This week in Player Spotlight, we will take a look at a player whose value tends to go overlooked and many times underappreciated. This player has a small part in the overall scheme of things but his part is vital to the defense and causing issues for opposing offenses. The spotlight shines on Houston Texans punter Shane Lechler.
Boom! That’s the sound you hear when the ball comes off Lechler’s foot and it’s a thing of beauty when you are a defense while it’s dreadful if you’re an opposing offense. Most times, when a punter comes out on the field it’s not received well by fans or defenses. It usually means that your offense hit a wall and couldn’t move the ball. Since the Texans acquired veteran punter Shane Lechler, things have changed. Now, whenever the punter comes out the Texans’ defense tends to be in awe of the precision and effectiveness of the Texans new punter. The spin he puts on the ball is like nothing ever seen before here in Houston. Lechler has an enormous boom to his punts and not only are they high, but they have a tendency to fall right inside the five yard line consistently. With punts like this, it allows the defense to be more aggressive when they are deep in the opponent’s territory to create turnovers and even safeties.
In the two games Lechler has been in with the Texans, he has had 3 punts and averaged 45 yards versus the Chargers and 7 punts with a 48 yard average against the Titans. His net average for punts in the first two games is just over 43 yards and, with the coverage being so much better, the return yards have decreased significantly since 2012. The importance of a great punter can never be overlooked when you have an aggressive defense. Lechler consistently flips the field for the defense and puts quarterbacks between a “rock and a hard place.” With Lechler continuing to drop his punts inside the five yard line, I expect to see more safeties by the Texans’ defense and turnovers deep in the opposing team’s territory. One major key to getting the momentum in your favor is to create turnovers if you’re the defense. Make no mistake, the defense has to capitalize on Lechler’s ability to flip the field but he is an invaluable piece to a team with Super Bowl aspirations.