NFL teams are punting less than ever before.
This season NFL teams are averaging just 3.46 punts per game. As noted by FootballPerspective.com, that’s by far the lowest in NFL history.
Only one team, Washington, is averaging more than five punts a game. Ten teams are averaging less than three punts a game (and the Packers are averaging less than two punts a game). Last year only one team, the Ravens, averaged less than three punts a game while three teams averaged more than five punts a game.
As we’ve previously noted, that’s in part because teams are getting more aggressive on fourth downs than ever before. This season teams are going for it 69 percent of the times that they face fourth-and-1, and converting 77 percent of those attempts. Most of the time, fourth-and-1 leads to a first down — more often than it leads to a punt, a field goal or a turnover on downs combined. That’s unprecedented in NFL history.
On Thursday night, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians decided to go for it on fourth-and-1 from his own 19-yard line. It worked, and it was barely remarked upon. It wasn’t that long ago that people would have been losing their minds if a coach had kept his offense on the field in such an obvious punting situation. Now it’s just accepted that punting is a bad outcome for an offense, and coaches should avoid it when they can.