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Dolphins special teams ranked 12th for 2014

Every year the Dallas Morning News conducts a comprehensive study of the special teams for all 32 NFL teams. The study looks at 22 categories -- obvious ones like field goal percentage and not so obvious ones like takeaways and giveaways -- and then ranks all the teams based on a point system.

And the results of that study this year found that Miami's special teams ranked 12th overall in the league.

And that is, well, pretty good.

If the Dolphins ranked No. 12 in every statistical category, they'd probably be in the playoffs. Indeed, the Dolphins ranked higher than five playoff teams.

There are categories that need work. Miami had the most giveaways in the NFL in 2014 with four. Opponents also had the second-highest field goal percentage against the Dolphins.

But there were building blocks as well: The Dolphins were sixth in the NFL in kickoff return average.

Were there hiccups on special teams in 2014? Yes. No doubt the successful fake punts by the Lions and Jets come to mind. But the Dolphins special teams also had fine moments such as the blocked field goal and return by Dion Jordan against the Lions.

And overall, the ranking speaks well of the job special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi did.

A troubling thing for the Dolphins (not their fault but still troubling) is that the Buffalo Bills ranked No. 2 on special teams in this study. And the New England Patriots ranked No. 3. The New York Jets ranked No. 20.

No doubt if Rizzi can straighten out kicker Caleb Sturgis, whose field goal percentage was 27th in the NFL, and get punter Brandon Fields back on track after his net punting average dropped to 23rd, the Dolphins may be able to score even higher in 2015.

Of course, that assumes both Sturgis and Fields are still on the team in 2015.