From: Cedar Rapids, IA
I'm surprised that our kick coverage graded out so poorly in 2013. That was Walsh's first year with the team, and he tends to boom kicks so deep that there is often no return. The numbers seem to confirm that:
They did give up 1 KO return for a TD, but otherwise, the numbers from the KOs in 2013 don't look bad. Not sure how they merit a -15.4 ranking that season.
The terrible kick coverage numbers in 2011 were no doubt impacted by the fact that Longwell struggled to get the ball into the endzone reliably (only 19 touchbacks on 77 kickoffs which was one of the worst ratios in the league that year), and he graded out as the 3rd worst kicker in the league in terms of kickoff distance:
Another factor that year was Hester tearing a new one through the Vikings special teams that year, including a 98-yd TD KO return. His return ability was unique, and he represents an outlier when measuring special teams. Facing Hester twice during those seasons when he played for the Bears while many other teams didn't face him at all definitely skewed the Vikings ST coverage numbers negatively compared to other teams.
Overall, I'd say the PFF ranking numbers are questionable at best. Simple measurements like average return yardage per kick off, or average opponent starting field position (which would factor in touchbacks) tend to be good indicators for the overall ST coverage ability, but they don't seem to match up with the PFF numbers very well.
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