Punters do not get much love from fans. Generally, they are seen as the players that you do not want to see on the field, but truth be told, sometimes punting is a good thing. Not every drive will end in points, especially for this Atlanta Falcons' offense, so pinning your opponent deep in their territory can be valuable.
The Falcons have seen that firsthand. They have been pinned plenty of times in their own territory, but they have also seen their Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee return the favor. Bradley Pinion should be getting more credit for how great he has been for this offensively challenged team.
Bradley Pinion has been clutch for the Atlanta Falcons
We know how tough it has been for the Atlanta Falcons to score points this year. This has been a team that has been led by a great defense and great special teams (minus punt returning).
One of the most valuable players the Falcons have right now is Bradley Pinion, their punter.
The truth is, the Falcons are not the Miami Dolphins. The Falcons are a team that needs a punter who can consistently boot the ball where it needs to go because of their lackluster offense, and fortunately, they have one of the best in the NFL.
Yards per punt is perhaps one of the most overrated stats in the NFL because pinning your opponent inside their own 15-yard line will often hurt your stats. Looking at 'punts inside the 20' and 'touchbacks' are more telling.
Bradley Pinion has 20 punts inside the 20 and just two touchbacks. That is phenomenal.
Bradley Pinion saved the Atlanta Falcons in New York
The stats from the defensive party in New York show that Atlanta Falcons' punter Bradley Pinion had nine punts for 433 yards (48.1 average), four punts inside the 20, and zero touchbacks. That is pretty darn good.
But there was one play that doesn't show up on the stat sheet that should be pointed out. The Jets were down by five with 13 minutes remaining in the game. They were trying everything they could to make a play on special teams.
The Jets lined up in a normal punt return formation but right before the snap, they collapsed one of their jammers down to try and get a free runner to block the punt. Bradley Pinion saw this and realized that there was going to be a free runner, so he sped himself up and got the punt off before the jammer could get to him.
That small, on-the-fly adjustment Pinion made could have saved the game. Even if the Jets hadn't returned it for a touchdown, their offense would have had the ball around the Falcons' 30-yard line.
It is also funny because I was watching the Colts-Titans game in the background and moments before Pinion punted, the Colts blocked a punt on a play almost identical to what the Jets did. As I saw the Jets' player collapsing down I was just thinking "Oh no, oh no, oh no!" But Pinion, thankfully, made a heads-up play.
The Falcons' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee deserves a lot more credit for what he does off the field and on the field. With how this Falcons team has been performing, Pinion's impact is unmeasurable.