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Could Lechler break Baugh's record?

One of the NFL’s oldest records is Sammy Baugh’s single-season punting average of 51.40 yards per punt, set in 1940.

In seven decades since then, no one has topped 50 yards a punt, although Donnie Jones of the Rams averaged exactly 50.0 last year and Shane Lechler of the Raiders averaged 49.11 yards per punt in 2007.

This year there’s talk that Lechler might be ready to surpass Baugh’s mark. The Associated Press is pointing out that Lechler currently averages 52.3 yards a punt, by far the best mark in the league and well ahead of Baugh’s record pace.

However, as we’ve noted previously, punters routinely put up better numbers over the first half of the season than they do over the second half, as weather worsens and conditions become more difficult for punters. It would be tough for Lechler to continue to average 52.3 yards a punt for eight more games.

That doesn’t mean Lechler won’t break the record, just that Baugh’s record won’t go down easily.

It should also be noted that as great a punter as Baugh was, he didn’t have as strong a leg as Lechler. Baugh’s average was bolstered, however, by employing plenty of quick kicks, when he would take a snap at quarterback and then punt the ball from just a few yards behind the line of scrimmage. Those quick kicks usually got long rolls at the end, because opposing defenses wouldn’t have a returner ready to catch them on the fly.

In any event, while it’s tough to make much of a comparison between Lechler and Baugh, it will be interesting to see whether Lechler can keep up the pace and give Baugh a run for his money. At least, to the extent that watching the Oakland Raiders punt could ever be described as “interesting.”

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38 Responses to “Could Lechler break Baugh's record?”
  1. norseman jeff says: Nov 13, 2009 1:54 PM

    yawn!!!

  2. 1nationraidernation says: Nov 13, 2009 2:08 PM

    biggest crock is that he has only been to the pro bowl 4 times.

  3. Common Sense says: Nov 13, 2009 2:08 PM

    Not too mention he has to punt about 12 times a game.

  4. sportsstar4u says: Nov 13, 2009 2:11 PM

    norseman jeff…what’s wrong with you?
    you don’t enjoy these stories about punters averages? hmm, I can’t believe it!
    I bet Raider fans love this article. At least they can cheer someone on…it’s sure not the team.

  5. ignoringthehaters says: Nov 13, 2009 2:22 PM

    I love how people love to hate the Raiders. This team kicked all your pansy ass teams for decades and now that they are in a funk, the cockroaches come out the woodworks. Also, I hope Shane hits the Dallas scoreboard time after time after time after time after time.

  6. C-TownDawg24 says: Nov 13, 2009 2:23 PM

    you know guys, it’s ok to not post something for a little while. if you want to go ahead and leave stories about average yards per punt off the board, i’m sure most of the readers wouldn’t mind.

  7. boltmancraft says: Nov 13, 2009 2:29 PM

    You know WHY his average is so high? Because the Raiders CAN’T move the ball, so he’s always punting from deep in his own territory. Punters are weapons, but if you want to award a punter, award a SURGEON. Someone who not only can boot it fifty yards when he has to, but also one who pins opponents behind their own 20 yard-line 50% of the time…with ZERO touchbacks. Someone like Mike Scifres. As a punter, the guy is the best SURGEON out there. Now….THAT’S a weapon.

  8. STFU.Skins4Life says: Nov 13, 2009 2:30 PM

    The biggest thing in the Sammy Baugh 1940 season was that he also was the QB who lead the league in passing and the leagues leader in interceptions that year as well. Lechler just has to punt. Although like Common Sense says, thanks to Jamarcus (3 for 28) Russell, Lechler gets to punt on almost every Raiders possesion. That would actually be more opportunities to fail. Being that’s all the Raiders can do. But at least Al Davis is a control freak owner who at least knew a thing or two about football. Dan Snyder doesn’t know jack.

