I was talking with a friend the other day who is a diehard baseball fan. We were discussing players and seasons, and he brought up how impressive it is that Miguel Cabrera has been able to hit somewhere around .330-.340 during his career. For those of you unfamiliar with the sport, .340 is a very good batting average (at least in recent years) and to hit that well for over a decade is quite impressive. My friend went on to suggest he’d take Miggy over Mike Trout when it comes to all-time greats.
I quickly realized that my friend was not an anomaly. Many baseball fans (and players) are blind to the true talent of their heroes because they never take the time to watch them in action. I’ve seen this over and over again when talking to fans of all ages. They have a huge fan-boy crush on their favorite player, but have little clue as to what that player actually brings to the table in terms of talent.
highest paid punter
However, as we now know, Hekker is actually one of the best punters in league history and certainly among the most valuable. This last season he was absolutely dominant (again) and was deserving of first team All-Pro honors. It’s a shame that his excellence is still overlooked by many fans who measure their knowledge of the game by how much they know about their favorite players.
It’s a little different for football fans because we have a statistic which measures a player’s performance much more accurately than batting average does in baseball. We may not all be aware of this statistic or how to properly use it, but at least we have it.
Introduce the topic of punters in football
Your friends and watch their eyes glaze over before the conversation even gets started. How do I know this? Because I watch football fans struggle with our version of batting average all the time .
For whatever reason, punting seems to be one of the most misunderstood aspects about football by armchair quarterbacks everywhere. This is not surprising since there are only a handful of players who actually punt the football, and they’re often obscured by battle-ax looking special team coaches before and after each play.
Discuss how some teams are using analytics to evaluate punters
We have known for years that having a good punter can seriously impact games, but now we might be starting to understand just how much of an affect the position has on the team.
The NFL Network recently did a story about how some teams are beginning to use advanced analytics when evaluating punters. It’s not uncommon for scouts and GMs to look at physical measurables when evaluating prospects, but advanced metrics are now being used as well. This is confirmed by what Dominik Kirkegaard told the NFL Network .
Explain the benefits of using analytics to evaluate punters
The article doesn’t go into any great detail about how teams are going about this, but the benefits seem obvious. If you can properly quantify a punter’s talent then it becomes much easier to spot good prospects and identify potential free agents that other teams might have missed. In other words, it helps put a quantitative value on something pure football fans have known for a long time.
I thought it would be interesting to see how some of the advanced metrics used by NFL teams might be able to help us fans get a better picture of what’s really going on with our favorite players. This is purely subjective on my part and should be taken as such. I’m not a football coach and I don’t pretend to be one, but there are some things I’ve observed over the years that may help us better understand punters and punt coverage.