All Manning Era Team: Special Teams

All Manning Era Team: We take a look at the greatest single seasons by position in the Peyton Manning Era (1998-2011).  Today, we look at the:

 Special Teams:

 Special teams are quite possibly the most underrated part of football.  A game can change in a moment, thanks to an incredible special teams play.  While the Colts have gained a reputation as having a bad special teams unit, they have had some incredible seasons by some incredible players.

 The kicker on this list was between two seasons: Mike Vanderjagt’s 2003 season and Adam Vinatieri’s 2010 season.  Vanderjagt earned the spot on the team.  He has a terrible reputation among Colts fans, and part of it is deserved.  But Vanderjagt is one of the most accurate kickers of all time and made a lot of kicks for Indy.  In 2003, he made 100% of his kicks he attempted.  He was 37/37 on field goals (with 1 over 50 yards) and 46/46 on extra points.  Total for the year he was 83/83 kicking.  That is as good as it gets.

 His holder for those kicks has the complete opposite reputation as Vanderjagt.  While Vanderjagt is known among fans as “Vanderjerk” or “Vanderchoke”, Hunter Smith is affectionately known as “Hunter the Punter”.  Smith was a fan favorite during his entire tenure in Indianapolis.  He had many great seasons, but in 2005 the punter was at his best. Smith punted 52 times and averaged 44.3 yards per punt (with a long of 58).  9.6% of Smith’s punts went for a touchback, and a stunning 44.2% of his punts were downed inside the 20 yard line.  Of all his seasons in Indy, Hunter the Punter’s best was 2005.

 The return game has been whyIndianapolis’ special teams have been viewed badly.  In fact, when I was going through the stats by year, I was just trying to find someone who took more than one kick back for a score in a single year.  I found one.  In 1999, Terrence Wilkins averaged 22.2 yards per kick return and scored on a kick return, while also averaging 9.5 yards per kick return and another score.

 Special teams are one of the biggest game changers in football, and these 3 seasons are the ones that definitely deserve to represent the unit on the All Manning Era team.

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About Josh Wilson
Follow Josh on twitter @jwilsonWL, on Facebook at the Operation: Freedom page, or you can reach him by email at operation.freedom@yahoo.com.

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