3 special teams moves that the Falcons must make this offseason

Three under the radar moves that could make or break the Falcons special teams unit this offseason.

Indianapolis Colts v Atlanta Falcons
Indianapolis Colts v Atlanta Falcons / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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2. Upgrade the jammer position

Opposite of the gunner on punt returns, the jammer is responsible for preventing the gunners (re: jamming) from getting upfield. The better the jammer, the more time it buys the punt returner to make his decision on choosing a return lane, or if the ball is too close to the end zone, time for the ball to result in a touchback as opposed to being downed by the opposing gunners. While the hangtime and distance of the punt are out of the return team's control, there are two things the return team can control: choosing the correct return lanes and jamming the kicking team from getting downfield.

In 2022, the Atlanta Falcons league-leading punt returner, Avery Williams, averaged 16.2 yards per return off of 18 returns. Williams had three returns over 20 yards, including one return of 56 yards. Unfortunately for Atlanta, Williams tore his ACL in training camp and missed the entirety of the 2023 season. His replacement, newly-signed CB Mike Hughes, was a huge step back. Totaling a measly 67 yards on 11 returns, Hughes averaged only 6.1 yards per return- a regression of over 10 yards from Avery Williams' 2022 season.

The loss of CB Mike Ford (who played both the gunner and jammer positions in 2022) and subsequent replacements in Mack Hollins (gunner) and Tre Flowers (jammer) cannot be understated. Perhaps Williams was the primary reason for the punt return success in 2022, but some blame lies at the feet of the jammers assigned with establishing return lanes. The Falcons must address this if they hope to return to the success of 2022