  9. PiKindaGuy says: Nov 13, 2009 2:32 PM

    Speaking as a Raiders fan, this is a sad sad record to be in a position to get.
    The reason he’s able to get these long averages is because we’ll usually start at say the 20 yard line, throw an incomplete pass, run the ball for 3 yards, be faced with 3rd and 7, throw another incomplete pass and get at the 23 at 4th down.
    That gives Lechler the full length of the field to work with basically, so he can just boom it, and our coverage team is full of speedy DBs/WRs (but can’t cover/catch) that can cover the field really well.
    If he were on a real team that actually drives the ball to say midfield or beyond, he’ll have a much shorter length to work with which thereby reduces his average considerably.
    Not to say that Lechler isn’t the best punter in the game now, or ever, as the guy is simply amazing..but being in Oakland is the best spot for him.
    The question is who can make the ball travel the farthest on the Raiders, Lechler, Janikowski who can boom it with the best of them, and Jamarcus who if nothing else, can sail football like a nerf.

  10. FireJerryJones says: Nov 13, 2009 2:36 PM

    It also helps when your offense allows you to keep punting from your own 20.

  11. Legend says: Nov 13, 2009 2:38 PM

    I think it’s hilarious how some of these guys are making fun of a story about punting averages. It’s as if they don’t realize how critical special teams are to the game of football. It’s not sexy, and it’s not about Brett Favre, but usually a real football fan likes a story about offensive linemen and punters and fullbacks from time to time…
    Maybe Norseman, Sportsstar and C-Town would prefer another story about Chad Ochocino’s cell-phone antics. That’s what you watch football for, right boys? Sheesh… amateurs.

  12. PayDoh says: Nov 13, 2009 2:39 PM

    I love how people love to hate the Raiders. This team kicked all your pansy ass teams for decades and now that they are in a funk, the cockroaches come out the woodworks. Also, I hope Shane hits the Dallas scoreboard time after time after time after time after time.
    —Haha, yeah that’s it. This clown says the Raiders are in a “funk”. They are a dreadful organization that hasn’t been good in years.
    2003: 4-12
    2004: 5-11
    2005: 4-12
    2006: 2-14
    2007: 4-12
    2008: 5- 11
    Some “Funk” there buddy. We hate on the Raiders because the convict fans make it so easy. They always talk about how the Raiders are back and then the reality sets in. If they had background checks on the fans, the place would be completely empty. Bunch of criminals.

  13. RaiderMight says: Nov 13, 2009 2:43 PM

    Oh get off your high horse and go read the other dumb blogs on this site. Go catch up on Ocho’s latest antics.
    ———–
    sportsstar4u says:
    November 13, 2009 2:11 PM
    I bet Raider fans love this article. At least they can cheer someone on…it’s sure not the team.

  14. RaiderMight says: Nov 13, 2009 2:45 PM

    Check the stats on Lechler you fool. That’s exactly what he does:
    “boltmancraft says:
    November 13, 2009 2:29 PM
    You know WHY his average is so high? Because the Raiders CAN’T move the ball, so he’s always punting from deep in his own territory. Punters are weapons, but if you want to award a punter, award a SURGEON. Someone who not only can boot it fifty yards when he has to, but also one who pins opponents behind their own 20 yard-line 50% of the time…with ZERO touchbacks. Someone like Mike Scifres. As a punter, the guy is the best SURGEON out there. Now….THAT’S a weapon.

  15. Common Sense says: Nov 13, 2009 2:55 PM

    Man PayDoh you’re full of zingers aren’t you. Never heard Oakland fans called convicts…….so original.

  16. Ralph says: Nov 13, 2009 2:58 PM

    with the number of punts he’s averaging per game his leg could fall off before he gets to the end of the season.
    the upside is the more times he punts the less damage to his average a bad punt does.

  17. Brohamma says: Nov 13, 2009 2:59 PM

    Well, lets not forget that the season was quite a bit shorter then, than it is now. It will be interesting to see how his averages stack up at the end of the same amount of games.
    As the motto says… “Commitment to Excrement!”

