The NFL is unpredictable. More times than not the best players in this league are those we can rely on. For the past few seasons, Brandon Fields has been that player for the Miami Dolphins. Since entering the league as a rookie in 2007, Fields has started every game at punter for the ‘Phins (96 starts). He has been the lone starter at his position for a reason: he performs consistently at a high level.
In his 6 seasons in this league, Fields has punted 450 balls for 20,893 yards and an average of 46.4 yards per punt. He has a long of 71 yards and has only had 2 punts blocked throughout his career.
Fields is also coming off his best season. His stat-line for the 2012 season was as follows: 74 punts for 3715 yards (12th in league), longest punt of 67 yards (tied 12th), average of 50.2 yards per punt (1st in league), net of 41. 2 yards per punt (6th in league) and 9 touchbacks (tied 1st in league). As you can see, Fields was top 15 in all the major punting categories, and finished the league’s best in two categories, more than any other punter in the NFL last year.
Many fans would consider it an issue to have their punter as one of their more consistent players. However, I see it as a blessing. There are three phases of American Football: offense, defense, and special teams. Games often come down to that missed field goal from a reasonable distance (insert Dan Carpenter reference here) or the kick returner who beat a team by himself with 2 return touchdowns in a row (Ted Ginn Jr. anyone?). While they are often overlooked, punters are a significant part of this crucial 3rd phase. And there are few more consistent punters out there than Brandon Fields. How many times last year did he flip the field with one powerful stroke of his cannon-leg? How many times did the ball shoot off the top of your TV screen, only to leave you wondering if it was ever coming down? How many times did he pin the other team deep in their own territory at a crucial stage of a close game? These instances often go unnoticed when the game ends, but they are vital to a team’s success.
I think we can continue to see excellence from Fields in the upcoming season and future. His rare consistency is a breathe of fresh air on a team that has struggled to play consistent football for the duration of a season. Hopefully, Fields will rarely be used this year. Ideally, his services will only be needed once, maybe twice a game. But, should he be called on, I am sure he will rise to the occasion. Like farmers have been doing for years, Dolphins fans can expect another great harvest from Brandon Fields.