As a rookie in 2019, punter Jake Bailey made us forget all about Ryan’s Allen superb performance in Super Bowl 53 for the New England Patriots.
If you were/are a fan of the New England Patriots, you probably loved watching every minute of Super Bowl 53.
If you were/are a fan of the Los Angeles Rams, you probably loved watching it too until the very end.
If you were/are a fan of any of the other 30 NFL teams — or you’re “just in it for the halftime show and commercials” — then chances are you were probably bored stiff watching that particular edition of the NFL championship.
Let’s face it: People love watching high-scoring offenses. They’re just more exciting. Especially in an age defined by the popularity of fantasy football, most fans want to see touchdowns and scoring drives aplenty over a low-scoring, black-and-blue, traditional defensive struggle between two clubs.
The latter is exactly what people got in the lowest-scoring Super Bowl in NFL history. The game was so unappealing to some that the derisive term “the PuntBowl” was born, thanks to the Patriots and Rams combining for 14 punts (nine for L.A. and five for New England).
What’s the point of all this recapping of the past?
Only to illustrate what was an all-time performance by Ryan Allen, the six-year New England Patriots veteran. Allen pinned the Rams within their own 10-yard line on three of his five punts and averaged 43.0 yards per punt. His long that day was a 53.0 yard boomer.
His reward for all this?
Getting scrapped six months later in favor of fifth-round rookie draft pick Jake Bailey out of Stanford. Bailey beat Allen out in training camp and the preseason ahead of the 2019 season officially getting underway, and he never looked back.
It turned out to be a great decision on the part of Bill Belichick. With all due respect to Allen, Bailey was sensational last year. He finished second in the NFL in punts kept within the opponent’s 20-yard line — a credit to him as much as it was to then special teams coach Joe Judge and his phenomenal unit of players last season.
He also was second in the league in touchbacks.
Best-case scenario projection for 2020
Bailey even handled kickoff duties after placekicker Stephen Gostkowski was lost to season-ending hip surgery. Bailey really showcased himself as a phenomenal pickup for the Patriots last season, and the sky’s the limit for him in Year 2.
Absurdly, Bailey is still just 22 years old. If he continues to boom kicks down the field and pin opposing offenses back deep, he could be New England’s punter for many more years.
There’s nothing we’ve seen in one year’s worth of work that should discourage anyone about Bailey’s future prospects. His best-case scenario this year is growing into one of the best punters in the conference — if not the league in general.
Worst-case scenario projection for 2020
Outside of injury, there’s not a whole lot that could realistically happen to doom Bailey in 2020.
The Patriots won’t be keeping a second punter on their roster or anything crazy. Bailey did enough his rookie year to show that he’s the guy for this team long-term.
Should he suddenly forget everything he knows and start punting balls out of bounds on every possession like a madman, then and only then would he probably get released in favor of some available veteran. But that’s just not remotely likely at all in 2020 or beyond. This kid is good!