  18. tailgater says: Nov 13, 2009 3:00 PM

    Lechler is great
    weather in oakland home games has been great and actually very warm.
    Raider November – December schedule are COLD games.
    Likely to decrease average. but he is great and great person too.

  19. bobinpuertorico says: Nov 13, 2009 3:04 PM

    Do not forget the impact of when the NFL moved the change of possession spot for missed field goals. When teams would turn the ball over at the 20 yard line on a missed field goal, there was a greater tendancy to try 50 and even 60 yard field goals. However, once teams started to get the ball at the spot of the actual kick, teams started to pass on long field goals and punt. This resulted in an increased number of punts from around the 40 – 45 yard line, and a successful punt (inside the 20) could be 30 yards or less. This change no doubt reduced punter averages by at least several yards.

  20. TylerDurden says: Nov 13, 2009 3:04 PM

    Lechler > Scifres….obviously

  21. ignoringthehaters says: Nov 13, 2009 3:12 PM

    Hey Playdoh, look at their record the 6 years prior to that. But oh yeah, let’s leave that out. Nice job on your post “buddy”. You know I’m right, they kicked YOUR teams ass and every other teams as well so you want to cry like a schoolgirl. If you think this will continue for another 6 years you know about as much football as I’ve forgotten. You know nothing of facts, you call the fans criminals, go sit in the Black Hole and say that. Typical internet tough guy. Whatsa matta, Oakland fan steal your wife? LMAO

  22. DocBG says: Nov 13, 2009 3:14 PM

    lechler is a damn fine punter and if anyone is going to break the record, why not him? yes, the stars line up for him and really, there might be other punters that could do it in the same situation, but I’ve got nothing against the guy, he is the hardest working punter in the league hands down.

  23. LightningLucci says: Nov 13, 2009 3:14 PM

    RaiderMight says, “Check the stats on Lechler you fool. That’s exactly what he does:”
    Lechler has led the league in touchbacks in six of his nine complete seasons. Not a good stat!
    Although I’d be the first to counter that the percentage of possible touchbacks would be a much more relevant stat than the simple number of touchbacks, I’m just trying to make the point:
    Some guys punt for distance, some punt for precision.
    Most pro-bowl voters are lazy and just pay attention to average. Somebody needs to come up with a punter-rating stat to give us a better indicator of performance.

  24. sportsstar4u says: Nov 13, 2009 3:26 PM

    Legend, you must be a Raiders fan.

  25. jedicurt says: Nov 13, 2009 4:01 PM

    14 inside 20′s only 4 touch backs… not to shabby on 46 punts when you are at a point that you can average 52 yrds per punt

  26. Iverson says: Nov 13, 2009 4:07 PM

    we tawkin’ about punters? Punters? we tawkin’ about punters man? Not the Quarterback….Not the Defense…Not the running backs….We tawkin about punters………

  27. INVAIDUH says: Nov 13, 2009 4:23 PM

    And Kiper said he was drafted to high

  28. Legend says: Nov 13, 2009 4:40 PM

    sportsstar, have you ever even heard the name Sammy Baugh before? I, my friend, am a football fan first and foremost.
    Don’t sweat it, the tide is tipped way to your side and you can expect plenty of end-zone dancing NASCAR commercials and beer this weekend. Have fun buddy.

  29. Joe in Toronto, Canada says: Nov 13, 2009 5:15 PM

    How about the kids hatin on Shane Lechler?
    They even hate on a punter, lol.
    Hey kids, time for bed.

  30. Brooklyn Eagle says: Nov 13, 2009 6:35 PM

    Here’s a stat:
    Raiders’ Total Offensive Yards: 1726.
    Lechler Total Yards on Punts: 2407.

