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Guest Blog: The Curse of Ray Guy

Things must be going well for the Skins if we're obsessed with a rookie punter. But alas, I continue to get a lot of emails and questions about Durant Brooks, and this engaging guest blog from Ami Rozmaryn.

Mr. Rozmaryn has done some interesting research on precisely how some top college punters - winners of the Ray Guy Award, like Brooks last season - have fared. (Interesting, the only one of these kids to do okay this decade in the NFL, Daniel Sepulveda, was someone Joe Gibbs dabbled with, having business ties to the kid's father from NASCAR. It should also be noted that Ray Guy is a family friend and someone who worked with Brooks as he learning his craft.)

Okay, I'll let Ami take over from here. He writes:

We've been desperate for a good consistent punter since Matt Turk left in '99. If it's important to have a punter we can count on year after year, then we need to be willing to invest a little time in Brooks. I think it will be worth it. He's shown he can do it. If we do get rid of him, though, we should get Sam Paulescu. He punted in week 17 last year for the Broncos, averaging 44.2 and netting 40.0. His preseason totals from the past two years are nine punts for averages of 49.1 yards and 42.2 net yards, which would have put him first in both categories last year.

Here's an interesting and disturbing thing I came across in my studies. Recap of all Ray Guy Award winners:

Kevin "Rocket Shoe" Stemke, winner 2000 Undrafted, 2002
Stemke was dropped by Oakland after after netting an average of 23 yards in three punts Week 2 of '02. He had a total of five punts that year. He had a second chance punting the last eight games (including playoffs) for the Rams in '04, averaging just under 40 yards per punt. He hasn't punted since.

Career Stats (not including playoffs): 38 Punts, 40.2 Avg., 36.2 Net Avg.

Travis Dorsch, winner 2001 4th round, 2002
Dorsch also lasted five punts his rookie year. All of them came in his first game for the Bengals, and two of them came right back the other way for TDs. He too never punted again, but did get the opportunity to attempt a kickoff once that year that went 40 yards.

Career Stats: 5 Punts, 32.4 Avg., 1.8 Net Avg

Mark Mariscal, winner 2002 Undrafted

Mercifully he was never drafted or picked up by a team.

B.J. Sander, winner 2003 3rd round, 2004
Sander played well in Europe his rookie year. When he was called up to Green Bay the next year, he performed admirably. That is, until the temperature started dropping. His average went with it. Over his last five weeks he averaged 35.7 yards and netted 29.1 per punt. I say his last five weeks because the Packers happily played their last two games (and every game since) without their third round pick.

Career Stats: 64 Punts, 39.2 Avg., 33.9 Net Avg.

Dan Sepulveda, winner 2004, 2006 4th round, 2007
Finally, we come to a punter who is still in the league. His rookie year in Pittsburgh he put up very respectable numbers. Fewer than half his punts were returned, and though he did have one returned for a TD, he did have a 32 yard completion, so it evens out. Maybe it takes two Ray Guy Awards for success in the NFL. 16 games, so far so good. "Not so fast" said Ray Guy on the first day of training camp in '08, as he stabbed his Dan Sepulveda Voodoo doll in the ACL. He was placed on IR. Now his career, which hinges on his leg, which hinges on his ACL, is in a very precarious situation.

Career Stats: 68 Punts, 42.4 Avg., 37.9 Net Avg.

Ryan Plackemeier, winner 2005 7th round 2006
Plackemeier not only lasted his entire rookie year for Seattle, but he player superbly. He finished the season tied for 4th in the league in average at 45 yards per punt, and a less stellar but still impressive 37.6 net yards per punt. His next year his average and net slipped 5 and 3 yards respectively. Not too good, but he was still on the team. Plackemeier owns the record among RGA winners, playing two full seasons plus one game. That one game, however, was a doozie. Plackemeier had 11 punts, including one for 31 yards, two for 22 yards each, and one returned for a TD. Two days later Plackemeyer was given a lesson in punting as he was booted off the team and downed just inside his living room.

Career Stats: 181 Punts, 42.3 Avg., 35.5 Net Avg.

Which brings us to our own dear punter. Durant Brooks. How does all this affect him? Is there a Curse of Ray Guy that all winners have no choice but to succumb to? Maybe it's the pressure or the difference between the NFL and college punting games. Maybe it's just that the teams, hoping for a complete, no-hassle punter to be delivered to their door, realized that there is some assembly required, and lost patience. I couldn't say which it is, but it definitely has me thinking. Either way, it's too early to say if Brooks is just another victim of Ray Guy's vengeful jealousy. He's been a mixed bag so far (really); let's see what shakes out.

By Jason La Canfora  |  October 7, 2008; 7:00 PM ET
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Next: Skins Taking Nothing for Granted


Durant will settle down and have a nice long career.

Trust me. I know about these things.

Posted by: MikeBragg | October 7, 2008 7:17 PM | Report abuse

All this punter talk is dumb. Sounds like some would rather have Frost, who is on the verge of being cut by GB. They had several punter come in on Monday. Frost was not the answer and GB is finding that out.

Best case is that the Skins players are not reading or hearing the news so that they are not affected by this kind of BS. The reality is that they are human and must wonder what is being said/written about them so the look. How about we get behind Brooks and help him gain confidence in his job? When Zorn/Smith decide to bring someone in to challenge him then maybe we could talk. Until then, get behind the kid so that he does not need to worry about his job.

JC recently said that now that he and Zorn are on the same page he does not have to worry about making mistakes and losing his job, just have fun. Look what that has done for him this year.

Go Brooks!!

