Punters are people too. And Jordan Berry deserves plenty of credit for his performance.
Over the last two days, Mike Tomlin has been quick to point out the job Berry, having a career season, has done.
“Jordan’s been rock solid for us not only tonight but all year,” Tomlin said at his Tuesday presser. “Significant. Like his maturation and the way he delivers, particularity in gotta have it moments.”
Berry is averaging over 46 yards per punt this season. It puts him 12th best in the NFL and he doesn’t get the benefit of playing in consistently warm weather like some of the leaders (Arizona’s Andy Lee and LA’s Ty Long are top three in football) do. If that number holds, and the odds of that are unlikely once the weather turns ugly, it would be a career high by a wide margin. On Sunday, his first punt was a net of 58 yards.
That attempt wasn’t even his best net of the season, surpassed by a 59 yard occurrence a month ago versus Los Angeles. A struggling offense has provided Berry more chances for “open air” punts, showing off his leg strength while still exhibiting hangtime and accurate placement on directional situations.
Tomlin then referenced his comfort with the punting unit on the Steelers’ final offensive drive, when they ran the ball to no avail and gave the Rams one final chance. Tomlin said he trusted Berry and company to force Los Angeles to have a long field to work with.
“You gotta acknowledge we’ve had really consistent punting and particularly in those gotta have it moments in recent weeks and the defense was having a good night.”
That punt netted only 38 yards but didn’t allow for a return and was well-placed along the left sideline.
The overall net yardage numbers still aren’t pretty. Berry and the punting unit sit at 40.8, 23rd in the league. 42 yard net should the be the team’s overall goal but that’s a reflection of the coverage team too, not solely Berry’s job performance.
We’re no longer discussing junior varsity punts and crossing our fingers whenever he steps on the field, praying he won’t shank one into the 5th row. Berry’s become a consistent, legitimate asset as a punter (and holder, don’t forget). For as many issues as Steelers’ special teams have had, and that well runs deep, they’re about as good as it gets at kicker and punter.