Positional Reviews: Let's Talk Kickers ... Or, Matt Dodge You Should Stop Reading Now

Here you are on a sleepy Sunday morning, looking forward to rooting for the New England Patriots (at least I am) as they try to pound the New York Jets into submission -- and the off-season. And I do this to you.

What is this, you ask? Well, you should have figured it out by now simply from the headline. We are going to continue our series of New York Giants positional reviews by talking about kickers. Yep, that means Matt Dodge and Lawrence Tynes are on today's menu.

So, let's get right to it.

Matt Dodge

Average: 44.7 yards per punt (8th among kickers who spent the entire year with their teams)
Net Average: 34.8 yards (27th in the league)
Inside 20: Twenty-three (19th in the league)
Return Yards: 536 (only Nick Harris of Detroit gave up more)
Fair catches: Seven (tied for worst in the league)
Pro Football Focus Rating: -3.8, 27th in the league (only Chicago's Brad Maynard, at an awful -11.8, was worse).

Everybody has an opinion on Dodge, and those opinions are all over the map. Just like Dodge's punts were during his rookie season. The rookie punter will forever be linked to the Philadelphia debacle. It will be difficult to soon forget him dropping snaps from center twice this season. The plethora of ugly-looking, low, short punts he hit this season are also burned into our brains like a migraine headache that won't go away.

Yet, there is a lot to like about the 2010 seventh-round pick from East Carolina -- provided you can get past your disgust every time you think about DeSean Jackson running back that fated punt. There is a reason why Tom Coughlin and the Giants stuck with Dodge through all of his troubles, especially early in the season when no one could be sure Dodge would ever begin to resemble an NFL punter.

The guy has a ton of talent, as evidenced by the 44.7-yard average on his punts. As the season went along, we saw more and more boomers and fewer and fewer of those punts that looked sort of misfires.

Former Giants punter Jeff Feagles thinks the team will stick with Dodge, though, and he thinks the young punter will end up rewarding their faith.

"Well, you got to now," Feagles said. "He is probably going to have to compete this year in training camp. He didn't have anybody competing with him last year and I think he will win out and I think he will be fine.

"I didn't think that he would have that much trials and tribulations. One thing he is going to have to learn is put it all behind him, build on it, learn from those experiences and go into training camp and try to forget them. Your sophomore year in the NFL is not easy either.

"I just think that his mistakes overshadowed [his improvement]. The consistency was always there when I was punting and when you see the inconsistency all the time it is a little bit kind of like, 'Whoa! What is going on with him?' But I saw strides and I think the Giants seem to think the same thing."

Grade: Kwillie

Lawrence Tynes

Field Goals: 18-of-21 (85.7 percent). That is good for ninth in the league among kickers who played at least 12 games this season. Tynes was 13-of-14 inside 40 yards and 2-of-3 outside 50 yards.
Touchbacks: Six (Tynes placed 20th among the 27 kickers using the 12-game standard).
Average Starting Position: Average field position surrenderedd by the Giants on kickoffs was the 26.3-yard line, placing Tynes 12th out of 28 kickers.
Pro Football Focus Rating: -4.0, 25th of 29 kickers in the league.

Those are all the numbers. To be honest, I am not sure how PFF ended up grading Tynes at -4.0 overall. I thought he had a perfectly acceptable season. Once the Giants removed Dodge from the holder role Tynes was terrific on field goals, making 16 of his last 17, including 15 in a row.

Some of you will still complain about Tynes' kickoffs, but I can't do it. He will rarely drive the ball deep into the end zone, but he did do a good job this season getting the ball down inside the 5-yard line regularly, getting good height on the ball and placing it where his coverage team expected it to be. Sure, it would be nice to have a boomer driving the ball through the end zone a couple of times every game, but Tynes was just fine in 2010.

Grade: Kudos

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