I saw a commenter complain that we had two consecutive (!) articles about punters. So, by popular demand, enjoy a third.
AJ Cole’s performance in the Raiders’ preseason opener won him the Raiders punting job over incumbent Johnny Townsend. How good of a game was it? Let’s see how his numbers in the game stack up with those of the punters in 2018.
Cole averaged 43.0 yards per punt. While that punt average would have been just below the numbers the man he just beat out for the punting job put up last season (43.2), that was also Cole’s NET average because there were no returns. As a NET average, that would have been tied for the second best in the NFL with 4-time All Pro Johnny Hekker.
Two of Cole’s punts were stopped inside the 20. One was fair caught and the other was a brilliant pooch punt that stuck in the turf at the 8-yard-line and bounce back to the 10-yard-line. Averaged over a full season, that would be 32 punts stopped inside the 20. That would be tied for the sixth most in the league with 9-year veteran Britton Colquitt, four-time Pro Bowler Andy Lee, and 6-year veteran Sam Martin.
Two of Cole’s punts were fair caught and two were downed. Again, that would good for 32 of each over a 16-game season. Both would easily lead the league by a wide margin. 49ers punter Bradley Pinion led the NFL last season with 28 fair catches and Washington punter Tress Wray led the league with 19 downed punts.
Yeah, it’s a small sample size. Yeah, it’s a meaningless game. Let’s see if he can keep it going Thursday against the Cardinals.