Marvin Mims Jr. might be the best special-teams player in football
Nov 15, 2023, 12:27 PM
(Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)
The contributions from second-round pick Marvin Mims Jr. to the Broncos offense have only come in fits and starts — and largely happened in the season’s first three games.
But one thing has remained a constant for the rookie wide receiver: His sensational work on returns.
Marvin Mims Jr. with an explosive kick return
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2023
Mims earned the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after a Monday night performance in which he had a 31-yard kickoff return and two punt returns of 17 and 27 yards, respectively. Both of the punt returns set the Broncos up for their ensuing possessions near midfield, putting them in position for their two touchdown drives of 52 and 54 yards.
His runbacks — along with four takeaways from the Denver defense — ensured that the Broncos had excellent drive-starting field position for most of the 24-22 win over the Buffalo Bills.
“It was significant,” Broncos coach Sean Payton said of Mims’ returns. “I felt like we played a lot of the game on their end of the field. What happens when you do that is the mistakes are magnified when they make them, and they’re not as glaring when you make them.”
Mims has the unique distinction of leading the NFL in punt-return average (20.7 yards) and ranking second in kickoff-return average (33.6 yards) among players with at least 2 kickoff returns.
He is the first player in 13 years and just the second since the AFL-NFL merger to have at least 2 kickoff returns an 2 punt returns to average at least 20 yards per punt return and 30 yards a kickoff return through nine games since 2010. At that time, Seattle’s Leon Washington stood on that pace.
Prior to Washington, the last player to have those averages through nine games was Chicago’s Gale Sayers in 1965 — who, of course, became a Pro Football Hall of Famer. According to pro-football-reference.com, Mims is the ninth player all-time with those averages through nine games with multiple punt and kickoff returns — but just the fourth since 1960, when the Broncos began play.
At this moment, Mims is historically productive and dynamic. And perhaps no one player is more responsible for turning Denver’s special teams from one of the league’s worst units into one of its best.