Jacob Schum is the Green Bay Packers’ punter.
“We just need to punt it better,” coach Mike McCarthy said on Monday, a day after the Packers overcame Schum’s struggles in a 23-16 victory over the Giants. “I’m not a big fan of changing players in midstream. He’s new here, and we just need to punt the ball better. We need to cover the ball the way we’re supposed to cover it. Coverage is really a strength of our special teams -- was last year, was the first three games -- and we didn’t do a very good job last night. So, that’ll be a big emphasis for us as we move into the Dallas week.”
With only the Monday night game yet to be played in Week 5, Schum ranks 31st out of 33 qualifying punters with an average of 40.4 yards. At least the Packers have limited the opponents’ return game. Schum’s net average of 38.0 yards ranks 22nd. Of his 15 punts, only four have been returned.
Schum replaced Tim Masthay at the end of training camp. In six seasons, Masthay had a career average of 44.2 yards and a net average of 39.0. Not only was Masthay’s career net average a franchise record, but he also owns the top five single-season net averages in Packers history, including last year, when his net of 40.2 yards eclipsed his 39.0 net from 2014.
On Sunday night against New York, Schum averaged 36.5 yards on four punts. His longest punt of the night might have been his worst punt of the night – a low rocket down the middle of the field that had just 3.00 seconds of hang time. The Packers’ coverage unit did well to limit Dwayne Harris to a 6-yard return.
“I feel a little bit bad for the guy because he’s a little bit under the microscope, obviously, with what’s going on around here the last few years,” special teams coordinator Ron Zook said. “But you look at their punter (Brad Wing), he shanked one yesterday, and if you look around, just watching around the league, there’s been some guys who do that. But, obviously, he has to punt better. I think he knows that. He’ll be the first to tell you. Like I told him today, ‘He can do that.’ He’s shown that he can do that. It’s just the consistency thing. Obviously, field position is a key for us. He’s got to punt it down there and give us a chance to cover it and we have to go down and cover it.”
Bill Huber is publisher of PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at www.twitter.com/PackerReport.