The Overlooked: The 2010 Eagles Special Teams (Part 1 of 2)-Punters

Hi to all the BGNers out there, this is my first attempt at a Fan Post.  I've been reading this blog for a while now and finally decided to start posting (see the fanpost on DeSean Jackson's want for a new contract).  Hopefully this will be the start of more for me.  In advance, I apologize for the steadily worsening of the depth of my write up, it's been an odd process with the times I've been writing at.  Actual fan post follows:

What I have noticed is that our special teams for 2010 have barely been discussed on BGN.   Bob_Q informed us of the signing of former Redskins and Packers punter Durant Brooks, leading me to think about next year's special teams squad.  What will it look like, who will play where and other than Tracey White, David Akers and DeSean Jackson, who is a lock to return for the team next season?  For now, I'll discuss punters (Part 1), seeing as that is possibly the most inconsistent position on special teams in the past five plus years.

Current punter on roster: Sav Rocca - RFA

Stats: 76 punts, 42.1 yards per punt, 26 inside the 20, 3 touchbacks, 3202 total yards punted, 38.3 net yards per punt.  Rankings: 24th in y/p, 14th in net y/p, 11th in <20

Rating for 2009: C-, and I'm being nice.  In short, Sav has a monster leg, but it only shows up a couple times a season.  He's inconsistent, he's inaccurate and he just hasn't turned into a true NFL punter.  Is he better than Dirk Johnson (currently punting for the Buccaneers)?  I think so, but honestly, is that saying much?  His stats hide the truth: he's not good, he's just about average.  He has really benefited from a pretty good return team (which has been hampered by his sometimes wild punts) and because of that, coupled with his ability to launch the ball 50+ yards out of nowhere, his stats are kind of 'nice' looking.  Again, it just hides the truth that he is truly someone who is lacking at a position that is needed to give the defense help against the opposing offense.

Options at Punter (Free Agents): 

If Sav isn't the answer, then who is?

That is a hard question to answer.  We clearly aren't going to find a Mat McBriar (Cowboys) or Shane Lechler (Raiders) out of nowhere, those kinds of punters aren't let go just any day.  I feel that all we need is a solid punter, someone who is just consistent, doesn't need to bomb every single punt.  So who fulfills that opinion?  Here's a rundown of the options, in (almost) alphabetical order, with their 2009 teams in parentheses: 

Option #1: Mitch Berger (Broncos)

Why?: He’s not Sav Rocca, but…

Why not?: …he’s a below average punter who has received as much criticism in Denver as Sav has here, if not more.  In fact, Berger was thought to be on the way out right after the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs, but that has not happened yet.  Instead, the Broncos have signed undrafted rookie free agent A.J. Trapasso, seemingly to take Berger’s job.

My goodness, was Mitch Berger terrible Sunday [versus the Eagles].  There aren't words to adequately describe it.  The punter position has to be a high priority in the offseason.

-Ted Bartlett, Mile High Report

2009 rating: D, Broncos fans on the Mile High Report rated him as below average, earning him this grade


Option #2: Jeff Feagles (Giants) --> See analysis by sbnation Giants fans at that link

Why?: Hi old friend.  The current 'old faithful' of the NFL, you know what you'll get out of him.  He's consistent (though not last year) and that's what counts for him.

Why not?: 2009 was not a great season for Feagles.  His stats were among the lowest amongst punters, solely because he just can't punt long anymore.  He will give you about 40 yards and that's that for the man. He will also be 44 next season.

2009 rating: D+, he had possibly his worst season ever in his 22 year career.

Option #3: Chris Hanson (Patriots)

Why?:  The name.

Why not?: His stats were worse than Rocca's and his season so unmemorable that there is not a single article mentioning him on Pats Pulpit.

2009 rating: D, because he's below average and just that, nothing more.

Option #4: Sam Koch (Ravens)*

Why?: He averaged more yards per punt than Rocca (43.7-42.1), tied him in <20 punts (26-26), was slightly worse in touchbacks (5 to 3) and was slightly worse in net yards per punt (37.9-38.3).  Could that last stat be improved by a switch to the Eagles?  Maybe.  He is considered an above average punter in the league and was pretty consistent throughout the season

Why not?: His stats are not any better than Rocca's stats.  And he may not be a UFA if a new CBA is not reached.

