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2023 Detroit Lions awards: Special Teams Player of the Year

Voting for the Detroit Lions’ best special teams player from the 2023 season.

NFL: Detroit Lions at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Our 2023 Detroit Lions Pride of Detroit awards continues after kicking off on Monday with Breakout Player of the Year.

Today, we move to the third phase of the game. And for as much grief as I give special teams, it can undoubtedly make a huge impact on a game. The Super Bowl provided a great example of that, as a missed extra point and a fumble on a punt return turned out to be two of the biggest plays of the game.

The Lions have always spent a lot of resources on special teams, and they have one of the best special teams coordinators in football with Dave Fipp. While this was a relatively average year for special teams in Detroit, there were still some standout performances.

So here are our nominees for Detroit Lions Special Teams Player of the Year. Don’t forget to vote in the poll at the bottom of this article.

Chris Perfett — Jalen Reeves-Maybin

Jeremy is going to try to tell me special teams aren’t real, but if they’re not real then Jalen Reeves-Maybin might be Mara, the Buddhist demon that traps all within illusion. 14 coverage tackles (tying the NFL lead) and converting two fake punts, one on a direct snap. My god man, All-Pro, I forsake the perfect universe and select to live in the Matrix instead. Special teams now, special teams forever.

Erik Schlitt — Jalen Reeves-Maybin

Reeves-Maybin’s All-Pro and Pro Bowl nominations were not by accident, as he once again proved why he is one of the best special teams players in the NFL. Not only did he successfully convert two fake punts, but he was also a tackling machine, topping the charts (along with Houston’s Neville Hewitt) with an NFL-leading 14 tackles on special teams.

Hamza Baccouche — Jack Fox

Jack Fox, and it’s not much of a debate. Not only was he the only specialist who was with the Lions the whole season, but he finished the season red hot and was a key part of the Lions’ playoff run, especially in the Wild Card win over the Rams. As an added bonus, having continuity at holder is a very underrated part of the Lions being able to rotate kickers and long snappers during the season.

Morgan Cannon — Jalen Reeves-Maybin

This was the biggest no brainer for me. Seemingly every week Reeves-Maybin was making a big tackle on a kickoff, or toting the rock on a fake punt to convert a fourth-down. Beyond being one of the best special teamers in football, he provides quality depth for the linebacker group, and is a tone-setter in the locker room.

How can you argue against an All-Pro nod? As a whole, it was a step back for the Lions special teams this season, but a massive step forward for Reeves-Maybin. He had previously been known as a special teams ace, but this was the year he truly earned the ace title. Whether it’s with tackling or fake punts, he’s a reliable option for the Lions.

John Whiticar — Jalen Reeves-Maybin

How can you argue against an All-Pro nod? As a whole, it was a step back for the Lions special teams this season, but a massive step forward for Reeves-Maybin. He had previously been known as a special teams ace, but this was the year he truly earned the ace title. Whether it’s with tackling or fake punts, he’s a reliable option for the Lions.

Brandon Knapp — Jack Fox

Out of all of the special teams players, he was the most consistent at his job. The kicking game was never there, injuries affected the long snapper position, and while the trick plays on fake punts were cool, not all worked. Fox continues to be one of the best punters in the league.

Meko Scott — Jalen Reeves-Maybin

I easily could have picked Jack Fox here because he has been the model of consistency his entire career here in Detroit, but instead I’m going with JRM. Dating back to his first run with the Lions, we all knew that Reeves-Maybin was a force on special teams and a leader in the locker room. To return this season and pick up where he left off and earn himself a Pro Bowl spot in the process just goes to show how special he is in that phase of the game.

Ryan Mathews — Jack Fox

Although this isn’t the best year Fox has had in his career, he was still really effective in flipping the field for Detroit, finishing top ten in punts downed inside the 20 (t-10th, 30), average hangtime (second, 4.62), and percentage of punts returned (sixth, 36.8%). He was especially good down the stretch for Detroit as well. In Weeks 15-18, Fox finished with the second-best average hangtime (4.64), tied for ninth in punts downed inside the 20 (7), and first in percentage of punts returned (12.5%).

Jeremy Reisman — Jalen Reeves-Maybin

Anyone who can turn a punt into an offensive first down is a hero in my book. #TeamNeverPunt

Poll

Who was the Lions’ Special Teams Player of the Year?

  • 71%
    Jalen Reeves-Maybin
    (1164 votes)
  • 27%
    Jack Fox
    (451 votes)
  • 0%
    Other
    (15 votes)
1630 votes total Vote Now

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