Now that everyone has had time to simmer after GM Gene Smith decided to take a punter in the third round, we will provide a rational explanation as to why the Jaguars needed a punter. Let's get this out of the way: I DO NOT condone taking a punter in the third round, even if he is the second coming of Ray Guy. However, I do not place so much criticism towards Gene Smith that it overshadows the fact that he drafted an offensive weapon in Justin Blackmon and a great pass rusher in Andre Branch. In other words, Deal with it.
1. The Jaguars Were 31st in punting average
The Jaguars couldn't flip the field last season with Matt Turk and Nick Harris taking punts. The Jacksonville Jaguars punted the ball 99 times in 2011. To punt the ball so many times and give opposing offenses short fields, puts an understandable strain on a defense. He had 90 career punts downed inside of the 20. Combine that with a Pro-Bowler like Montell Owens and you could have teams like the Green Bay Packers constantly looking at a long field.
2. The lack of proficient punting cost us games
Matt "Shankapotamus" Turk cost the Jaguars a couple of games this year, most notably against the Carolina Panthers and the Cincinnati Bengals. Against the Panthers, Turk dropped a punt and gave the Panthers great field position, which led to their scoring drive. Then, in the Bengals game, the Jaguars were leading by a touchdown and the Jaguars, desperate to run down the clock, were pinned deep. Turk infamously belted a 22-yard punt that had the Bengals starting in Jaguars territory, where they mounted a winning drive.
3. Pinning the other team deep actually does make this team better
This is my final and most persuasive reason. This is a better team because of the punter. I know, it is pretty impossible to justify taking a punter inthe third round, however, great punting makes this team more effective as a whole, especially on defense. When a team is inside of the 5 yard line, they often try to run the ball on first down in order to create "breathing room" for their offense. That plays right into the hands of the the Jaguars defense, which features the massive Terrance Knighton and the disruptive Tyson Alualu in the middle of the line. So, with the opponent likely facing second and long, they will likely try to work the short routes, which can often be stifled by man coverage. All of a sudden, it's third down and the opponent is one misstep away from punting out of their own endzone (Which likely gives the Jaguars offense a great starting position).Tags: Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Football, Gene Smith, Jacksonville, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jaguars, Montell Owens, NFL, Terrance Knighton, Tyson Alualu