As we conclude our unit ranking series, we look at the special teams units of the teams in the division:
After being brought in a few games into last season, Nick Novak really was not that much better at field goals than what the Texans have before him in Randy Bullock. Novak made 18-21 field goals, good for 85.7%. Bullock was 5-6, which is 83.3%. The advantage that Novak had was the extra points—which Novak missed just two of while two missed PATs got Bullock sent out of town.
Shane Lechler earned the reputation of being one of the best punters in the league during his time in Oakland, but the big legged former Texas A&M Aggie really looked his age last season. He ranked 26th among 32 qualified punters in net last season at 38.8 yards. He had a league high ten touchbacks and one of the highest punt return averages against in the league.
Keith Mumphery is handling the bulk of the punt return duties, and when he’s on the roster bubble, that’s not a good sign. The Texans need to hope somebody steps up as a returner during training camp, and the coaches are betting mostly on fourth round pick Tyler Ervin, the San Jose State speedster who was likely brought in for this exact purpose.
The Texans were among the worst teams last season in both punt and kickoff coverage (ironically the best in the division in punt return average against though still bottom 10 in the league), hopefully new special teams coach Mike Vrabel will fix that up. They are going to need to in order to move up the list.