CFL Special Teams Power Rankings - A Week 10 Review

From Punt Return Touchdowns to almost matching a CFL Kickoff Record, Week 10 of the CFL season delivered some great moments. Let’s discuss how the CFL Special Teams units performed in this week’s review;

Kickers

For the first time in the 2023 CFL season, Kickers completed 100% of their field goal attempts! They attempted, and made, 13 field goals this week, with 2 hitting from 50+ yards out. Unfortunately, the Kickers were not entirely perfect this week, they completed 26 of their 27 PATs (96%). Here are the CFL Week 10 Kicker Power Rankings;

Punters

The punters did not fare as well as the Kickers did this week. They punted 50 times for an average of 43.3 yards (Season Low) and 35 net yards per punt. Their 11 punts over 50 yards is a new Season low of just 22%. Punters also only had 11 punts (22%) land inside the 20-yard line, which is below league average. There was an uptick in penalties received, with 2 being handed out to Punters this week, something that hasn’t happened since week 2. Here are the CFL Week 10 Punter Power Rankings;

  • Cody Grace punted 9 times for an impressive average of 47.4 yards and 39.6 net yards per punt. There were 2 of his punts (22%) that remained inside the 20-yard line with 1 inside the 10-yard line. Grace also had 3 punts (33%) travel further than 50 yards. This performance would be impressive enough for him to make the PFF Honour Roll for Week 10.
  • John Haggerty had his worst week yet, averaging just 42.3 yards and 32.5 net yards over 4 punts. While 1 punt (25%) remained inside the 20-yard line, this is a less-than-ideal performance from Torontos Punter. I believe a lot of his struggles came from punting into the crazy 30km/h wind that was present in The Six.
  • Adam Korsak had his worst week of the 2023 Season after only averaging 38.8 yards and 35.5 net yards per punt, with only 1 of his 8 punts travelling over 50 yards. The highlights of his week include 2 punts (25%) remaining inside the 20-yard line and this Onside Punt attempt that happened late in the 3rd Quarter when Saskatchewan was trailing big time.
  • Stefan Flintoft had a hot-and-cold week, punting 6 times for an average of 44.5 yards and 36.2 net yards per punt. While 3 of his punts (50%) travelled further than 50 yards, none stayed inside the 20-yard line. This is not surprising considering he was tasked with kicking to Calgary Stampeder Tobias Harris, who is averaging 13 yards per return, enough to bring most kicks outside the 20-yard line. While his coverage team didn’t help him this week, his ability to consistently hit punts over 50 yards (44% of the time) is what raises him in the Power Rankings this week.
  • Jamieson Sheahan didn’t have a great week, I’m not going to sugarcoat things for you. He averaged just 36.8 yards and 28 net yards over 5 punts and also managed to be penalized for a punt out of bounds. His only highlight of the night was his 1 punt (20%) remaining inside his opponent’s 20-yard line.
  • Some news regarding Bailey Flint. It looks like for the second time this season, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are going to be searching for a replacement as their starting specialist returns home to handle a personal matter and is now on the Suspended List. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have traded away veteran QB Antonio Pipkin to the Saskatchewan Roughriders in exchange for Global Punter Kaare Vedvik! We last saw Vedvik in 2022, when he punted 107 times for an average of 43.2 yards and a net average of 36.2 net yards per punt. You can read what I had to say about him at the end of the 2022 CFL Season Here.

Long Snappers

There were 22 Long Snaps that were shown in the CFL-Official Highlight Packages this week, which is much lower than the season average of 28.4 Long Snap highlights per week. Of these 22 Long Snaps, I determined that 20 of them were Strikes, giving the Long Snappers of the CFL a 91% Strike Rate. Here are the CFL Week 10 Long Snapper Power Rankings;

