One of the bright spots through the Broncos’ first five games has been the play of the team’s special teams units.
In his first season as the Broncos’ special teams coordinator, Jeff Rodgers has the league’s top-ranked punt return unit along with the No. 2-ranked net punting average entering the Broncos’ bye week.
“We’re not trying to put a bunch of emphasis on stats,” Rodgers said. “But net punts are an important indicator of how we’re doing field position-wise with returning the ball to the defense and vice-versa with opponent net.”
The Broncos have the league’s leading punt return unit, which has averaged 21.2 yards per return. Eric Decker has the highest punt return average in the NFL with his 25.6 yards per return. Quan Cosby joined the team in Week 3 and took over the punt return duties, averaging 16.8 yards per return, which ranks third in the NFL.
“Decker did a good job stepping in there early on in the season,” Rodgers said. “Then, Quan is a guy who’s had experience in the league and the one thing that jumps off the tape with him, even in the past before he got here, is he’s a fearless guy. He’s going to return for the team and is not a stat guy. He’s going to save us some field position and make sure the team’s successful.”
The Broncos are averaging a gain of 8.2 yards every time the ball is punted, which is second-best in the league this season. Thus far, Denver has gained a difference of 330 yards on punt exchanges, which is second-best in the NFL. Those extra yards translate into better field position for both the offense and defense when they take over after a punt.
As an overall unit, Rodgers knows that there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“I’d say we’re still a work in progress,” Rodgers said. “Guys are getting better, improving and hopefully we can play better down the stretch than we have.”