Eddy Piñeiro had a 100% field goal success rate when kicking for the Jets last season, but that wasn’t enough to stop Joe Douglas from bringing in competition for the 26-year-old (now 27). Greg Zuerlein came in and won the kicking duel, although he got off to a shaky start Sunday missing a 45-yard field goal and an extra point.
I was sure the Jets would bring in some competition for punter Braden Mann, but Douglas decided early that Mann was his starting punter going into the 2022 season. After all, he was a 6th-round pick out of Texas A&M back in 2020 and a former Ray Guy award winner. I was a little surprised by that decision as my perception of Mann wasn’t overly positive based on his 2021 performance, but I’d never really looked into it.
By now you’ll all know that Mann started on the wrong foot on Sunday, his shanked 20-yard punt led to the Ravens taking over in Jets territory and putting 7 points on the board. According to Puntalytics, Mann was the 2nd worst punter in football in week one and his hangtime of 4.04 seconds was the shortest hangtime in football. Poor hangtime puts extra pressure on your coverage unit, not something you want to be doing every single week.
Anyone can have a bad week, but how did he perform last year, and should the Jets have brought in competition over the off-season, that’s what I wanted to focus on today. Earlier this week the Jets signed former Chargers punter Ty Long to the practice squad, So while we’re looking at Mann’s 2021 form, we’re also going to take a look at Ty Long’s.
Analyzing punter statistics is a bit of a dark art. For example, a lot of people use punts downed inside the 20 as a key statistic which makes sense, the goal of the punter is to push the opposition as far back as possible. The issue with that statistic is it’s completely based on where your punting from, if a punter on average kicks from his own 45... you’d expect to see a higher inside 20 number as opposed to someone who’s punting from the 15.
Looking at the comparison between our current punter and our potential punter side by side in 2021, it’s quite clear that Mann had a superior season (although Thomas Morestead who we had while Mann was injured was better than both). I don’t really care for overall punting yards but Mann had a better net, downed more punts inside the 20, a significantly lower return rate, and a better hangtime as well.
If you take a look back at 2020, it shows that 2021 was no aberration. Mann again was consistently better across the board on all the key statistics.
This isn’t to say that Mann is perfect or that the Jets shouldn’t be working to upgrade him. His Yards per average only ranked him 19th in the NFL last season, his net yardage just 15th, his return rate 14th, etc. He’s not to the point where you should sit and be happy with his production, but sometimes we as fans need to be careful what we wish for when calling for a change for the sake of a change.