Packers Not Getting A Kick Out Of Masthay

Green Bay Packers punter Tim Masthay has seen a lot in his six seasons with the team.  He came on as a rookie in 2010 and won the starting job away from Jeremy Kapinos and later found himself kicking in the Super Bowl that same season (Kapinos joined the Pittsburgh Steelers and would kick against the Packers in Super Bowl XLV).  It seemed as though the Packers found a special teams gem after spending the few years prior trying to replace Jon Ryan, who the Packers decided to let go to the surprise of many.  Masthay quickly became a reliable part of keeping field position in Green Bay's favor over the first few years of his career.  

In 2012, Masthay watched his colleague, Mason Crosby, suffer through a miserable season in which he had the football version of the yips and struggled every time he lined up to kick.  Fans and media wondered often if Crosby was on the fast track out of Green Bay after what had been a solid career to that point and he answered the criticism with a bounce back 2013.  Now it's Masthay who's in the cross hairs after three straight seasons of a declining punting average.  His average has gone from 44.6 yards in 2013 to 44.1 in 2014 and down to 43.9 last season in 2015.  Those drops don't look big on paper, but remember that's an average and it takes some pretty bad kicks to lower it over the course of an entire season.  The eyeball test has not been kind to Masthay either, as he has become known for his awful shanks.  

Punters don't break the bank so the money isn't a huge issue with regards to what the Packers decide to do with Masthay.  It's not like they have to choose to forego an impact player at another position to draft a punter early on, at least now that Mike Sherman is gone.  As much as general manager Ted Thompson loves the undrafted free agent market, that's likely the perfect place for him to find someone to come in and give Masthay a good push come training camp.  And the Packers absolutely need to make Masthay earn his way this year.

I mentioned field position earlier and not only was Masthay in the bottom third of punters for the last three seasons, but he's also had one of the lowest total of kicks inside the 20 over the last two years.  I won't get into net yardage because a lot of that has to do with coverage, which Masthay isn't directly responsible for but those line drives don't give his gunners a fighting chance to get to the ball carrier before the ball does.  Thank goodness for Jeff Janis, the wonder boy gunner this past season, right?  OK, yes, I had to insert Janis into the conversation because let's be honest, it at least doubles the comment count.

What it all boils down to is that the Packers aren't getting what they need out of Masthay.  The special teams improved greatly from 2014 to 2015 and so perhaps Masthay's struggles were amplified but regardless, his pattern of decline has lasted long enough that it would seem that it's not a slump.  It's become a way of life.  The ginger did the Packers proud for his first three seasons but barring a major turnabout this summer, we may very well be looking at a new face in the deep backfield on punting downs.

This change could have a more significant impact when we consider that long-time long snapper Brett Goode will likely miss the entire 2016 season after suffering a torn ACL late in the 2015 season.  Rick Lovato was brought in off the streets, literally off the streets of New Jersey, to finish out the season.  The Packers may stick with him this season or opt to bring in a new snapper but all of that change could turn out to be a big challenge for special teams coordinator Ron Zook.  Zook took over that role when the Packers let Shawn Slocum go following the 2014 season.  It's easy to take for granted that the snap gets cleanly to the kicker and just like a quarterback and his receivers, snappers and kickers develop chemistry and that can take time.

On that note, one reason that the Packers may decide to keep Masthay is that he has also been the holder for Crosby and Crosby has supported Masthay through his struggles.  Head coach Mike McCarthy has been accused of being loyal to a fault and we could see that loyalty lead to Masthay coming back this season.  Our first hint of the team's perception of the punting situation will be the draft and if they draft a kicker late.  After that, it's who they might (actually, should) bring in to compete for the job.  Masthay may be the incumbent and has served the team well in seasons past, but it's time for the Packers to put on their business hat and do what's best for the team.

(This piece comes on the heels of Masthay's birthday, which was Wednesday.  Some gift giver I am!)

 

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Jason is a freelance writer on staff since 2012 and also co-hosts Cheesehead TV Live, Pulse of the Pack and Pack A Day podcasts.  You can follow him on Twitter here

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Comments (31)

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sheppercheeser's picture

March 18, 2016 at 05:38 am

Kick, kick, kick Masthay to the curb! Your only job is to punt (yeah, I know and hold the ball for Crosby), but if you can't do the one thing you were signed for at a high level, then b-bye!

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croatpackfan's picture

March 18, 2016 at 06:27 am

Jasone, the best present you can give to someone is the truth about him! That is, also, the best help for that person! So, yeah, you gave the best present to Tim! I agree with you that we will see if there will be some drafting or signing UDFA or FA, after which we will be better informed and have better clue... Remember, during TC of the last season, Tim already had one competitor. But he just did not suit well to the Packers...

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Ibleedgreenmore's picture

March 18, 2016 at 06:41 am

To me he is useful on field goals and extra points, other than that he is not good at all.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 18, 2016 at 07:04 am

Somewhere in this country there is a young guy who can boom some punts, right? Bring him to camp.

