Adam Podlesh engaged with a trolling Bears fan who called him out on Twitter for his net punting average. Because I am weird, that got me thinking about punters, and just how bad of a situation it is to punt in Chicago. No, I’m not referring to the fans, I’m talking about the wind conditions, the cold, and the weather extremes.
So, here’s what I did. Using the amazing game play finder now available at pro-football-reference.com, I went through the last five years (2007-2011), and found the road punter’s gross average for each of the 32 teams. Why the road punter? Well, it gives us a more diverse group of punters, and doesn’t skew the results when half of Oakland’s punts are coming from Shane Lechler. There is still the potential for some stadiums having different quality punters, but it is muted.
I then looked for all punts that occurred from the team’s own 40 yard line or further back, so we are looking at full field punts and not getting the effect of touchbacks and shortened opportunities. The results are mostly intuitive, though there a few surprises, starting with which stadium has the highest gross average on punts.
Chicago is dead last, so there’s your excuse, Adam Podlesh. They are dead last by so much that the difference between Chicago and 31st ranked Philadelphia is as much as the difference between Philadelphia and Buffalo (ranked 21st). The bottom eight teams are all outdoor teams from the Northeast or Upper Midwest.
The Dome teams are all bunched up, and above average, which makes sense. Only New Orleans is below average for road punters among domed stadiums.
The shock is that Kansas City is at the very top. I mean, I would have pegged Arrowhead for near the bottom, considering the temperature extremes, that is a Midwest outdoor city like Chicago. Part of that ranking, but only a part of it, is explained by the fact they have two very good punters in their division. Shane Lechler of Oakland and Mike Scifres of San Diego account for 31 of the 109 punts in Kansas City from 2007 to 2011. Even removing those two, the average of all other road punters in KC is 47.9, though.
The other top stadiums for gross punting average are Miami (heat, humidity), Denver (altitude), St. Louis (dome), Dallas (humid in early months), Houston and Arizona (humid, roof that closes), Minnesota, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Detroit (domes).
The other interesting thing? The returns are included as well. The correlation coefficient between gross punting distance by stadium, and average return? -0.03. That’s basically zero, so the returns don’t seem to be impacted by where they are occurring, but more related to the quality of the return men for the home team.
Chicago ranks first there, but last in how punters not named Adam Podlesh have performed over the previous five years.
[photo via US Presswire]