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On punting

I don't know why I'm stuck on special teams lately. Chalk it up to offseason fatigue I guess, partly. The subject of punting came up yesterday while I was talking to a friend about the Rams upgrades this offseason. Somehow, the conversation segued into last offseason and which addition made the biggest impact.

Oh, as a Rams fan, I offered the usual names, Carriker, Ryan, yada, yada, yada. My friend, a Chiefs fan, said Donnie Jones, the free agent punter the Rams brought in from Miami last spring. Touche. He had me.

The Rams sure did punt a lot last season, or so it seemed with the offense firing on just two cylinders all year. League rank in parentheses.

Avg # of punts Long DVOA
2006 37.8 (9) 75 (22) 74 (2) 0.0
2007 39.3 (4) 78 (11) 80 (2) 3.3

The Rams didn't punt that much more often this season than they did last season, but compared with the league trend though, they punted quite a bit in 2007. As for Jones, you can see his impact in the average yards per punt and the longest punt. Interesting aside, the longest punt in 2006 was just 75 yards. And of course, DVOA for the Rams punting unit, which mostly measures yardage confirms the improvement.

Punting's not the first thing that comes to mind with thinking about the 3 win Rams of 2007. Well, actually, maybe it works as a symbol: fans punted their season tickets and the season, players almost punted, the management punted a lot of the coaches....well, you get it. The improvement on the punting unit doubtlessly saved the Rams even more heartache last season.