Commentary

Brendon Ayanbadejo's special world

Three-time Pro Bowl player stands atop new Football Outsiders special teams ranking

Updated: September 30, 2010, 10:02 AM ET
By Aaron Schatz | Football Outsiders
Getty ImagesAyanbadejo, seen here last year, is a force on special teams.

Special teams gunners don't get a lot of love. Sure, they get one Pro Bowl slot set aside in each conference, but you won't find them on a list of the league's best tacklers. Their tackles just get tossed in with all the other tackles when it comes to league stat totals -- and nobody makes a list of which gunners do the most to take down a punt returner before he can even get a yard.

Until now.

We've counted up all the returns from the last five years to create three new stats: Return tackles, return stops and return saves.

Return tackles

Return tackles are simple: the number of tackles and assists that a player makes on kick and punt returns. This doesn't count onside kicks or end-of-half squib kicks.