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Colton Schmidt struggling in 2016

The third-year punter was one of the NFL’s best last year, but has been far from it through three games this season.

There have been several Bills that have struggled so far in 2016, but one that has flown somewhat under the radar (as players at his position tend to do) is punter Colton Schmidt.

As WGR’s Sal Capaccio noted, Schmidt had a pretty bad game against the Cardinals. He did have one good punt that bounced at the one-yard line before being downed at Arizona’s 4, but that was about it as far as effective punts go. His day included a punt from the Bills’ 35 that went just 25 yards and an ugly one from the Bills’ 20 that didn’t even cross the 50 before going out of bounds.

Schmidt’s 35.6 average on the day was the fourth-worst performance in his two-plus years with the Bills. To make matters worse, his performance against the Jets the week before (39.3 average on 3 punts) was the seventh-worst of his 35 NFL games.

So far this season, Schmidt has a gross average of 40.6 yards per punt (27th in the NFL) and a net average of 38.4 yards (24th). After finishing in the top ten in the NFL in both categories last season, the step back is a little disconcerting.

Punter stats are a little harder to gauge than most, because the relatively small sample size can easily be skewed by the situation. A 33-yard punt counts the same either way, but it’s a lot better from the opponent’s 45 than your own 20. That said, Schmidt’s punts haven’t looked great over the last couple weeks. The field position battle is an important one in the NFL, and some improvement on his end would go a long way towards giving the Bills shorter fields to work with on offense and longer ones on defense.