INDIANAPOLIS — The 2016 season turned out to be the last hurrah for the Three Special Teams Amigos: Adam Vinatieri, Pat McAfee and Matt Overton.
With McAfee deciding to retire after the season to dive head-first into a full-time career in entertainment, Vinatieri and Overton now are wondering who will (even try to) fill that void moving forward?
While new Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard is yet to make that decision — free agency (which begins March 9) and the draft (at the end of April) are still weeks out — let's take this opportunity to review the play of Vinatieri, McAfee and Overton (who each had outstanding seasons once again) in their final season together in 2016, as well as review the play of all of the Colts' special teams units.Vinny
When Adam Vinatieri connected on his last 25 field goal attempts to end the 2015 season, there was a little chatter about, with a hot start to 2016, how he could break the league's consecutive made field goals record.
And 18 made field goals later — 43 in a row, in all — Vinatieri had. indeed, broken yet another NFL kicking record. His 28-yard field goal Week 7 in a win over the Tennessee Titans broke former Colts kicker Mike Vanderjagt's league record of 42 consecutive made field goals.
He would make one more just to put the cherry on top before the streak would come to an end.
Vinatieri put together yet another solid campaign in his 21st NFL season in 2016. Had it not been for the Baltimore Ravens' Justin Tucker putting in one of the better overall seasons by a kicker in recent memory, Vinatieri could've been an easy selection for his fourth Pro Bowl.
In 2016, Vinatieri converted 27-of-31 field goal attempts, as well as all 44 of his point-after attempts. He was one of four kickers in the league to make 100 percent of their PATs throughout the season. Vinatieri's 87.1 field goal percentage ranked tied for sixth in the league.
But he showed that, at 43 (and 44 by the end of the season), he can still boot it deep with the best of them. Vinatieri in 2016 converted 7-of-9 field goal attempts from 50-plus yards, which ranked tied for second in the NFL in that category.
For his efforts, Vinatieri was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for October. It marked the fifth time he earned the award in his career (October 1998, September 1999, November 2004, November 2015) and his second as a member of the Colts. Vinatieri's five Special Teams Player of the Month Awards are tied for the most in NFL history with Jason Hanson, David Akers and John Carney.
Vinatieri converted all 12 field goal attempts and all 13 PATs for 49 points in the month of October. His 12 field goal conversions led the NFL and his 49 points ranked second.Boomstick
If 2016 is indeed Pat McAfee's final season as a punter in the NFL, then the Boomstick went out with a bang.
McAfee's 49.3 yards-per-punt average not only led the NFL in 2016, but it established a new team record for a single season, breaking his own mark of 48.2 yards per punt that he set in 2012.
Also, by averaging 50.8 yards per punt Week 17 in a win against the Jacksonville Jaguars, McAfee tied another one of his team records (one he also accomplished in 2011 and 2015) by averaging 40.0 yards per kick in all 16 games of the season.
His five 50.0-yard average games in a single season also tied his own team record that he accomplished back in 2012.
McAfee also completed a 35-yard pass play Week 12 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, earning a 118.7 passer rating for his efforts.
Seriously, though, McAfee certainly went out on top, being selected to his second Pro Bowl (though he wouldn't play due to a knee injury), and being named All-Pro by The Sporting News, which is voted on by the league's 32 head coaches. Though it looks like he'll be sticking around Indy — and continuing to be involved in some team activities — McAfee will certainly be missed in more ways than one.Other notes
And, of course, the man delivering snaps to both Vinatieri and McAfee the past five seasons has been Matt Overton, who, once again, had no major snapping issues throughout the 2016 season. That's all you can ask out of your long snapper.
Overton also had two special teams tackles on the year, just for good measure.
The Colts' return game, meanwhile, proved to be pretty solid in 2016 — particularly on kick returns. With touchbacks now going to the 25-yard line, teams mostly decided to take their chances against a return, and the Colts would end up ranking fourth in the league with a 25.1 -yard kickoff return average.
The highlight, of course, came Week 9 against the Green Bay Packers, when Jordan Todman took the game's opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. He would add another 61-yard kickoff return to start the second quarter.
Todman registered the team's first kickoff return for a touchdown since Dec. 30, 2012, against Houston (Deji Karim, 101 yards). It was also the first kickoff return for a touchdown on the opening kickoff of the game for the Colts dating back to Dec. 10, 1995, at Jacksonville (Aaron Bailey, 95 yards).
Todman — who was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts — had a total kickoff return average of 80 yards, setting a Colts' single-game record with a minimum of two returns, and breaking Bailey's 66-yard average from back in 1995.
As far as punt returns go, the team started out with Quan Bray — who had a terrific rookie year as the team's primary returner in 2015 — but he would go down with an ankle injury by mid-October, ending his season.
After a few other experiments, the Colts would stick with rookie wide receiver Chester Rogers as their primary punt returner. Rogers would have some early trials and tribulations, but he recovered nicely to end the season with 13 returns for 119 yards — an average of 9.2 yards per return
As far as the Colts' coverage units, they got a nice surprise out of undrafted rookie Matthias Farley out of Notre Dame, who led the team with 12 special teams tackles in 2016. And Todman not only was a key kick returner for the Colts, but he also tied Josh McNary for second on the team with 11 special teams tackles. Inside linebacker Edwin Jackson would contribute 10 special teams tackles, as well.Number to remember
19: The number of 100-point seasons by Adam Vinatieri in his career, an NFL record. Vinatieri — who converted 1-of-2 field goals and two PATs for five points Week 14 against the Houston Texans to eclipse 100 points on the year — ranked fifth in the AFC with 125 total points.
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