards allowed. This along with their low number of penalties received, of which they only had 1 this week, is what will keep them in the First Position.
The Edmonton Elks allowed an average of 7.8 yards on 4 punt returns and continue to dominate on kickoff returns, allowing an average of just 15.3 yards across 4 kickoffs. This might be due to Dean Faithfull's tendency to have a shorter kickoff than other Kickoff Specialists. They received 4 penalties this season, bringing their average up to 35 on the year. I think next year I'll be adding some sort of "Adjusted Yards" column to account for the penalties received on coverage teams.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats had a fantastic week, allowing an average of 8.4 yards on 5 punt returns and an average of 17.5 yards over 4 kickoff returns! They also stayed penalty-free, which is good for them as they were averaging about 3 special teams penalties a game before their Bye Week in Week 10. They're now just averaging 1 penalty per game.
The Toronto Argonauts continue to struggle on kickoff coverage but I have a theory as to why. They allowed an average of 35.4 yards per return over 5 kickoffs this week. It seems that yards allowed are directly related to how far your Kickoff Specialist is able to kick the ball. When Boris Bede kicks the ball 70+ yards the opposing returner is going to have much more room to make a long return because the Coverage Team has to run further to catch up. I think in the future I will have to account for that. That being said, the Argonauts are allowing the highest number of yards per kickoff, which cannot be glossed over.
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