When analyzing the coming contest with the Miami Dolphins, one thing becomes abundantly clear: the Bears have their most lopsided special teams advantage of the 2010 season.
The Bears are fourth in kickoff return average; the Dolphins twentieth. Neither team has scored a touchdown but the Bears have a 4-1 advantage when it comes to returns over forty yards. The combination of Devin Hester’s return to the goal line and the Dolphins sporting the third-worst kickoff coverage in the league leads me to believe Tony Sporano will have to either instruct Dan Carpenter to directionally kick the ball towards the sidelines or watch the Bears dominate the field position battle. (I also hope the Dolphins aren’t kicking off all that often.) I continue to contest that when teams try to kick off away from Hester, they end up getting themselves in an awful lot of trouble.
There have been only five punt return touchdowns this season. Two by Devin Hester. Two by Dez Bryant. And one by the rest of the NFL. (Hester and Bryant are also 1-2 in the league in return average.) Brandon Fields has had a difficult time getting his punts off this season, never mind aiming them for the sidelines. Brad Maynard’s kicks have been below mediocre this season but his lack of distance has been balanced by the almost total lack of return yardage.
And the Dolphins delivered one of the world’s worst special teams performances this season against the New England Patriots. The performance was so disastrous that coach John Bonamego was fired the following morning. Just watch the highlights of that performance (linked above) and you’ll be salivating at the thought of our specials facing these guys.
The Bears have a propensity for blocking kicks and live off the return yard. Thursday night they should be able to compensate for the night-averse quarterback and short-week struggler head coach but controlling possession throughout.