- 56 yards (JAX 38); 14 yard return (GB 48)
- 48 yards (JAX 21); Fair Catch
- 46 yards (JAX 47); Out of Bounds
- 34 yards (JAX 47); Out of Bounds
Here we have the new guy!
After Masthay looked to have won his competition over Peter Mortell in the summer, this looked to be another year of watching him mostly play above our low expectations (he did set a Packers’ record for net punting average last season with 40.2) but with just enough head-scratching inconsistency to undo much of his positive contributions.
Then the unfathomable occurred: he was cut not long after Mortell, leaving the roster bare of anyone to man the position for a short time. After a quick workout, the team brought in Jacob Schum (formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and here we are today.
Schum didn’t get much work in his only season with Tampa Bay; the Bucs were at the bottom of the board in the majority of punting metrics, with their best area probably being that they tied for 22nd with forcing 15 fair catches (though they did so in a league-low 56 attempts).
Suffice to say, the Packers must have seen something here that doesn’t show up in his current professional production (or maybe they just put themselves in an impossible situation — much like they did in 2013, when they cut all their backup QBs before picking up Seneca Wallace on the fly — and just needed to get pick up somebody as quickly as possible.
That’s risky business (remember how that Wallace move played out; had it not been for the lucky break of Matt Flynn being available late, the team almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to hold out long enough for Rodgers to return and get them into the playoffs), but if you are gonna do that with any position, it should be one with a relatively low variance like punter (few are great, few are terrible; most are usually anonymous).
One week in, Schum provided a mixed bag. For his first punts, he booted the ball pretty well, gaining at least 46 yards on each of them. Jacksonville ended up with good field position on two of them, but that was more a product of where he had to kick from; Green Bay kept getting put into abysmal field position during this game (the two punts the defense forced ended up getting the offense pinned at their own 3 yard line), and that didn’t give Schum much space to do more than just boot the ball and hope it isn’t returned.
Schum’s big mistake came right near the end of the game, and it set the defense off in a difficult situation to begin the final drive.
After doing well to that point, Schum sent the ball out of bounds after only 34 yards; had it not been for a 10-yard penalty, this would have been even worse.
That kind of play is exactly the reason Masthay was moved on from, so it is disheartening to see his replacement immediately make that kind of mistake only one game into his tenure.
One bad play isn’t reason to bring out the pitchforks, but it does give us something to worry about. Schum will have to do better over the next few weeks to alleviate our concerns — and perhaps more importantly, we should allow him the time to settle into his role before we start clamoring for another change.
Next: The return game