Jacob Schum re-signed with the Packers, not that he had a choice since he was an exclusive rights free agent… which makes him not really a free agent at all (unions!). I wonder if anti-Ted fans consider this a free agent.
I thought ol’ Schummy was good, but not great, last year. He had some nice moments and seemed to come on stronger as the year went on, kicking better in the cold than I thought he would. On the season, he averaged 43.2 yards per punt, good enough for 27th in the league. It’s hard to judge a punter by how he kicks in Green Bay, though – the NFL’s top eight punters in gross average were five domes plus Oakland, LA, and Jacksonville. His net of 39.1 was only good for 24th in the league (but he was just one yard away from 17th – that’s how thin the margins are in the middle of the pack). Still, though, when you kick in Green Bay, it’s hard to compare net and gross to guys punting in domes.
Neither of those numbers are great, but dig a little deeper and look at how close his net is to his gross. He kept 90.51% of his punt yardage (and in 2016, Janis was not the stud gunner he was in 2015) – that was good for 6th in the league! He was also 6th in the league with return yards per punt at 2.69 (a stat I’m sure David Bakhtiari approves of… if you don’t get that, follow him on Twitter). Hang time can be a bit overrated, but here’s a hard number that can’t be messed with: of his 56 punts on the year, only 16 were returned! That’s just under 28.6%, which, by the way, was the lowest in the league.
That’s called a low-risk option. Take the advanced analytics out of and stop trying to compare dome punting to Green Bay – the end result is that most of his punt weren’t returned and when they were, the returner didn’t get very far. Isn’t that what you want in a punter?
Oh, then he went ahead and dialed it up in the playoffs. In a cold wild card game against the Giants, he had a gross average of 42 yards with a net of 41.3. Consistent. Half of his six punts were inside the 20 and his long was 58. Then, when he went to Dallas and Atlanta to punt in better conditions, he had gross averages of 57.4 and 54 yards with net averages of 45.3 and 47.0. For comparison, the number one spots in the regular season were 49.3 gross and 46 net. So, he was basically the best punter in the league during the playoffs.
His punting average was better than his opponent in all three playoff games and he popped a 66-yarder on Dallas, his best of the year. He took his game up a notch when it mattered.
So we didn’t just sign him because of this epic gif (which, when I watch, aside from laughing, I also wonder if Mike Sherman would have been even more excited than Vince McMahon) – he was actually a much more consistent punter than I realized and blew the stacks off it in the playoffs.
Given the way Ted Thompson handles punters, though, I wouldn’t be surprised if he cut Schum the night before the first game, signed a guy from Canada, cut him two hours later, and then brought back Don Bracken.
We’ll just have to hold our breathe, I guess.
In the meantime, let’s appreciate what we have in Jacob Schum.