He just quietly went about booming punt after punt.
In other words, ho-hum, same as always.
By now, the Dolphins and their fans have come to realize they have one of the premier punters in the NFL and the 2013 preseason just provided more validation.
Without much fanfare, Fields had himself a borderline spectacular preseason as he averaged 53.6 yards per punt with a net of 43.6 yards. To put those numbers in perspective, consider that the NFL regular season record for highest gross punting average is 51.4 (Sammy Baugh, 1940) and that only two punters (Andy Lee in 2011 and Shane Lechler in 2009) have ever had a better net punting average over the course of a season.
“I’m hitting the ball very well,” Fields said. “The guys that I have in front of me are blocking well and getting downfield and covering. That kind of lets me do what I need to do. If the guys aren’t covering in front of me, obviously I can’t kick it as far as I need to or I can. Them doing their job allows me to do mine.”
Fields’ job includes holding for field goal and extra-point attempts, as well as doing the onside kicks whenever necessary.
But the Dolphins gave Fields a contract last August for his punting ability.
Fields rewarded the Dolphins’ faith in 2012 by leading the NFL with a 50.2-yard gross average. In the process, he and New Orleans’ Thomas Morstead became the fifth and sixth punters in NFL history to average at least 50 yards in a season. They joined Baugh, Lechler (he did it twice), Lee and Donnie Jones.
Ironically, Jones accomplished the feat in 2008 with the St. Louis Rams, whom he had joined as a restricted free agent after the Dolphins declined to match an offer sheet. The pick the Dolphins received as compensation was a seventh-round selection in 2007, a choice they used on — you guessed it — Brandon Fields.
Now, Fields has supplanted Jones and just about every other punter around. He’ll enter the 2013 season with a 46.43-yard career average, which happens to be the second-highest of all time among punters with at least 250 attempts. The only you with a higher average is Lechler, who is at 47.55.
Fields, though, says he can always improve.
“You can always improve your technique,” Fields said. “It’s very similar to golf. Golfers are constantly at their game, same with punters. Punters and kickers are constantly working at the little things, making sure that the little things you keep up on and you’re still doing them correctly so that when you go out there to punt the whole entire process is how it should be.”
It was awfully hard this preseason to find many times when the entire process involving Fields wasn’t how it was supposed to be.
That said, expecting another season with a 50-yard average may be unrealistic because Fields might be asked to pooch-punt more often. What the Dolphins can feel confident about is that they have a punting situation that’s about as good as any in the league.