Far too many fans seem to take a solid special teams core for granted.
Yes, most of the scoring happens on offense. And, yes, the defense is actually the ones whose job it is to stop the opposing offense. But a great special teams unit is deadly.
Just think at how much better off the Baltimore Ravens were during the decade-plus that Matt Stover spent on the team. It was a rarity to see the guy miss a field goal. In my opinion, he was probably the most reliable kicker in history—modern history at least.
It's common sense, people! Don't take special teams for granted.
Kicking and punting is most likely a bit too boring for those casual football fans. That's where return men like Dante Hall, Devin Hester, and Josh Cribbs come in.
Hall, ("The X-Factor"), now 31 and currently unemployed, was one of the most electrifying kick/punt returners in the game while with the Chiefs in the early 2000s. The two-time Pro Bowler returned six punts and six kicks for TDs during his nine year NFL career.
Hall was dethroned of the title "most electrifying return man" a couple years later when Hester, in his rookie campaign in '06, returned three punts and two kicks for TDs.
Hester topped that performance in his sophomore season with Chicago, returning four punts and two kicks
for TDs. Unfortunately, Hester hasn't returned a ball for a touchdown since then.
Both Hall and Hester had just two or three great seasons until they slowly faded away—most likely as a result from seeing less kicks come their way.
The two had burning speed and could change directions on a dime, making them tough to bring down. They also had very recognizable names.
Josh Cribbs, Cleveland's 27 year old WR/return specialist, is nothing like the others. Cribbs is built much larger (6'1", 215 lbs.), yet has the ability to change directions just as quickly.
His size allows him two options—he can either run through or around you. Defenders seem to underestimate his speed because of his powerful, bruising size.
In each of his five NFL seasons (all with the Browns), Cribbs has returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown, including three this past season (two in one game against Kansas City). This allowed Cribbs to set the all-time record for career KO returns for TDs with eight.
This is quite an accomplishment since Cribbs has played just five seasons so far. He set this record while returning a total of 265 kicks. It took Hall 426 kick returns to get to six career TDs.
So, while you guys may be choosing the flashy Hall or Hester (in their prime, of course), I will choose the overall more athletic—and consistent—Josh Cribbs, who very well may double his TD total by the end of his career.