Film Room: Jordan Berry Better, But Still In Need Of Improvement

I’m not sure if I’ve devoted a single film session yet for Jordan Berry this season, so I figured I should probably do that now. Against the New England Patriots, the third-year punter had another solid game, and he has generally improved since the bye week or thereabouts.

I’m not entirely sure exactly what the Patriots were attempting to goad the Steelers into on this first punt of the game, with Brian Allen as the left gunner being virtually uncovered, but Berry was able to perfectly place a directional kick out of bounds. While not bad at 42 yards to the Patriots’ 23, getting a deeper kick here would be ideal, but directional kicking complicates things.

After that punt on the first drive, the Steelers didn’t have to punt again until the second half. In the middle of the third quarter, from the Patriots’ 42, just outside of field goal range, Berry booted the ball 31 yards where it was fair caught by Danny Amendola at the 11. Both gunners were all over the play, even with the short punt.

Later, midway through the fourth quarter, the Steelers stalled at their own 34. This was the punter’s worst of the night, only getting off a 48-yard punt to New England’s 28. It’s likely that they practiced caution here with the Patriots setting up vice jammers on both gunners, thus not wanting to outkick what the coverage can handle, yet nevertheless, you want more.

Allen and Mike Hilton were the gunners here, it’s worth noting, with Darrius Heyward-Bey being needed on offense after the Antonio Brown injury.

Berry’s last punt of the day was, if not his best, then certainly his longest. This time the offense was stymied at its own 28, so distance was important here. He got off a 60-yard punt, but while the coverage did not get down in time to negate a return, they did make the stop after 11 yards for a 49-yard net. Allen at left gunner got taken down late on what I thought should have been a penalty.

At the end of the day, Berry’s numbers are still rather below average, however. His 43.4-yard gross average ranks as tied for the second-worst in the league, while his net average, though better, is still 26th. Of course the pure numbers don’t tell the context, and perhaps he is a bit better than those numbers, but it would be fair to say that he can be better.

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