The Indianapolis Colts struggled in most aspects of the game in 2017, but their special teams was not one of them. At age 44, Adam Vinatieri continued to be one of the top kickers in the game, and rookie punter Rigoberto Sanchez had a phenomenal first season. Last week we graded the Colts Offense and Defense. Today, we’re talking special teams.
Kicking – Final Grade: B+
At age 44, Adam Vinatieri continued to produce, as he had a top half of the league accuracy, which included 5/6 from 50+ yards, and he was 22 of 24 on extra points. Based on his previous career success from less than 40 yards, it was surprising to see that he missed three of his 10 attempts from this range. Moving forward, as long as he wants to come back, there is no reason to think that he won’t be able to sustain his standard of production.
Punting – Final Grade: B+
With a severely inept offense, the Colts punting unit needed to step up. Sanchez definitely answered the call on this one. He finished the season 6th in net yards per punt, the second fewest returns allowed and only three total touchbacks on the season. All these great numbers come even though he was forced on the field far too often. He punted a total of 84 times all season, which was good enough for 9th most. Sanchez is only going to get better with time, and that will leave the Colts in very good hands for the future.
Kickoff & Punt Returns – Final Grade: D
The Colts defense was frequently unable to force three and outs and often gave up points, but the returners for the Colts weren’t able to do anything with their number of opportunities. They were 18th and 28th in kick and punt return averages respectively. Preseason fan favorite Krishawn Hogan suffered an injury that dampened their return game, and Quan Bray suffered an injury of his own that pushed the Colts further down their depth chart. Moving forward, the Colts need to get healthy and add playmakers that can provide a spark when the offense is sputtering as it has in previous years. There will be several free agents available, as well as, playmakers coming out of college that may not make rosters at their position but excel in the return game and can develop, like Tyreek Hill in Kansas City.
The Colts are a roster devoid of talent at several key positions, but, lucky for them, special teams is not one of them. Vinatieri will be back on another one year deal, while Sanchez is locked for the next two seasons. They will need to add an impact returner or two that can help turn the tide of a game when the offense is sputtering or the defense forces a punt. We’ve now graded the offense, defense and special teams. Later this week we will finish things off with Colts coaching grades.
- Kicking – B+
- Punting – B+
- Kickoff & Punt Returns – D
Total Special Teams Grade = C