Posted by: Curzon417 | October 7, 2008 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Brooks has turned in basically the same performance Frost gave. The big difference is that Brooks is a rookie and you expect to have these ups and downs, whereas Frost was a vet who was extremely inconsistent. I'm glad the Skins made the switch, if nothing else Brooks has a much better upside.

Posted by: az_david | October 7, 2008 7:50 PM | Report abuse

I am all for giving Brooks a chance to succeed.

Posted by: Markin21132 | October 7, 2008 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Most guest blogs suck. At least this one was well-written.

"Plackemeyer was given a lesson in punting as he was booted off the team and downed just inside his living room."

Nicely done.

Posted by: PDiddy | October 7, 2008 8:43 PM | Report abuse

As a former college and professional punter, I can tell you without a doubt that Mr Brooks is maybe going to do a good job or maybe not. I punted for 2 years at Purdue then left college for the glory life in the CFL. Let me tell you, the women in Canada go crazy for the punters! Anyhow, after 3 games in the CFL, I decided that I was good enough to quit.and go into sports commentary work. This is my 1st serious foray into it and just like Brooks, I will no doubt succeed. Or maybe I won't. Absolutely.

Posted by: tdpillo123 | October 7, 2008 9:00 PM | Report abuse

JLC you tool, you are the one who is obsessed w/ D Brooks. Its the only negative you can seemingly find. I'm glad 'Tana had good team first comments after he didn't get any balls this week, or you would have tried to stir that into the crisis du jour. Brooks supplanted your homey Frosty the Clown, and now you are the one who brings it up every week, whoops i mean every week he doesnt kick ass, to keep the any thing you can find anti redskins flames burning brightly. You are disingenuous at best. You asked Zorn the question, didn't like his answer, and now you can't let it go. Keep picking the Jansen scab, maybe he will drill you in the head and you can get some pub outta that.

Posted by: SkinsfaninKaneohe | October 7, 2008 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey, man [sniff], that's my [sniff] punter ...

Posted by: dcsween | October 7, 2008 9:54 PM | Report abuse

SkinsfaninKaneohe, its a guest blog.

Posted by: dcsween | October 7, 2008 9:55 PM | Report abuse

Its under JLC's byline, and I'm sure if it was "Lets STFU and give this kid a chance" we never would have seen it. JLC is a muckraker.

Posted by: SkinsfaninKaneohe | October 7, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Nice to hear encouraging words from you No.4.

Posted by: Red4ever | October 7, 2008 10:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm telling you, look over here. Eagles Punter, Sav Rocca has a brother who will be retiring from Aussie Rules next season.

Posted by: kost52 | October 8, 2008 5:54 AM | Report abuse

Well thought out comments from a guest, that's nice. Some must believe that trees are planted instead of grown. We have the opportunity to grow a punter into a 15-20 year rock instead of engaging in a punter of the week contest as far as the eye can see. He has had some downs, but his good kicks have been huge. Sure we would all love to have two touchdowns back, but there were ten other guys on the field when those guys scored. Lay off the kid and let him get to work without listening to his future on the radio and he will settle down.

Ten rookies on the roster and he is the only one to start five games. Horton has been solid and fortunate by being in the right place at the right time, but not spectacular. Our pass catching trio drafted to save us has been solidly outplayed by the 08' version of the smurfs. None of them are looking for other jobs yet so chill, and lets have this talk in december when we have locked up the NFC East.

Posted by: fireballhank | October 8, 2008 7:45 AM | Report abuse

"Ten rookies on the roster and he is the only one to start five games."

When you are the only person at that position that statistic looses its luster.

Regardless, Go Skins!


Posted by: TeeSkins | October 8, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Give the kid a chance. He's a rookie and he's not the only one on the field. I do see incremental improvements.

His holding for placekicking has improved. He just needs a little time to get over the adrenaline surge of being in the NFL. I suspect he will settle down in the next few weeks and we will see the Brooks that was expected.

Posted by: jpatrick1 | October 8, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

interesting post Nick. It would be great to do a side by side comparison with how well Heisman winners have done as well (especially on the Skins (desmond).

I wonder if the dynamics of college punting are different - i dont see how they could be other than the weird types of rushes/protections you sometimes see (NC State). The reality might just be that punting is something of a crapshoot, and that not everyone is going to turn out to be a classy, skilled punter like Jeff 'the ageless wonder' Feagles

Posted by: jkru91 | October 8, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"Our pass catching trio drafted to save us has been solidly outplayed by the 08' version of the smurfs."


You expected Thomas and Kelly to immediately outplay one of the premier (when healthy) receivers in the league?

Step away from the Kool-Aid.

Posted by: mattsoundworld | October 8, 2008 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Durant Brooks runs like a 12 year old girl. Seriously, watch the return highlights after his womanly 30 yd. kicks.

Posted by: 428Maverick | October 8, 2008 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Two TD returns in 5 games? Wouldn't be too bad if the issue was coverage but when it's the punter's fault (as it obviously has been this season) you have to let the guy go and move on. Too many able punters out there to worry about bruising the ego of a not-quite-ready rookie.

Posted by: SBXVII | October 8, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I think his kicking will be ok. Its his holding that I'm nervous about. Let's see how everyone on here feels if he misses a hold and we lose a game. Or if he punts it short, gives up a TD return, and we lose the game.

Winning covers up a lot of mistakes. I'm glad someone is pointing out those mistakes, so we can fix them before its too late.

Posted by: JMSinCHeights | October 8, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Why not just hire Ray Guy to come to Redskins Park and tutor Brooks? There already is a relationship there and maybe Guy could help him out with any problems the kid has, if not just give Brooks encouragement...

Posted by: BuddyRedskin | October 8, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

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