Welcome to the Spotlight. Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is punter Lachlan Edwards. It’s not often we put a special teams player in the spotlight, but with the Jets unable to score more than 20 points in regulation time all year, and the Dolphins having the worst offense in the NFL coming into this game, the punter seems as good a choice as any to be a difference maker today.
Lachlan Edwards is a 25 year old, 6' 4", 210 pound second year punter out of Sam Houston State University. He was originally drafted by the New York Jets with the 235th selection in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL draft. Lachlan Edwards was born and raised in Hastings, Victoria, Australia. In his youth Edwards played Australian rules football for the North Ballarat Football Club of the Victorian Football League. Edwards spent three years with North Ballarat pursuing a goal of being drafted into the Australian Football League, but was ultimately unsuccessful.
Edwards told reporters after he was drafted by the Jets he had never punted a football before December 2012. He was kicking a ball around at a local park with some friends when his life changed forever.
"One of my professors from Ballarat University – the university I attended at the time – drove by and saw me punt," Edwards said. "He stopped, parked his car and asked if I played. He put me in touch with a kicking coach in Australia, and it just took off from there."
Edwards would then travel across the Pacific and attend Sam Houston State for three years and graduate as an All-America third team punter. At Sam Houston State Edwards never had a punt blocked in 185 career punts.
In the 2016 offseason the Jets cut ties with former punter Ryan Quigley, leaving the roster without a punter. If unrectified, that situation might have resulted in a lot of fumbles when the long snapper snapped the ball to an empty backfield, so the need for a new punter was somewhat urgent. The Jets drafted Lachlan Edwards in the 7th round of the 2016 NFL draft and signed another Australian punter, Tom Hackett, as an undrafted free agent. Edwards won the battle of the Aussies with his booming punts and became the Jets' new punter. Fumble crisis averted.
Edwards’ first season in the NFL was disappointing, as he ended up with a 40.8 punting average, finishing near the bottom of the NFL, where Jets punters have finished for much of the last decade. His sophomore season in 2017 has started much better. Edwards is currently ranked 8th among NFL punters with a 47.2 average, and has done a nice job flipping the field on more than one occasion.
This game shapes up as a potential defensive struggle, with field position being crucial and special teams possibly being a deciding factor. Of course, given that analysis, the unpredictable world of the NFL will probably deliver a 38-35 shootout.
If, however, a low scoring defensive struggle does materialize, Lachlan Edwards will likely be front and center in a glorious punt-a-palooza. Over the years the Jets have struggled to find a punter whose big leg could consistently pin opponents deep in their own territory. Edwards' booming Australian leg is beginning to fit the bill.
Punters are rarely in the spotlight. It's just not a glamorous position, and by its nature the position rarely is seen as being decisive in a victory. Nonetheless, this game could prove to be an exception. If we end up with a defensive struggle, Edwards' big leg just might provide the consistent advantage in field position necessary to squeak out a win.
Lachlan Edwards, this is your time in the spotlight. May you shine in the heat and humidity of Miami.