Punters are much like relief pitchers in baseball – staying out of the news is good news.
The only time fans recognize them, for the most part, is for the wrong reasons. But Dallas Cowboys punter Chris Jones had one of the most impressive games of anybody in the season-opening 19-3 victory over the New York Giants last Sunday.
Jones averaged just 34.8 yards a punt, but his pooch punts were so on target that the Giants had to start possessions on their own 6-, 9-, 10- and 10-yard lines.
Giants Pro Bowl returner Dwayne Harris returned only one of Jones’ kicks for a measly 1 yard.
Winning the field position battle helped the Cowboys’ defense keep the Giants off the board.
“It was a good game,” Jones said. “Obviously whenever you force your opponent to drive from the 10 or in all night, you’ve succeeded in your job. I don’t think I ever been in a game where we were in the fringe red zone so many times.”
Jones hopes to put the Broncos in similar positions this week in Denver. Jones has never kicked at altitude, but will judge how the air affects his punts in pregame work.
Jones, 28, has perfected his pooch punt, or as he calls it a “flip-flop kick,” over the years. Jones punts the ball from the “nose up,” which makes it rotate more along the lines of a kickoff and betters the odds of it bouncing backwards or sideways.
“That’s something I’ve really worked on since I’ve been here,” Jones said. “Doing those flip-flop kicks is usually how I start my day, getting loose.”
Jones has perfected it to the point where he doesn’t have to try and take something off his kick. He knows the angle to drop it, which allows him to kick it as hard as he wants with it only getting a certain amount of distance.
“Now it’s just instincts, and your body takes over because you know what it’s supposed to feel like,” Jones said.