VIII: He gave Special Teams a kick in the pants
The tarnish on the special teams performance in 2023 has dulled the luster and shine of rookie punter Ethan Evans. But let me tell you, this guy is absolutely a unicorn. He was outstanding, and the coaching staff simply needs to figure out a strategy to build up a coverage team that can take full advantage of this guys 155-mm artillery gun of a kicking leg.
In the raw punting for 2023, Ethan Evans finished the 2023 season with a gross punting average of 49.3 yards per punt. That was good enough for 10-best in the league, and happened in his first year in the league. All in all, Evans was a solid addition to a rather shaky special teams group.,
But there could be more bright lights in the immediate future for Ethan Evans. He also handled kickoff duties as well. That is not something that typically happens in the NFL, and for good reason. Punting the football is a different kicking technique than kicking a football off a tee. Imagine the differences involved in swinging a baseball bat versus swinging a tennis racket. Both instruments employ the swinging motion of the arm, amplified by the power inherent in either the bat or tennis racket.
But a baseball swing is designed to power a baseball over the outfield fence. A tennis racket is designed to allow greater accuracy with a tennis ball, and allows the player to apply ball 'english,' which is the term used to identify the spin of the ball when it leaves the racket.
Kicking off the tee involves kicking the ball straight with power. Punting the football involves a higher arc, more hang time, and more accuracy at kicking the football out of bounds as close to the end zone as possible. Punting hang time and accuracy improves over time. That is why Ethan Evans could be on track for a far more impressive 2024. Do you think he can deliver?