Grading the Washington Football Team 2021 special teams

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 09: Joey Slye #3 of the Washington Football Team celebrates a successful field goal with teammate Tress Way #5 in the second quarter of the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on January 09, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 09: Joey Slye #3 of the Washington Football Team celebrates a successful field goal with teammate Tress Way #5 in the second quarter of the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on January 09, 2022 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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Washington Football Team DeAndre Carter
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – DECEMBER 05: DeAndre Carter #1 of the Washington Football Team returns a punt against Dallin Leavitt #32 of the Las Vegas Raiders during the third quarter at Allegiant Stadium on December 05, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

Washington Football Team kick and punt return game

There was only one return-man for the Washington Football Team in 2021. DeAndre Carter held the kick and punt return duties, and he was phenomenal.

I’m not going to lie to you. I did not think Carter was going to make the team out of the preseason. He was 28 and only really seen as a returner when there were some better options at wide receiver. And even with his “returner” status, it’s not like he was some major threat.

Carter got a spot though, but that didn’t stop me from doubting him. I’m 100% serious. In the game against the Atlanta Falcons (Week 4), Carter fumbled a kickoff (he recovered it but still). At this point, he had some decent returns but nothing crazy. And he wasn’t part of the offense either. I told a friend after the fumble that I didn’t know why he was on the team.

Carter returned the opening kickoff of the second half 101 yards for a touchdown. After that, it seemed like 90% of his kick returns were really good. He was also pretty dangerous returning punts. Carter even became a decent weapon on the offense. I was a momentary hater and DeAndre Carter made me look really stupid. Kids, don’t be haters.

Carter ended the year averaging 25.1 yards per kick return with the one touchdown on 36 attempts. Only two teams averaged more than that. And only seven other teams returned a kick for a touchdown (with the Minnesota Vikings and Kene Nwangwu being the only team/player with two).

Carter also averaged a solid 8.4 yards per punt return on 16 attempts. This put him middle-of-the-pack. But considering he had both duties and was solid on one and fantastic on the other, it’s hard not to be impressed. Especially when he started getting a bigger role in the offense (finished with career-highs of 24 receptions for 296 yards and three touchdowns). He even threw in 10 carries for 89 yards because why not?

DeAndre Carter was pretty sure-handed when receiving the kicks and punts. And he was a pretty dangerous returner, giving the Washington Football Team good field position pretty often. It’s hard not to give him a great grade.

With that in mind, he gets the return unit a phenomenal A- grade.