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lou's picture

March 18, 2016 at 06:42 pm

Yes, I wonder too where the college kids with the big legs end up after watching them change field position in the bowl games. What they need to do is give another punter a FAIR chance to win the job, because of the holder situation they played politics with the kid they brought in last year - he never had a chance to compete.

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Tundraboy's picture

March 18, 2016 at 07:51 pm

Or Aaron can throw a skyscraper hail Mary like in Detroit. Hell it even gave RRodgers enough time to get down field. Then again he did have a 10 second head start. Anyway we need a punter with that kind of hang time.

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Razer's picture

March 18, 2016 at 07:11 am

Masthay can kick the ball but he is inconsistent and doesn't handle the pressure very well. Not what you want when all the chips are in. Apparently, he has done what the Packers want with directional kicking and that has contributed to better punt coverage. Still, the shanks are hard to take.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 18, 2016 at 08:05 am

Regarding pressure situations, it does seem like Masthay's shanks come at the worst possible times. OTOH, getting the ball down properly on game winning field goal tries has pressure, and Masthay seems fine there. Probably does not matter: we need to bring in competition for him, preferably a UDFA, as I am not a fan of drafting punters.

Not sure how the special teams improvement amplified Masthay's issues, but we still have hidden yardage losses due to punting.

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dobber's picture

March 18, 2016 at 08:10 am

While the Packers might not be getting a kick out of Masthay, we have a great old time kicking him around...

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RCPackerFan's picture

March 18, 2016 at 08:12 am

There are almost always 1-2 times in a game where you really need to try and flip field position. Like when they are backed up into their own territory, for a couple of series and really need something to back up the other team.
Masthay has not shown he can flip the field position. We really could use a punter that can do that.

Though his punting is probably average, we should add that he does add value as a holder for Crosby. That shouldn't go unnoticed.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

March 18, 2016 at 08:49 am

Most of the NFL kickers are about the same, but I do remember a guy back in the late 90's named Craig Hentrich who I thought was exceptional.

He was a taller fellow around 6'3" and punted very well and was able to kick off well also, plus he was a much better than average emergency place kicker.

Just a thought from memory lane some of you older guys may remember as well.

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4thand1's picture

March 18, 2016 at 04:03 pm

Hentrich wanted a big raise and Ron Wolfe said cya.

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lou's picture

March 18, 2016 at 06:45 pm

Great flash back memory, Ron Wolf refused to make him the fist $1M punter and let him walk, Wolf, a dead honest man said that was one of his biggest mistakes. Not only could he punt but he was a solid backup place kicker and could run out of punt formation, a real athlete.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 18, 2016 at 09:21 am

Deleted.

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WinUSA's picture

March 18, 2016 at 10:13 am

Mathsay's decline has been a puzzle...from the New York Jets game of which neither team could get their offense going.... I have never seen a punter boom the ball and be so effective in placing the ball within the 10....he totally bottled up the NYJ's...he was responsible for the win.... to his horrid season he had last year.... an enigma...

I just hope that he can recover....

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Idiot Fan's picture

March 18, 2016 at 10:18 am

One of the Packer papers had a story in the last few months about how Zook asked Masthay to sacrifice some gross distance for a better net punting average, and Masthay took one for the team and did so. The net result was the best NET punting season average for the Packers EVER. And after all, isn't net more important than gross? Sure, having some good punt coverage from Janis and company helped, and yes, the shanks are unfortunate. But again, the punting unit just had the best Packer season ever. Why change that?

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4EVER's picture

March 18, 2016 at 12:38 pm

"I mentioned field position earlier and not only was Masthay in the bottom third of punters for the last three seasons, but he's also had one of the lowest total of kicks inside the 20 over the last two years. I won't get into net yardage because a lot of that has to do with coverage, which Masthay isn't directly responsible for but those line drives don't give his gunners a fighting chance to get to the ball carrier before the ball does. Thank goodness for Jeff Janis, the wonder boy gunner this past season, right?"

Net yardage is all about between the 20 yard markers...but the focus here is his lack of production flipping field position - outside the twenties. Bombs out of the end zone and accuracy inside the 10. Hence, this article...

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Idiot Fan's picture

March 18, 2016 at 01:48 pm

"I won't get into net yardage because a lot of that has to do with coverage, which Masthay isn't directly responsible for..."

Hearing Zook talk, it sounds like Masthay is very responsible for this, or at least contributes significantly to it. Perhaps part of the reason why Janis is always there when the returner catches the ball is because Masthay is punting higher and shorter than before, with the end result being a better net. Perhaps he could improve inside the 20, but this is definitely not the dumpster fire that many are making it out to be. Zook sounded very pleased with Masthay's performance.

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marpag1's picture

March 18, 2016 at 04:18 pm

Spot on, Idiot Fan. I'm always amazed that more people don't get this.

Last year Masthay was mediocre in net average... 14th in the league. That's not setting the world on fire, but people who rant about how bad he sucks seem to be missing this. Masthay gave up the LOWEST number of average return yards in the league last year at 4.2 return yards per kick. That's half of the league average of 8.4. The longest punt return that Green Bay allowed was 23 yards (only five teams did better). Also GB did not give up a punt return TD. So he's OK. Not great, but OK.

