According to SI.com Rick Gosselin’s popular annual rankings, the Indianapolis Colts finished with the NFL’s 4th best overall special teams unit following the 2020 season:
2020 NFL SPECIAL TEAMS RANKING
1. New England 214
2. Seattle 222.5
3. Detroit 235.5
4. Indianapolis 244.5
5. New Orleans 260.5
6. Baltimore 263.5
7. Miami 281.5
8. Buffalo 287
9. Chicago 292
10. Arizona 311
11. Dallas 311.5
12. Cincinnati 316.5
13. Houston 325
14. Jacksonville 325
15. Carolina 344.5
16. Las Vegas 346.5
17. Philadelphia 361.5
18. Pittsburgh 383.5
19. NY Giants 398
20. Kansas City 398
21. Denver 413.5
22. Atlanta 420
23. Tampa Bay 420
24. Tennessee 424.5
25. Washington 425
26. NY Jets 438
27. SF 49ers 451.5
28. Cleveland 465
29. Green Bay 492.5
30. LA Rams 507
31. Minnesota 518
32. LA Chargers 519
Gosselin ranked 22 different special teams categories, and the Colts specials teams units stood out in kickoff returns (5th), kickoff starting point (5th), field goals (5th), and points scoring (1st) among them.
It’s worth noting that PFF (subscription) ranked the Colts as having the league’s best overall special teams units this past season with a +91.4 overall grade.
The Colts special teams units have one of the league’s better young kicker and punter duos.
Colts punter Rigoberto Sanchez was tied for the 5th highest percentage of punts pinned inside the opponent’s 20-yard line at 45.5%, while rookie Rodrigo ‘Hot Rod’ Blankenship (despite two late season misses) made 32 of 37 field goals (86.5%)—finishing with the 5th most total points scored (139) during 2020.
Meanwhile, Colts scatback Nyheim Hines has already cemented himself as one of the league’s best punt returnman, as he returned 30 punts for 300 total punt return yards in 2020, while averaging the NFL’s 6th best punt return average at 10.0 yards per punt return (and even had a few big ones called back by penalties).
Colts rookie kick returnman Isaiah Rodgers finished 3rd in highest kick return average (28.8 ypr. avg.) on 24 total kick returns (including a touchdown).
Last but not least, the Colts special teams units feature NFL First-Team All-Pro special teams gunner George Odum, who led all NFL special teams units with 20 tackles, and showed a knack for keeping well placed Sanchez punts out of the end zone to prevent touchbacks and provide the Colts defense with great field position to feast upon—by pinning opponents deep by their own goal line:
What a job by Rigoberto Sanchez and George Odum to pin the Bengals back to their own 1-yard line on that punt.— Andrew Walker (@AWalkerColts) October 18, 2020
Joining him among top league special teams honors was Colts NFL 2nd-Team All-Pro longsnapper Luke Rhodes—as the converted linebacker is also an asset in special teams coverage:
Punt cover team deserves a game ball for setting up the safety. First punt attempt of the season and executed perfectly.— Kevin Bowen (@KBowen1070) September 22, 2020
Tremendous by Rigoberto Sanchez/Luke Rhodes/George Odum: pic.twitter.com/3Q8SygoS4Q
Finally, it would be amiss to not mention Colts rookie linebacker Jordan Glasgow, who’s emerged as a core special teams player—just as general manager Chris Ballard envisioned when selecting him in the 6th round of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Glasgow received PFF’s 5th highest special teams grade at +90.7 overall (as for what it’s worth, his teammate Odum ranked 2nd with a +91.2 overall grade)—as the rookie partially blocked a punt against the Chicago Bears earlier in the season:
Chris Ballard drafted Glasgow for his special teams ability. If he does nothing else this blocked punt justifies that decision. #ForTheShoe#DaBears#INDvsCHI pic.twitter.com/57IevwkLIi— Chris Shepherd (@NFLscheme) October 4, 2020
The Colts have been regarded as a well-rounded, complete team, and their ability to play at a pretty high level on offense, defense, and even special teams is a testament to that.
Ballard has assembled a quality team in all 3 phases of the game—and standout special teams play while often overlooked, is no doubt a very important component of consistently winning football games.
The 2020 Colts were very good at it and should be going forward.