Schum Should Remain Packers Punter In 2017

Green Bay Packers punter Jacob Schum had quite an adventure in how he joined the team in 2016.  Schum was claimed by the Packers just prior to their fourth preseason game and after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released him.  Upon picking up Schum, the Packers released incumbent Tim Masthay after a shaky preseason and following a rough season in 2015.  

The move had many scratching their head as it threw Schum in as the unquestioned starter both as a punter and as holder for place kicker Mason Crosby.  At that point, many thought the Packers would have been safer going with Masthay and hoping he turned things around.  Masthay became the team's punter during the 2010 season and kicked well up until 2015 when his struggles seemed to migrate from his foot to his head.  That Masthay didn't catch on with another team in 2016 tells us the rest of the league must have felt similarly about him as the Packers did.

While completely different situations in terms of scope, we remember what happened with the quarterback position in 2013 when the team decided to part with Graham Harrell and B.J. Coleman at the end of the preseason and brought in veterans Seneca Wallace and Vince Young to compete for the back up job.  And of course, that ended up mattering as Wallace was given the job and Aaron Rodgers went down with a long-term collarbone injury.  Punters just need to be consistent and accurate.  Quarterbacks have to learn an entire play book.  But the quarterback snafu should still have served as a learning lesson to general manager Ted Thompson.

Schum struggled early on leaving many to say "I told you so" over the team's decision to go with the unproven guy versus the guy they knew.  Many were worried as those struggles by Schum came during the good weather portion of the schedule.  The thought of him kicking in colder and more extreme conditions later in the season gave many, well, the chills.  Somehow, Schum was able to stabilize himself and kicked better as the season wore on, defying the idea that bad weather would only further amplify his struggles.

In terms of stats, Schum wasn't great in 2016 but he wasn't terrible.  His 39.1 yard net average ranked him 24th of all kickers.  Schum kicked just 56 times last season while many other punters posted totals in the 80's and 90's.  The Packers offensive efficiency had a lot to do with that lower punt total.  Schum tied Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee for 27th with 19 punts inside the opponent 20-yard line.  McAfee was regarded as one of the league's better punters before announcing his retirement recently.  

As a holder, Schum didn't make many headlines.  Crosby had another strong season and didn't appear to be shaken by the loss of his usual running mate late in the summer.

Schum's numbers aren't flashy, but they're still good enough that the Packers should at least have him penciled in as the starter in 2017.  One less area to worry about using a draft pick on.  Thompson may decide to add an undrafted punter to come in and push Schum in camp, but he should get every opportunity to keep his job.  

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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 (9)

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Lphill's picture

February 27, 2017 at 07:11 am

Still 24 out of 32 should raise some concerns . Yes he punted fewer than others which means we really need him to produce what ever chance he gets.

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mnklitzke's picture

February 27, 2017 at 08:06 am

You keep him and bring in another punter to make him earn it... Got got to figure this punter thing out....

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Since'61's picture

February 27, 2017 at 08:46 am

Keep Schum he punted well in the cold weather and the playoffs. He was an effective holder for Crosby as well. Bring in some competition during the camp and see how it plays out. Thanks, Since '61

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Savage57's picture

February 27, 2017 at 08:51 am

It's a position that begs for legs to show up as camp meat and let 'em sort it out.

Schum should spend late July and August looking over his shoulder.

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Ferrari Driver's picture

February 27, 2017 at 11:13 am

The only fair way I can think of the evaluate Schum is to compare his kicks against the opponents kicker game for game.

Kickers who punt half of their games indoors such as the Lions' kicker and others such as the Bucs's kicker who has a warmer climate have an advantage over the Green Bay and Chicago kickers who kick in less than ideal conditions, especially during the latter half of the season.

As a casual fanI don't have those statistics nor have the time to research the data, but perhaps the author of this article, Jason Perone, has them or may be interested in acquiring that information and presenting it.

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Point-Packer's picture

February 27, 2017 at 04:16 pm

Not sure I agree. He came up short with some real bad shanks at real bad times this season. And those overall stats don't paint a that great of a picture. Bring in a guy to compete, at the very least.

Whatever GB does, it shouldn't draft a punter in the third round. A la the great Mike Sherman. (idiot).

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lou's picture

February 27, 2017 at 05:56 pm

Everyone has a few shanks but he had far less than Masthay and not at as critical times in the game. There was no comparison in regards to keeping the ball inside the red zone, he far outshown Masthay in directional and placement (pooch punting). He was more consistent as well, Masthay each year in the playoffs was outkicked by the opponents punter, Schum was as steady as he had been all season in the playoffs. In addition besides being a competent placement holder for Crosby he is a much better athlete than Masthay in regards of handling bad snaps and based on his build if he has to run or is called to on a fake it looks like he could take a hit much better. This was a solid move that overall upgraded the punting game and he is young enough to continue to progress.

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Seth Borden's picture

February 28, 2017 at 07:33 am

I saw nothing in Schum's performance that would make me take P off the list of needs. He may wind up the Pack's punter in 2017. But there is NO reason not to bring in competition -- whether drafted, undrafted or FA -- in search of better.

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lou's picture

February 28, 2017 at 09:04 am

I have no qualms with looking to improve at every position but my point was he was an upgrade to Masthay who to my knowledge did not even get a tryout after the Packers cut him loose which is very telling.

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