The Detroit Lions parted ways with a couple of long-time special teamers in 2021, but that didn’t slow down their overall play. With Matt Prater and Don Muhlbach no longer in Honolulu Blue and a new special teams coordinator in town in Dave Fipp, everything was lined up for Detroit to take a significant step back. But that never happened.
According to Rick Gosselin’s end-of-season special teams' rankings, the Lions finished the year ranked seventh in overall special teams. That’s certainly a credit to the job Fipp did this year, but there are also plenty of individuals who deserve some postseason praise.
With that in mind, it’s time to give out our second 2021 Pride of Detroit award: Special Teams Player of the Year. Here’s a look at our staff’s picks for the winner.
Previously: Breakout Player of the Year
Special Teams Player of the Year
Kellie Rowe: Jack Fox
I don’t know that I really need to explain this selection. This season, there have been ups. There have been downs. Like... a lot of downs. But Jack Fox being good at punting the football remains consistent. On top of that, Dan Campbell decided to unleash his big ole’ bag of tricks and Fox confidently executed the assignment. What’s that? You have a punter who can’t also throw? Can’t relate.
Erik Schlitt: Jack Fox
After setting Lions punting records, as well as earning Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors in his first NFL season, Fox went on to exceed expectations in year two. Not only did he break his own Lions’ records (49.2 gross yards per punt) but he also leads the NFL in both gross (49.2) and net average (43.5) over the last two years. The cherry on the top of all the production is, of course, his ability to convert trick plays. Not only did he successfully convert an onside kick, but he also showed he can sling it on fourth down fake punts, where he converted two of three on the season and was a Godwin Igwebuike drop away from being perfect.
Ryan Mathews: Defers to Hamza Baccouche
Whichever player Hamza picks is good with me.
Hamza Baccouche: Jack Fox
He wasn’t as consistent as he was in 2021, but he still posted a very respectable performance by setting numerous franchise records. He continued to confirm the narrative that he’s the face of the future for the Lions’ special teams unit.
Chris Perfett: Jack Fox
With the increased aggression in fourth-down decisions, Jack Fox took somewhat of a back seat this year—not to mention, it’s hard to top his performance in 2020. However, for the second season, he set a gross punting average record for the franchise.
For the 2nd consecutive season, @Lions P @MrJackFox established a new franchise record for gross punting average (49.2).— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) January 20, 2022
Since entering the #NFL in 2020, he leads the League in gross average (49.2) and net average (43.5).#OnePride pic.twitter.com/LgXel7sLZG
He remains, as always, a punting monster. Sorry, Jeremy, you’re wrong on this, punting can be beautiful in its own wretched way.
Morgan Cannon: Riley Patterson
Patterson went 16/16 on extra points, and 13/14 on field-goal attempts in his rookie year with the Lions. Nearly perfect is about all you can ask for from any kicker in the NFL, let alone a rookie signed off of a practice squad in the middle of the season.
Mike Payton: Jack Fox
It’s the punt god himself. Jack Fox did it all in 2021. He remained one of the better punters in the league while also making a case to be the Lions starting quarterback on multiple occasions. It’s nice to have a punter that can pull off a throw or two when you need it.
John Whiticar: Scott Daly
I think Jack Fox had another great year and C.J. Moore should be acknowledged as a special teams star, but Scott Daly deserves praise for filling the shoes of a beloved veteran. There was some bitterness in the fandom after Don Muhlbach was released after 17 seasons—and on his birthday no less. However, Daly had a quiet year with Detroit, and for a long snapper, that’s a positive. Moving on from Mule was a tough move, but fans should be happy with Daly.
Jeremy Reisman: Jack Fox
It says something that I’m willing to cede that Fox was the best special teams player when I absolutely hate everything about punting. He’s clearly one of the best punters in the league, but the fact that he can do something much more valuable than punting—throwing the ball—gives him the easy nod here.
Who was the Lions’ special teams player of the year?
This poll is closed
P Jack Fox
K Riley Patterson
LS Scott Daly