  • Jorgen Hus had 6 long snaps highlighted this week, with all of them being listed as Strikes. Hus is the most consistent long-snapper in the CFL and it isn’t particularly close at this point. I expect he and Calgary’s Aaron Crawford will be battling it out for the #1 Spot for weeks to come!
  • Riley Picket had 3 more long snaps all count as Strikes this week. This means he has been perfect (in the highlight packages) for 4 weeks and over 20 long snaps!
  • Despite his kicker “missing” 2 PATs this week, neither were Adam Guillemette’s fault. He had 2 clean snaps shown and 2 clean Strikes called. When Boris Bede’s PAT resulted in the ball flying behind the group, it was actually due to a botched hold, not a bad snap. While I would still like to see more highlights from Guillemette, for a rookie, he is performing extremely well.
  • Tanner Doll will drop a few spots after only having 3 Strikes on his 4 long snaps shown this week. His consistency is starting to waver, and he currently has the most Balls (6) in the CFL.
  • Maxime Latour has only been in Calgary for 2 weeks and he has been a serviceable replacement for the CFLs most successful Long Snapper, Aaron Crawford. This week he goes 3/4 on called Strikes. While I’m glad he got the opportunity to play again, it looks like he will be searching for a new team soon (unless Calgary keeps him around on the PS) as Crawford is set to come off the injury list on August 17th.

Kickoff Specialists

The 39 recorded kickoffs this week is a new season-high, beating out the previous record of 37 kickoffs from Week 3. On those 39 kickoffs, Kickoff Specialists averaged 66.7 yards per kickoff, which is also a season-high. An already extremely impressive week was capped off with 10 kickoffs (25.6%) remaining inside the 30-yard line and 2 Kickoff Rouges! Here are the CFL Week 10 Kickoff Specialist Power Rankings;

  • Boris Bede continues to dominate the CFL at kickoffs and in my opinion, he is not being noticed enough for it. Over 8 kickoffs, he averaged an insane 73.4 yards. He also had 2 kickoffs remaining inside the 30-yard line. Remember that intentional grounding penalty he took? He was so determined to get that point back that he came right back out onto the field and kicked the ball 98* yards for a Rouge! Did you know the Endzones in BMO field are only 18 yards long? I didn’t. That’s why I said he matched a CFL record of 100 yards.
  • Sergio Castillo kicked off 7 times for just 64.7 yards per attempt, which is lower than his season average of 66.5 yards. This is offset by the fact that 3 of his kickoffs (42.9%) remained inside the 30-yard line. A truly impressive week from Sergio.
  • Stefan Flintoft averaged 60.6 yards per kickoff on 5 attempts, but was still able to have 2 of the kickoffs (40%) remain inside the 30-yard line.
  • Dean Faithfull had an interesting game, averaging a season-high 75.8 yards on 4 kickoffs. This average was heavily skewed by his first-ever Rouge on a Kickoff. Faithfull just could not finish the night on a high note, as he received a penalty for Kickoff Out of Bounds, which resulted in the ball coming all the way up to the opponent’s 50-yard line.

Kickoff Returners

There were 36 kickoffs that Returners fielded this week, accumulating a total of 770 yards, and averaging 21.4 yards per return. This is representative of the league average on the season; 21.7 yards per return. There were, however, just 3 kickoff returns (8.3%) that travelled over 30 yards. Here are the CFL Week 10 Kickoff Returner Power Rankings;

  • Mario Alford returned 5 kickoffs for 115 yards, an average of 23 yards per return with his longest of the night travelling 37 yards.
  • With Janarion Grant out until at least September 14th (Week 15) according to the CFL Transaction Page, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers need a serious change at returner. Greg McCrea, who has returned 5 punts for just 106 yards (21.2 avg) is not the answer and I would like to see someone else get an opportunity to show what they can do in the return game.
  • Tyson Philpot had a better game than Chandler Worthy this week, with his 1 return being brought back for 35 yards.
  • At this point in time, I would also like to see a change in Kickoff Returner for the Edmonton Elks. Gavin Cobb has now returned 6 punts for over 25 yards per return with 2 of those going for more than 30 yards and is currently the best option in the roster.
  • While Jackson Bennett is still receiving reps as a returner, Tobias Harris is quickly catching up to him in terms of production. This week Harris accumulated 135 yards on 6 Kickoff Returns. Both of them will likely see a decrease in playing time at the position as it was announced that Brandin Dandridge is officially on the active roster as of August 15th!
  • CJ Sims is not performing as a Kickoff Returner and it’s starting to seriously affect his position in the Power Rankings. With an average of just 19.5 yards on 6 attempts this week, I need to see some big improvements moving forward if he is to climb back up the ladder.

