By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Patriots rookie punter Jake Bailey has played only 10 NFL games, but he’s already won two AFC Special Teams Player of the Week awards. The team announced Wednesday that he earned the distinction for the second time this season on the heels of an absolute monster game against the Eagles on Sunday.
Bailey punted eight times in the Pats’ 17-10 win for an average of 47.6 yards. Without the lone blemish of a 27-yard boot in the third quarter, the rest of Bailey’s punts averaged 50.6 yards.
The rookie pinned the Eagles down inside their own 10-yard line four times, then the defense did the rest. After Philly completed a 95-yard touchdown drive in the first quarter, they netted just 108 yards for the rest of regulation.
Bailey previously won AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after a big-time performance against the Jets in Week 3. He also pinned the Jets inside their own 10 four times in that game, including an eye-popping play between him and Matthew Slater. He’s now the only AFC punter to win the award twice this season, and the second in the NFL (the Saints’ Thomas Morstead has won it twice).
The Patriots have played the field position game as well as any team in the NFL this season, and Bailey has been a major contributor to that. If you’re consistently forcing teams to drive 90-plus yards against an excellent defense, you’ll give yourself a chance to win every game. Bailey has been the closest thing to a highlight-reel punter that you can get.
Needless to say, the Jake Bailey era is off to a roaring start and if Bill Belichick drafted him with dominating special teams battles in mind, it’s certainly worked to magical effect so far. The kid is simply a beast and this is probably far from the last time he’ll earn this award.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.