Each year the NFL players have a Pro Bowl vote to decide who is the best of the best. I’m not sure of the weight the players’ vote carries alongside the fans, coaches, and media votes when it comes to deciding the rosters.. but it’s still a cool thing to be a part of each year. It’s the active players deciding who are “THE GUYS.” MVPs, Comeback player of the year, Pro Bowlers, awards, all of that.. This vote meant more than the other 3 by a mile in my eyes. Respect amongst your peers is something you can only earn. You can’t be given these votes by a good PR push from your agent or an agency, or by being a part of a team with a larger and more passionate fanbase, etc., etc.. It’s the guys who’ve been in the locker room and in the game voicing their opinions on who the studs are in the league. There’s a ballot and a HUGE stat packet handed out to each position group on each team.. the players gather around and chat about it after the work day is complete.. Names are tossed forward, a “yay” or “nah” situation happens, then somebody goes thru the stat packet and lobbies for or against that player, it becomes quite a learning process.
When you’re in the middle of an NFL season, you live in a bubble, it’s Groundhog’s Day, work and sleep is pretty much your entire season.. you don’t get to watch many other games or players outside of who you’re playing each week. You can hear some buzz about how Saquon is doing, but you’re traveling or playing on Sunday’s normally so you don’t fully understand until whomever has the stat packet says “Saquon has 100,000 yards this year”.. that’s when players start talking about the finer details on why it’s either impressive or isn’t at all to them.. which D Lines Saquon has played against, his o-line.. “He’s doing that with “insert name of shitty offensive lineman” or “insert example of defense he played against in the year” type of quotes get tossed around at a high frequency… “I could do that shit too in that situation” might be said.. These votes, just like society, are not immune to some haters hating.
Punters and kickers also get voted upon. Long snappers don’t get voted on, that’s a conversation for another day. They deserve that honor as well.. anyways.. A former colleague of mine took a picture of the NFC punt stat page handed out to the players for the vote and sent it to me.. He said that when it came to the specialist vote the room yelled “#ForTheBrand”.. made me feel good deep in my plums. Anyways.. here’s the stats for the NFC punters that the players looked at yesterday.
I’d assume some folks believe that the best punter is the one who can kick the ball the furthest the most often… That is a GREAT quality to have as a punter, but 1 stat can’t give you all the answers.
Punting stats should come with a little deeper thinking.. For instance.
High gross averages might correlate with being the punter for a team who’s offense might struggle or stall out early.. Because obviously there is a much larger field to work with when you go on the field to punt after a 3 and out after a touchback then when your team picks up a a couple first downs then have to punt.. That can drastically change the strategy of the kick. It’s no longer a “bomb” mentality, it then becomes a pooch/pin mentality which leads me to the..
Inside the 20 stat.. HUGE stat.. The punter’s job is to create a field position advantage. Pinning a team deep is the ultimate task for a punter.. If you have a good defense who can 3 and out or pick-6 a team after you pin them .. that’s some beautiful field-position harmony.. Punters are looking to pin folks inside the 20, but we don’t bank on the inside the 20 stats to tell us if a guy is having a good year or not.. Situational stuff comes into play there A LOT. Pooch opportunities vs Big field opps. Andy Lee is tied for the most inside the 20 in the NFC, but… he’s also had more than double the amount of punts than Hekker. 77 punts is A LOT of punts. Law of averages type of stuff here..
Returns Given Up/Return Yards are a couple good stats to look at for how a guy is doing. You can correlate that with net and gross and put together a pretty good idea on how the guy has punted.
What I’m trying to say with all of this… is just like any other stat.. The numbers don’t Bob Ross the whole story.. You gotta dive deeper than the numbers.. With that being said I think The Bomber From Down Under.. “Ok Cool, Hook ‘em”’s finest.. Michael Dickson is probably the guy in the NFC this year being voted by the players. Cameron Johnston also INCREDIBLE year…
Something to be mentioned.. Pro Football Focus.. Collinsworth’s stat company.. Watches EVERY SINGLE PUNT.. and scores them. It’s a highly respected grading system amongst every player I know. Much more so than any of the media folks’ rankings. They released some punter rankings yesterday as well..
Palardy leading the way.. What this tells us is that Palardy has been having an incredibly consistent season.. Happy for Palardy, the guy deserves to have a great season..
THAT’S NOT WHAT THIS BLOG IS ABOUT THOUGH
This blog is about the NFL, sabotaging the legacy of Legatron. The number 2 punter on PFF’s ranking… doesn’t even show up on the NFC’s Pro Bowl voting sheet because Drew Brees is too damn good. He hasn’t punted enough to show up in the stats. Everybody knows how I feel about Drew Brees and his baby..
That was a terrible moment in my life.. and they just look too damn cute.
But the fact that Morstead’s year has just been erased by the NFL is a truly disgusting act against the brand. EVERY PUNT MATTERS. We all know that. I’d also like to argue that it is HARDER to punt less. I’ve been on both sides of the plate here. I was on a team that was undefeated until we chose to lose against the New York Jets. Peyton Manning was the QB, we didn’t punt often. Then, I was on a team a couple years later that was almost completely defeated until Dan Orlovsky came and won us 2 games. We were about a game away from owning the “Most punts in a season by a punter” record in the NFL.
The year I was punting 7-8 times a game was much easier than when I was rarely punting at all. When you get a lot of opportunities a lot of things happen, especially in a position in which your “average” means everything. When you have a lot of opportunities that affords you a lot of fuck ups, without screwing the average up as much. You also get into a flow, a rhythm, you start feeling the game a little bit. When you’re punting once a game, it is very difficult to catch a rhythm. You also can’t fuck up AT ALL. Every. Punt. Matters. at that point. If you hit a shank, your numbers are ruined for weeks. If you’re hitting 6 punts a game, you can hit a shank or 2 a game and make up for it with the other 4 punts.
I know Thomas Morstead’s reputation from the media right now is “a guy who’s over paid and out of work.” But there’s a reason the Saints gave him that contract. He’s incredible. He’s the guy, alongside Jamie Kohl, who taught me how to punt. He’s the guy who I’d call during the season if I had a question. He’s the guy, who is the best pure punter the game has ever seen…. He just so happens to be a little bit of a nerd, and A LOT A BIT underused at the time being… But don’t you worry.. You don’t need a good punter.. until you really need him. At some point during this magical run that the Saints are on, The Long Legged Piss Missile Legatron will be called upon to flip the field to keep the other team out of a game tying field goal or tudder.. and that’ll be the day the city of New Orleans and all the humans in WHO DAT Nation will toss their beads in appreciation.. of Thomas Morstead.
Congrats to Dickson, Johnston, Lee, Palardy, and all the boys of the NFC for putting on a great show this year.. No matter how often you were called upon. Cheers boys. #ForTheBrand