The Detroit Lions' special teams fell out of the top 10 in the 2018 season for the first time in three years in a comprehensive system generally recognized as the NFL rating standard.
The Lions ranked 12th overall in a system based on 22 categories compiled annually since 1980 by Dallas Morning News and Talk of Fame Network columnist Rick Gosselin.
The Lions ranked second in 2016 and sixth in 2017.
The 2018 season was one of upheaval for the Lions' special teams, and it is reflected in their slide in the rankings.
Jamal Agnew, who was first team All Pro as a punt returner as a rookie in 2017 with two returns for touchdowns, went out with a knee injury in the fifth game. He played only one more game the rest of the season.
View team photographer Gavin Smith's best stylized photos of the Detroit Lions' special teams from the 2018 season.
The Lions dropped from a league-high average of 14 yards on punt returns in 2017 with Agnew the primary return man for the full season to 6.3 and a tie for 26th in 2018.
Penalties and coverage breakdowns early in the season also were a problem. Veteran special teams coordinator Joe Marciano was released midseason.
John Bonamego, a veteran NFL special teams coordinator, was hired this week. Bonamego spent 16 seasons coaching special teams in the NFL, including the 2013-14 seasons as the Lions' coordinator. He left in 2015 to become head coach at Central Michigan University, where he spent the last four seasons.
The impact of special teams is evident in the rankings. Seven playoff teams finished in the top 11. That includes the opponents in Super Bowl LIII. The Rams are ninth and the Patriots 11th.
The Lions ranked No. 1 in three categories – opponent starting position (23.8-yard line), extra point percentage (100, with Matt Prater 30 for 30) and opponent field goal percentage (19 of 28 for 67.8 percent).
Categories where the Lions ranked lowest were punt return average (26th, 6.3 yards), punt return coverage (31st, 11.4 yards) and penalties (27th, with 22 for 202 yards).