  31. Canyonero says: Nov 13, 2009 6:39 PM

    Cool story, I didn’t know Baugh’s punting record was in jeopardy.
    I second (or third?) sentiments above: true football fans care about special teams, kickers, linemen, equipment managers.. all that!

  32. brasho says: Nov 13, 2009 7:22 PM

    I think punting in warmer cities (Oakland and Dallas) as well as the high altitude of Denver shouldn’t hurt him too much. As much as Lechler has to punt it will be a wonder, and perhaps advantageous, if he wears his leg out and has to go on IR.

  33. as big as a hat says: Nov 13, 2009 7:53 PM

    As a Raider fan, it must be said that watching Lechler punt is one of the most interesting aspects of any Oakland game. He gets more work than most punters, so he has to be consistently good to garner an average like that.

  34. Route36West says: Nov 13, 2009 8:19 PM

    First you should see how many games the Raiders have in domes and in general areas of the country with nice weather. That way we can see how good a chance he has at breaking the record.
    Another thing I found the part about Baugh doing quick kicks as interesting. Why dont teams do that more often now? It could come in very handy on 4th and shorts or on the plays when its like 3rd and 20 and we all know that coach is just going to run the ball. It would serve as a way to confuse the opposing defense. Imagine its 4th and 2 and Chad Johnson lines up in the wildcat and he quick kicks and like you said the defense wont be ready so it rolls. That way there would be no chance of a Desean Jackson or Devin hester returing the punt. The imagine what defensive cordinators will think after a couple of quick kicks. They would have there guys ready for it but Chad instead runs the ball and picks up the first down.
    This could cause mass confusion on the defensive side of the ball. Coaches wouldnt know what was going to happen on 4th and short. As long as you have a skilled player on offense who can punt decently this could be a deadly weapon imagine if your golden boy pat white could punt. That would make the defenses go nuts. Not only would they have to worry about the punt they would also have to worry about him taking off and running or throwing the ball. Head coaches really should think about this I think it can work.

  35. southernboi727 says: Nov 13, 2009 10:34 PM

    I don’t see why teams don’t attempt that in the NFL today what Baugh did. It would be fun to see.

  36. MasterShake says: Nov 14, 2009 12:09 AM

    It must be refreshing to know that your two MVP’s on the team are a punter and a field goal kicker.

  37. heLL paso says: Nov 14, 2009 1:08 AM

    LightningLucci says:
    “Lechler has led the league in touchbacks in six of his nine complete seasons. Not a good stat!
    Although I’d be the first to counter that the percentage of possible touchbacks would be a much more relevant stat than the simple number of touchbacks, I’m just trying to make the point:
    Some guys punt for distance, some punt for precision.
    Most pro-bowl voters are lazy and just pay attention to average. Somebody needs to come up with a punter-rating stat to give us a better indicator of performance.”
    There is an indicator, it’s called Net Avg and Lechler holds all the records for it. It’s not Lechler’s fault that must kickers in the NFL, kicking from their own 40, will boot a high kick that someone catches at the 15 yard line and returns to the 25, while he can, in a worst case scenario, boot it through the end zone for a net of 40. As for precison, Lechler has improved ten-fold the past few seasons. He’s actually quite good at placing it inside the 20. All his touchbacks are kicks of around 55-65 yards. It’s not like he’s producing nets of 25.
    One thing that nobody is talking about, that I’m fairly certain about, is that when Baugh played, the distance for punting average wasn’t from the line of scrimmage to where the ball is downed/caught, but it was from where the ball was kicked to where it was downed/caught. That adds at least 5 yards to every kick. Lechler’s average, if it went by the rules when Baugh played, would be around 57 yards.

  38. jeremyb91 says: Nov 14, 2009 8:48 AM

    Regardless of where the Raiders punt the ball, the most important stat for punters is the net yardage (the punt minus the return yardage).
    Lechler leads the league with a 44.9 net which is 3 yards further than the next best meanwhile Scifres is 10th in the league in this department.

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