Punt Returners

There were exactly 41 punts returned in Week 10, something we’ve seen happen in 4 weeks throughout the 2023 CFL Season. Punt Returners managed to wrack up 413 yards for an average of 10.1 yards per punt. They had 10 returns travel over 15 yards with the longest accounting for a 79-yard touchdown return! Here are the CFL Week 10 Punt Returner Power Rankings;

  • I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t start this section off by talking about Javon Leake. He was responsible for 127 return yards on 6 punts. That’s an incredible average of 21.2 yards per return. Leakes highlight of the night came on this 79-yard Punt Return Touchdown! He now leads the CFL with 3 Touchdowns to his name.
  • Mario Alford returned 5 punts for a total of 37 yards (7.4-yard Avg.) with his longest return of the night being 15 yards.
  • Tommylee Lewis had another 5 punt returns for an average of 9.2 yards per attempt. He had 2 returns (40%) travel over 15 yards. I swear he is so, so close to breaking one all the way to the house for a touchdown. Lewis now leads the league in the number of punt returns over 15 yards, reaching this mark on about 42% of his attempts.
  • Tobias Harris returned 4 punts for 39 yards, an average of 9.8 yards per return. His longest return of the night was 17 yards.
  • Chandler Worthy returned 5 punts for just 25 yards, with his best return of the night going for 21 yards. This means he averaged just 1 yard per return for the other 4 punt returns. Not exactly the elite player we’ve seen earlier this season.
  • CJ Sims had his first good week in quite some time, as he returned 4 punts for 44 yards, an average of 11 yards per return. He had 2 of those returns (50%) travel for more than 15 yards and his longest return was good for 19 yards.

Coverage Teams

Overall, Coverage Teams across the CFL played well against punt returners, allowing an average of 10.1 yards per return (The season average is 11 yards allowed per punt return), however, 1 punt was returned for a Touchdown. They were just average on covering kickoffs. allowing an average of 21.4 yards per return (The season average is 21.3 yards allowed per kickoff return). There was an uptick in penalties handed out this week, with a total of 19 flags being thrown onto the field during Special Teams. Note that the average “No-Yards” penalty adds another 15 yards to the return and, moving forward, they will hold more weight in the Power Rankings. Here are the CFL Week 10 Coverage Team Power Rankings;

  • Even though the Ottawa REDBLACKS allowed an average of 21.2 yards on 6 punt returns, they are still somehow below the league average of 11 yards allowed this season. They allowed an average of 19 yards on 5 kickoff returns, which is still below average for the league. The most impressive part of this REDBLACKs team is how little they are penalized, accruing an average of just over 1 per game.
  • The Montreal Alouettes continue to impress, allowing an average of 7.4 yards on 5 punt returns and an average of 23.6 yards on 7 kickoff returns. Their 20 penalties may start to negatively affect their ranking if they don’t sort them out quickly.
  • The Winnipeg Blue Bombers played average this week, allowing an average of 11 yards on 4 punt returns and an average of 21.1 yards on 7 kickoff returns. They did receive 3 penalties, which is not what you want from your Coverage Unit on game day.
  • The Saskatchewan Roughriders managed to hold opposing punt returners to an average of just 4.3 yards over 6 attempts; a good night for an otherwise porous Punt Coverage Unit.
  • The Toronto Argonauts continue to be one of the most disciplined Special Units, accruing 0 penalties this week. They allowed an average of 9.8 yards on 4 punt returns and an average of 22.1 yards on 7 kickoff returns.
  • The BC Lions had a good week allowing an average of 8.3 yards on 6 punt returns and an average of 17.8 yards on 5 kickoff returns. Maybe it would have been considered a good week if they didn’t also receive 5 penalties. This unit is extremely undisciplined and the coaching staff needs to step in here. Having 30+ Special Teams Penalties in 9 games is unacceptable.

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