The New Orleans Saints special teams units improved on their second-place finish in 2018 by finishing first in 2019 in National Football League writer Rick Gosselin's comprehensive rating system that is considered a primary standard for ranking overall performance of special teams.
Typically strong performances by kicker Wil Lutz, punter Thomas Morstead and rookie Pro Bowl and Associated Press All-Pro returner Deonte Harris, along with solid performances in the coverage units, led by AP All-Pro J.T. Gray, led the Saints to their first-place ranking. The Saints special teams coaching staff was under new leadership in 2019 with special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi, assistant special teams coach Phil Galiano and special teams assistant Michael Wilhoite, all in their first season.
The Saints were No. 1 with 256 points in Gosselin's ratings system followed by the Bengals with 279.5 points and New England with 284 points. Other NFC South teams: Panthers 28th with 417 points; Falcons 30th, 451; Buccaneers 32nd, 491.5.
The rankings, based on 22 categories, are compiled annually by Gosselin, formerly of the Dallas Morning News and now with Sports Illustrated/Maven.
The Saints were first or tied for first in the following five categories:
Opponent punting: 42.4 yards.
Opponent net punting: 36.8-yard average.
Blocked kicks: Four, tied for first.
Kicks had blocked: None, tied for first.
Opponent blocked kicks: None, tied for first.
Other categories where the Saints scored in the top five:
Kickoff starting point: Fifth, 25.7-yard line.
Field goals: 32, second.