On Friday, the Associated Press announced that Green Bay Packers kick returner Keisean Nixon was named a First-Team All-Pro for the second consecutive season, despite being snubbed by Pro Bowl voters in each of the last two years. According to the Packers’ press release, 36 of the 50 All-Pro voters sent in a ballot with Nixon as the first-place kick returner. Only Cordarrelle Patterson, Devin Hester and Mel Gray join Nixon in NFL history as back-to-back First-Team All-Pro kick returners.
With that being said, everything wasn’t peachy on the special teams front for the Packers in 2023. While their kick return game was great, the unit took a step back in other areas compared to coordinator Rich Bisaccia’s first season with the squad.
According to long-time NFL writer Rick Gosselin, who grades out special teams play at the end of every NFL season, the Packers ranked 22nd in the NFL in special teams last year. Per Gosselin, Green Bay fell all the way back down to 29th in 2023, a bottom-quartile position that fans are far too familiar with.
No team was more penalized on special teams this year than the Packers, who were called for 19 accepted fouls that resulted in 178 free yards for their opponents. For perspective, the league average was 12 penalties for 98 yards in 2023.
On top of that, the big leg of rookie draft pick Anders Carlson was supposed to help the team kick more touchbacks this season. Instead, despite moving on from the aging Mason Crosby, the Packers still managed to finish in dead last place in the league in touchback percentage at 43 percent. For perspective, the Dallas Cowboys — Green Bay’s opponent this weekend, kicked touchbacks on 91 percent of their kickoffs this year.
So celebrate Nixon’s accomplishments. I will. Just know there’s plenty of room for growth for the Packers in the third phase of football next season. Penalties and short kickoffs are near the top of the to-do list.