The Jacksonville Jaguars have had one of the most stable special teams units over the last three years. Bryan Anger is a third-round draft pick with a strong leg who has never averaged less than 45.7 yards per punt in a season. Josh Scobee holds franchise records in points (1,022), field goals (234), and accuracy (81.0%).
So why am I writing this article?
You probably saw that I predicted that neither Scobee nor Anger would make the final 53-man roster. That's not because I don't think they're the favorites now. It's because I believe both to be trending downwards, and I think this preseason will force a decision for Gus Bradley and Dave Caldwell.
Let's start with Bryan Anger. Mike Kaye of FirstCoastNews.com pointed out something that was hiding in plain view about Anger -- while his average has stayed relatively strong, his net average has dropped each season he's been in the league. Net average is simply how far Anger has punted minus what the opposing returner gained.
Yes, he's got a strong leg, averaging 47.0 yards per punt through three years, but he's gone from 40.8 net yards per punt (2012) to 40.5 net yards per punt (2013) to 39.6 net yards per punt (2014). Have the Jaguars had problems on punt coverage? Absolutely. But their rosters (and by extension, coverage units) have gotten increasingly better in each of the last three seasons, while Anger's numbers have decreased.
His form is also a concern, and I believe led to more than one block last year by opponents. In short, I think he takes too many steps in his motion, and it led directly to a block against the Cincinnati Bengals last year.
Anger has been disappointing. Let's forget he was drafted with a third-round pick. His performance is declining and the Jaguars would save nearly $500,000 in cap space in cutting him.
As far as Scobee, his is less about performance and more about the money and his competition, backup kicker Jason Myers.
Not only will Scobee count for $3 million more against the cap than Myers, but Myers also has a strong leg, as evidenced by his field goals of more than 50 or 60 yards at training camp and in the Saturday night scrimmage.
Conversely, Scobee went 3-for-6 from 50 or more yards last year, his least efficient from that range since 2009 and tied for worst in his career.
But the field goal protection was poor last season, right? Yes, but not for the long-range kicks. The breakdowns in field goal protection weren't on field goals of 50 or more yards last year and none of Scobee's three misses were the fault of the blockers.
Here's Scobee's first attempt at a 50-yard field goal all year. No breakdown in protection, no opponent in his face. He just hits it wide.
This one hurt the most. With the Jaguars down 16-14 and 12 seconds left on the clock, Scobee hit it too low. The inside rusher got a hand on it and we lost a winnable game against the Titans.
Last game of the season, no real pressure as it was the middle of the game and the Jaguars and Texans were within a score of each other for most of the game. Scobee just misses wide left once again.
For the record, I think there's less chance Scobee is cut than Anger. Myers has impressed in training camp and in scrimmages, sure. But in a game? Nope.
But it's no longer a foregone conclusion that Scobee and Anger are on the team going forward. They're the favorites today, but there's legitimate competition at both of those spots.
I think Scobee is trending downward and he's realistically got a year or two left. That's why there's any discussion at all. You have a perfect storm of a young guy in Myers who would save millions against the cap who's kicking 60-yard field goals in camp next to a veteran in Scobee who's got one or two seasons left and is coming off his worst season when it came to kicking long-range field goals.