Over the past two weeks, we have analyzed the Packers' 2014 roster position-by-position. Finally today we wrap up our analysis by examining the specialists. Check back here for our full coverage of our season review.
They were so bad that they got their coordinator fired. Give them an F.
Admit it, that's what you're thinking, isn't it? The Packers' special teams were a special kind of terrible in 2014, by any measure. Whether you're looking just at the big failures (like the seven blocked kicks and Brandon Bostick's inexplicable failure to block on an onside kick) or the more in-depth analyses (ranking last in Rick Gosselin's annual special teams rankings), the Green Bay units were a mess.
But here's the problem - we're only looking at three players in today's grade - the players who don't have a position other than on the kicking units. And of those three, two were solid while the third was only a minor disappointment. So really, for these guys, it wasn't that bad.
16 games; 27-33 on field goals (81.8%), 53-55 on PATs (96.4%); touchbacks on 46 of 115 kickoffs (40.0%)
First off, let's get one thing straight - Crosby had five kicks blocked this year, two on extra point attempts and three on field goals. If you take those attempts out, Crosby was 27-for-30 on three-pointers, a 90% hit rate which would have gone down as the best of his NFL career. Of course, there's no guarantee that he makes all three that were blocked, but the point remains that Mason had one of the best seasons of his professional life, and did so on the back of his best career year in 2013.
Does he sometimes leave something to be desired on kickoffs? Sure. But he was excellent in clutch situations (think the 48-yarder to send the NFC Championship Game into overtime, for example), and when he was kicking from 50 yards or more, he was 4-for-5 on unblocked attempts.
Furthermore, with the abysmal performance of the blocking units, who are you likely to blame for those blocks: Crosby, or the players in front of him? Crosby has earned every penny he has made over the past two years and deserves a great deal of credit for turning his career around after his painfully bad 2012 season.
16 games; 49 punts, 2,159 gross yards (44.1 gross average); 1,888 net yards (37.0 net average); 14 inside 20, 4 touchbacks
In all honesty, it seems the biggest complaints about Masthay's 2014 season revolve around the timing of his struggles. Through 12 games, Masthay carried an average of 45.75 gross yards per punt; after that (including playoffs) he averaged just 39.2. Oh, and those two blocks didn't help, but much like Crosby, were probably not the Ginger Wolverine's fault.
Still, his regular season average was right about the same as his career average (44.3), and it's not like he was B.J. Sander or Derrick Frost. But where his production pales is in comparison to modern competition; though Masthay's 44.1 was good for tenth all-time in Packers history, he was just tied for 25th among all NFL punters in 2014.
16 games; zero bad snaps
Really, the stat above is the only thing that matters for Goode. Does he contribute heavily on coverage teams in terms of tackles? Not really. But I'll take a guy who fires off every snap on target over one who makes a bunch of highlight-reel tackles and a handful of blooper-reel snaps.
Overall Grade: B
This grade is reflective of the individual performances here. A kicker who might have put up a career-best season had it knocked away from him thanks to a porous line. The long-snapper came to work and did his job and was never heard from, the way it should be. The punter struggled in the second half of the year, but was solid early on.
All told, not one of these three players contributed to the Packers releasing Shawn Slocum from his duties as special teams coordinator. As such, we believe their grade should and does reflect that fact.
Note: Crosby and Goode have contracts which run through 2015, while Masthay's goes through the 2016 season.