Michael Lombardo: Jammer has the underrated market cornered
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Picking the most underrated player on the Chargers is quite the tall task; on a team stacked with Pro Bowl-caliber talent, there are not many players that don't get the recognition they actually deserve.
However, one player who truly deserves much more respect as possibly the best at his position is punter Mike Scifres. The six-year veteran doesn't get the credit he deserves because Oakland's Shane Lechler is in the same division, but Scifres is just as good – if not better – than the perennial All Pro.
Last season, Scifres punted 81 times for an average of 46.1 yards per punt. He had more punts downed inside the 20-yard line (36) than he had returned (29). Close football games are often determined in the field position battle, and Scifres is the ultimate weapon in that aspect of the game.
While Lechler had just seven touchbacks out of 73 punts last year, he only dropped 25 kicks inside the 20, while 40 of his punts were returned. Lechler may have the strongest leg in the NFL, but Scifres has a great deal of finesse to go along with a strong leg, making him a punter whom the Chargers can always trust to get the job done.
Scifres was very lucky to enter the League under the circumstances in which he did. Getting the chance to be mentored as a rookie by former Charger Darren Bennett, Scifres learned some of the intricacies of punting from the Australian football star.
By teaming up Scifres with Pro Bowl special teamer Kassim Osgood, the Chargers have the most dangerous punting game in the NFL. Scifres is well respected by the powers-that-be in the League, but the average fan has never even heard of the Louisiana native. That is a big mistake.
Quentin Jammer is hands-down the most underrated player on the roster, with an emphasis on the word hands. After all, his suspect hands and mediocre ball skills are the only things preventing him from being a regular in the Pro Bowl.
Jammer is one of the most consistent and complete cornerbacks in the NFL. He's physical at the line of scrimmage, which allows him to disrupt timing-based offenses and slow down receivers getting into their routes.
Jammer always finds himself in great position downfield, forcing quarterbacks to distribute the ball elsewhere. Case in point: quarterbacks kept throwing away from him late in the season, even when Antonio Cromartie was setting records on the opposite side of the field.
In fact, Jammer played a key role in Cromartie's development. Here's what Jammer told SDBoltReport.com in an exclusive interview during Cromartie's rookie season: "You have to teach him the ropes a little bit. You see he has so much athletic ability out there; you just want to see him get his technique ready for the season."
Jammer's contributions go beyond coverage and camaraderie. He's one of the best run-stopping corners in the league, registering at least 60 tackles in each of his six seasons. He's also a force on special teams, where he serves as the gunner in kick coverage.
Most importantly, Jammer has learned to play big in big situations. In 2006, Jammer gave up a 49-yard catch to Reche Caldwell late in the playoff loss to the New England Patriots. Rather than letting that slip-up fester, Jammer redeemed himself in last season's playoff rematch. He led the team with three pass breakups, all of which came on third down, and snagged an interception.
Those contributions, and the minimal recognition he receives in return, make him the Chargers' most underrated player.
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