What really annoys me is when I hear some Packer fans whining, "Why, oh why did we ever let Jon Ryan get away to Seattle?? Curse that evil Ted Thompson!" Um..... maybe it's because Ryan's net average was 29th in the league and he gave up a whopping 13.3 return yards on average, the most of any punter in the NFL? Or maybe because Masthay's career net average is BETTER than Ryan's?

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4EVER's picture

March 25, 2016 at 10:40 am

I'm confused; know one here ever whined or stated that Tim wasn't just an OK punter, because that is what he is, just OK. O

I'll clarify...

The article even states that it isn't about net yardage, "I won't get into net yardage". Specifically, because net yardage, and return yardage has a lot to do with the coverage. Again, the focus is on his, just OK and poor, field position and inside the 20 numbers. Where the facts show Tim is well below average. Hence the article...

On a personal point - Tim surely doesn't pass the eye or clutch tests. It's a rarity; for him to bomb one out of our end of the field or drop one in approaching the 10 yard line. These are the facts!

His post season numbers are below average also, not that there's enough data to make it scientific, since it's one, two and gone.

Green Bay Packers
Post season nuggets
Punts = 8
Net Avg = 38.4
Long = 55
Inside the 20 = 1
Returned = 2
Return yards = 17

Super Bowl *****WINNER***** Denver Broncos
Post season numbers:
Rank = 1
Name = Britton Colquitt
Team = DEN
Punts = 23
Total yardage = 1,072
Net yards = 982
Long = 57
Avg = 46.6
Net Avg = 42.7
Blocked = 0
Out of Bounds = 4
Downed = 2
INSIDE THE 20 = ****** 9 ******
TOUCHBACK = ****** 1 ******
Fair Caught = 5
Returned = 11
Return yards = 70
Touchdowns = 0

And what really annoys me is when mediocre, just OK, Packer fans...exposing themselves...so, nasty back at ya!!

Dudes the article is fair...!!!!

UPDATE: Tim Masthay doesn't make the top 32, I repeat, doesn't make the top 32 list...!
New Orleans replacement punter for 2 games does though! I take it back, Tim is not just OK, he sucks dirt!

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2623989-br-nfl-1000-ranking-the-top-3...

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jasonperone's picture

March 18, 2016 at 09:00 pm

This was one of those pieces I wrote with more of an opinion slant and to foster the ensuing discussion. It has not disappointed, fair or not!

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Idiot Fan's picture

March 19, 2016 at 01:38 pm

1. "know one here ever whined or stated that Tim wasn't just an OK punter, because that is what he is, just OK"

Seriously? People around here talk as if he's the suckiest bunch of suck that ever sucked suck.

2. "It's a rarity; for him to bomb one out of our end of the field"

The fact that the coaches are instructing him to not try to bomb it deep could have something to do with this.

3. If you're going to quote numbers from some random other punter, don't pick Denver. I could kick 70-yard punts in Denver. That's comparing one of the easiest and one of the hardest places to punt.

4. "And what really annoys me is when mediocre, just OK, Packer fans...exposing themselves...so, nasty back at ya!!"

I don't really know what this means but.....ok.

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Packer_Pete's picture

March 18, 2016 at 10:27 pm

First of all what's up with the Carlos Valderrama avatar? ...

Second, you are right. We just never know what the coaches ask of the players, and I take a higher net way over a higher gross...

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Point-Packer's picture

March 18, 2016 at 11:47 am

Mastshank.

If Ted had his head on straight, this guy would have been kicked to the curb prior to last year.

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4thand1's picture

March 18, 2016 at 04:05 pm

if the coaches want him, he will stay.

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Amanofthenorth's picture

March 18, 2016 at 05:40 pm

There s a new generation of punters and they are weapons. If you remember that kid from the Dallas game, Hyde had all he could do just to catch one of his punts as he was running out of bounds. I was so impressed I checked his stats. He was number two in the nfl.
I rarely howl, but this position needs to be upgraded.

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Packer_Pete's picture

March 18, 2016 at 10:41 pm

They had an aussie style kicker in camp. He just never got a fair shot. I've always felt that aussie style kickers with their weirdly spinning balls have a great advantage...

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GBeletech's picture

March 18, 2016 at 09:18 pm

Just checked out Draft Central. Why no punters?

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Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

March 18, 2016 at 09:23 pm

Something that hasn't been mentioned...Masthay is probably the best tackling punter in the league. Still he need to go away.

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Packer_Pete's picture

March 18, 2016 at 10:43 pm

Funny you say that. I've always felt crosby sometimes forgets he's a kicker and tackles well actually... Maybe we've the best tackling P and K combination in the NFL LOL

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Clay Zombo's picture

March 18, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Just hope if he sticks around he can bounce back and improve like Crosby did, after a miserable season in which we all called for his head at one point or another.

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