Joshua Cribbs Gives the Special Teams in Oakland a Huge Lift

The Oakland Raiders were not a good team in 2013. The offense was bad, the defense was bad and the special teams was terrible. The return game and the coverage teams were extremely poor, and one of the few coaches fired after the season was special teams coordinator Steve Hoffman.

The signing of Josh Cribbs does more to boost the Oakland’s special teams than any other move this offseason. New special teams coordinator Bobby April has to be happy that he has a special teams ace to help turn things around.

To put it all in perspective, Cribbs will help on kickoffs, punts, return kicks and return punts. Cribbs is a rare four-way dynamo on special teams. Even if Cribbs isn’t used on offense, he is exactly what the Raiders needed to ensure they improve in the forgotten third phase of the game.

According to Football Outsiders, the Browns had the second-best special teams in the entire league last year with Cribbs and the Raiders ranked 31st in the league. Although other factors play into the rankings, Cribbs was a big part of what the Browns were able to achieve on special teams.


Kickoff Return

The Raiders averaged 22.3 yards per kick return, which was well below average. Cribbs averaged 27.4 yards per return last season (25.9 yards per return in his career), and only seven players last year had a higher average. Over the course of a season, Cribbs would have given the Raiders approximately 14 yards per game more than they had last year.

That might not seem like a lot, but an offense’s chance of scoring greatly improves based upon the field position on first down. A difference of 14 yards per game is roughly equal to 0.8 expected points, according to NFL Stats Blog's data from 2011.

Obviously, not every return is going to be average, and there will be some games where the return game will help more than others. One big kickoff return could p...

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