While everyone in Dallas with a television set seems to know that Mat McBriar is great punter (an All-Pro in 2006), there is usually little in the way of statistical backing for this sort of thing. How delightful, then, that Gerry Fraley, at the Dallas Morning News produced this little write-up today, chronicling the effect of McBriar's presence in 2009.
McBriar, of course, was lost for the season in 2008 with a broken foot suffered during the woeful loss to the eventual conference champion Arizona Cardinals.
Of five punts on Sunday, against the Eagles and card-carrying, big-play-returner DeSean Jackson, the Eagles were able to return just one. According to Fraley, of McBriar's last 27 offerings, 17 have resulted in the opposing team beginning their drive within the 20 yard line.
In week one, McBriar effectively neutralized Tampa Bay's Clifton Smith, another of the most dangerous return men in the league.
The early success of the punt team, as well as special teams as a whole, points to the effect of new special teams coach Joe DeCamillis, who believes in directional punting and hang time, a departure, somewhat, from the blast-off-with-veritable-abandon approach employed under Bruce Read.
McBriar was (obviously) good at the latter, and seems to be catching onto the former nicely.
Along with David Buehler and Nick Folk, Dallas's kicking game, though rarely lauded for its contributions, has made a palpable, even noticeable difference thus far in 2009. And for a facet of the game so widely, generally looked over, this is no small accomplishment.