The Detroit Lions most surprising player is also their best
By Robert Jones
The Lions need more play-makers
Anytime your team has one of the best players in the NFL at his position it makes the team better. Yet sometimes the effect isn’t quite the same when the team can’t take advantage of the situation.
In the Lions case, their best player this season has been punter, Jack Fox.
Yeah, usually when the punter is the best player there is a problem. Fox has averaged an outstanding net average of 47.6 yards a punt heading into Minnesota and has also shown nice placement to go with his leg power as he has pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line 10 out of the 27 punts he has attempted so far.
To put those numbers in perspective, Former Oakland Raider punter Ray Guy is considered the NFL’s standard-bearer for the position, and his best season for punt average was back in 1973 when he averaged 45.3 yards a boot. For his career, he averaged 42.4 yards per punt.
Now Fox, the second-year player out of Rice who spent his rookie season last year on Kansas City and Detroit’s practice squad, has only played in seven games so far and anything can happen, but that’s a pretty good start.
Fox has consistently flipped field position and pinned opponents inside their 20-yard line with regularity. Yet very often the defense hasn’t been able to take advantage of what a weapon Fox has been to put opponents in a hole and give the defense an advantage.
That doesn’t take away from how well Fox is playing, but it plays a big part in showing how poorly overall for the season the Lions defense has played. Sure they looked good against Jacksonville and Atlanta, but when you consider how often opponents have been able to score on the Lions and take into account that they don’t have hardly any short field freebees, it emphasizes Detroit’s defensive shortcomings.
So the Lions have one of the best punters in the league and special teams units that back up his leg, whether he’s punting or kicking off, but they need help. An inconsistent offense and a defense that has been bad except for half a season since Matt Patricia arrived are the reason they now sit at 3-4.
The schedule works in Detroit’s favor to actually pick up a few wins and fulfill their mandate to ‘play meaningful games in December’, especially given an already expanded postseason. Yet this franchise doesn’t have enough play-makers to be a legitimate threat.
Jack Fox deserves all the credit he gets and more, but the Lions need more players as talented as Jack Fox littering their roster at all positions before they can be considered legitimate contenders. They may fulfill their mandate, but Jack Fox is their brightest spot this season and unfortunately, when that bright spot is your punter it’s an indictment on the rest of the team.