In 2019, the New England Patriots traded for two-time special teams All-Pro Justin Bethel, creating the basis for a 2020 special teams stalwart led by the four-headed monster of Matthew Slater, Bethel, punter Jake Bailey, and punt returner Gunner Olszewski.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is well-known for his emphasis on special teams production. It seems his special-teams focused team-building strategy paid off, as New England found itself at the top of Rick Gosselin's 2020 special teams ranking.
Gosselin's ranking system uses 22 different kicking-game categories and uses teams' rankings within in each category to assign points: for example, the best team earned one point, the second best team earns two points, and so on.
The Patriots finished with a league-best 214 points, a mark that beat the second place Seattle Seahawks by 8.5 points and the third place Detroit Lions by 21.5 points.
Despite not leading the team to a top 5 position in any category, kicker Nick Folk was an important part of the special teams unit, finishing with a career-best 92.9 percent field goal success rate and going a perfect 13-for-13 on attempts inside the 40-yard line.
With the emergence of first-team All-Pro punt returner Olszewski and first-team All-Pro punter Bailey, it is no surprise that the Patriots dominated many of the punt and punt-return related categories.
As a whole, New England finished in the top 5 in 11 different categories, including punt return average, opponent starting position, punt yard average, net punting yard average, inside the 20 punts, opponent net punting yards, and points scored. The team was the sole first place leader for punt return average, net punting yard average, and points scoring.
While there are a myriad of questions surrounding New England's murky future, there is little doubt that the Patriots' special teams situation will continue to be one of the best in the league for years to come thanks to Belichick's attitude and the roster's young talent.