Good morning Bills Nation,
This is the third rendition of Morning Joe, and to my surprise and delight it's been quite successful. We've had some great conversations and insightful ideas. I look forward to seeing more well thought out arguments and discussions; so relax; kick your feet up and enjoy your Morning Joe!
In today's addition of Morning Joe, I will be discussing the "perceived need" to have both a Kicker and Punter on an NFL roster. After watching last nights game; no one can argue that a reliable Kicker is a great asset to have in today's NFL game. We've seen great kickers literally win Super Bowls for teams (Adam Vinateri) and we've seen kickers lose Super Bowls (He" Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned"). So the problem that I have is with the Punter position. Very rarely does a punter have the same impact on the outcome of the game. Now before the football purest attack this point, by telling me the importance of field position and long drives by the opposing offense, take the time to read some of my points after the jump. I will love to hear your argument on the matter then.
After training camp and NFL roster is only limited to 53 Players and on game day is limited to 46. That typically leaves you with a combination of 43 offensive and defensive players; with three specialist (Kicker, Punter, and Long Snapper). These are three positions that are going be set for all NFL teams going in to game day. Now for the life of me, I can't understand why NFL teams continue to waist valuable roster spots and money with players that are just limited to one thing and for the most part they can't even do that one thing exceptionally well.
Okay, so let me give you some facts. According to this Sports Illustrated article Chris Kluwe is the highest paid punter at about $5mil a year, this passed season he had a Net Avg of 38 yards per game and of his 77 punts he only had 22 punts that was downed inside the 20 (28%). This ranks him 19th in the league in punts downed inside the 20 and 26th in the league in Net Avg. Keep in mind he played 10 games in a Dome this year, and played the first game of the season in San Diego. Now you can make an argument for Chris Kluwe and say "well his team never moved the ball, so thats why he didn't have more kicks downed inside the 20" or you can say "the Vikings coverage team was bad all year and that's why is average was low". Now if you make these arguments, you pretty much proved my point. Why use a roster spot or spend money, on a player who's total success depends solely on the efforts of other players? What good is having a "specialist", who is not really all that special? Why cut a guy like Joique Bell or Robert Eddins for a punter?
I hate to attack Chris Kluwe because I'm sure he's a great guy, but lets look at this a little more closely. Kluwe averages about 4.8 punts a game. What if I told you he got paid $65,000 per punt ($5 mil / 77punts) and of the punts you really care about (punts inside the 20); he got paid $227,000 per punt ($5 mil / 22punts), which is about 1.3 a game. Now based on some of the discussions on this site; Bills fans are usually credited with being knowledgable fans. So would you pay $227,000 for one kick inside the 20 for each game of the season? Quite honestly, for that much money I need at least 80% of his kicks inside the 20, not 28%.
Now if you read any of the Morning Joe's; I'm not the one to complain and not provide you with a valid alternative.
Alternative: Let the Kicker punt. It's as simple as that. There is no reason why your Kicker shouldn't be able to both punt and kick. Yes, I understand its a different skill set but it's a skill set that can be taught and learned over a period of time. If your kicker can put the ball an average of 40-45 yards, he's good enough to punt in this league. That would put him amongst the average kickers in the league. At 4.85 mil a season, Raiders Kicker Sebastian Janikowski needs to be punting PERIOD.
With more and more players getting hurt and going on IR, teams need to start taking a closer look at this. It will be great chance to retain some of those training camp "diamonds". So am I alone on this one? I'll love to get your thoughts. Have at it.