I was curious about which players did the most in the special teams coverage game to get an idea about who was producing stops, so I went through all the game logs on NFL.com and recorded the stats of every player who made a stop on special teams this season. As a note, in addition to tackles, I included pushing the returner out of bounds as a stop. There weren't that many instances of this (perhaps a handful) so it doesn't inflate the tackle statistics by a noticeable amount.
In any case, here is what I found:
|Total ST Stops||On Punts||On Kickoffs||Misc|
|Edmond Miles||16||4||12||1 FF|
|Donnie Spragan||8||6||2||1 FR|
|Derrick Pope||7||4||3||1 FR|
|Derek Hagan||5||4||1||1 FF|
For starters, I would have never thought that Edmond Miles, an undrafted rookie free agent this season, would become the team's most active force on special teams. But that's exactly what he did. And he beat out everyone else on the team by a wide margin when it comes to total special teams stops. His 16 stops were twice as much as the next highest totals. He also added a forced fumble, which is the kind of special teams play that can turn the tide of a game. It's great that at least one young guy stepped up in an attempt to earn a spot on this team for the future. Miles should definitely stick around next season as one of the team's top special teams coverage men.
The opposite example of Miles' situation would probably be Cameron Worrell. This guy deserves a lot of credit for playing with all his effort when he was inserted in the starting lineup at safety despite his obvious shortcomings. While his effort can't be questioned, his output surely can. Forgetting about his play in the secondary, Worrell was brought in this offseason because he was a special teams stud in Chicago. Well, he was hardly better than average in Miami, tallying a mere 6 stops in the kicking game in 12 games before going down with an injury. Over a complete season, that number doesn't even project to a full 8 stops. He didn't step up in this area of the game when there was on obvious gaping hole for someone to fill. Considering the injury he is coming back from and his disappointing play this season, I see no reason to keep him around next year.
What is most shocking about this list is that only a single guy (Miles) recorded double-digit stops. Injuries probably played some part in that, but the only guy who went down with an injury who would have had a shot at reaching double-digits was Worrell. That's just not acceptable, and it is evidence of a lack of cohesion amongst the coverage units.
It's no shock then that Miami finished with the third worst average return yardage surrendered on kickoffs with a 25.8 yard average.
Of the teams with the top four average return yardage surrendered on kickoffs (Chicago, Tampa, Washington, and Jacksonville), three of them had at least two players who recorded double-digit stops:
- Chicago, 19.3 yard avg: Brendon Ayanbadejo (17 tck, 2 FF), Corey Graham (13 tck)
- Tampa, 19.5 yard avg: Kalvin Pearson (13 tck), Quincy Black (11 tck, 2 FF)
- Jacksonville, 19.7 yard avg: Brian Iwuh (16 tck), Chad Nkang (15 tck), Montell Owens (11 tck, 1 FF)