2009 rating: C for consistency.

Option #5: Michael Koenen (Falcons)*

Why?: I think the following quote sums up Koenen.

 Because he's such a valuable weapon, I'm really hoping Koenen is ready to go Sunday.

-Dave the Falconer, The Falcoholic

Why not?: He's not a booming kicker, only 42.6 yards per punt and his net yards per punt were affected by that (36.3), but again the quote above

2009 rating: B+, a weapon when compared against Rocca, consistent and valuable to his team.

Option #6: Daniel Sepulveda (Steelers)


Daniel Sepulveda meanwhile had one of his best game as a Steeler. He had 5 punts and averaged just 44.2 yards per punt - not an astronomical number by any means. But all of his kicks after his first awkward attempt that actually took an amazing bounce for him were clean, high hang-time kicks that limited Eddie Royal's impact in the return game. Sepulveda also made a really nice play when he pushed Royal out of bounds on one of his returns. If you get a chance to re-watch the game, keep an eye out for that play and take a look at the really impressive closing speed he displayed on that tackle. Not that it matters - he's paid to punt - but it was still good to see.

-Blitzburgh, Behind the Steel Curtain

Why not?:

It's worth nothing though that Daniel Sepulveda totally whiffed on his effort to pin KC deep. Once more, special teams rears its ugly head at the wrong time. 

-Blitzburgh, Behind the Steel Curtain


* Not to sound overly negative, but I haven't been that impressed by Daniel Sepulveda. He's been fine and a decided upgrade over what the team was getting from the punting game last year in his absence. But he's no Mike Scifres or Shane Lechler. I've still yet to see him really boom or place a punt that made me say 'wow'.

-Blitzburgh, Behind the Steel Curtain


2009 rating: C, better than Rocca but just average.

Option #7: Hunter Smith (Redskins)


*Note* The following quote is taken from an article concerning the Redskins All Decade team

Note: We did not do a vote on the Punter. Sometimes when you know, you know. Hunter Smith is more than just a punter. He was our Offensive MVP for a while this season, and what other punter has so much swagger that a coach sends him out to execute a fake field goal AFTER the other team calls a time-out to prepare for it? Don't answer that. Having Hunter Smith on this roster makes me feel a lot better about the vote we are about to undertake.

-Sugar, Hogs Haven

Well, I think I nailed this one. Not only has he been a decent punter for us, he has chipped in on offense, accounting for two touchdowns this season. We might have lost the opener against the Giants, but when Hunter scored his touchdown, we were very much alive. And when he threw the touchdown pass to Mike Sellers against the Broncos a few weeks ago, it was the turning point in the game. Yes, I think his performance this season has been very much worthy of a spot on this list. Coincidentally, when he was out, we did not score any touchdowns from the punter position.

-Sugar, Hogs Haven

His net average ranks in the middle of the pack, but he's an accurate kicker inside the 20, and of course, his 2 TDs equal Moss, Cooley, Yoder, and Betts' TDs for the year.

-KevinE, Hogs Haven

Why not?: He's average in anything dealing with distance.

2009 rating: B, he actually produced beyond his job description and contributed to wins, but his punting was about average.

Option #8: Matt Turk (Texans)

Why?: He's got decent consistency.

Why not?: So do other punters out there.  He's really nothing special and Texans fans on Battle Red Blog are somewhat 50/50 on him returning next season.

2009 rating: C, truly the average Joe.

Option #9:  Sav Rocca (Eagles) – RFA

See beginning of article for the all you need to know about Sav.

* = UFA under current CBA, RFA if a new CBA is not reached by March

Then where does that leave us?

My choices, ranked:

1. Michael Koenen

2. Hunter Smith

3. Daniel Sepulveda

Koenen is our best bet at punter.  He's very consistent, puts in above average efforts and just plain gets the job done.  However, Hunter Smith is the most intriguing choice, seeing as he is more than a punter.  Sepulveda is the next best punter, but he is a RFA.  I would not touch Berger or Rocca.  I'm done with Rocca and Berger may be worse.


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