In the rat race that is the Chicago Bears season, there is one guy that Bears fans hate to see on field. Brad Maynard. Of course, it means the Bears are punting and I, for one, have seen enough of him. The worst part is that quality of most of his punts has been awful. I know that distance doesn’t tell the whole story but he is averaging a career low 38.7 yards per punt, netting only 34.7 yards, both lingering near the bottom of the NFL. Also, keep in mind that 36 of his 47 punts have come from the Bears side of the 50. His below average numbers can only lead me to believe that at age 35, Brad is, well, getting old. And he’s going to need more than Dr. Scholls to fix the problem.
Maynard has been around the NFL for a long time, 14 years to be exact. And in that span, he has officially punted the ball 1,222 times for 51,231 yards, both ranking 4th all-time. That’s just over 29 miles of punts. He averages 90 punts a year and is on pace for 94 this season. While he has never missed a game, it appears to me that he has just about reached his punts per foot maximum. Maybe he needs to start using his left foot?
Say what you want about his directional kicking, which has been really good at times (like his punt that was downed at the Buffalo Bills 1 yard line with a minute to go in the 4th quarter last week), but those coffin corner punts seem too few and far between lately. Every time he boots one of his little rainbows, Bears opponents find themselves playing with a short field. Especially when he’s backed up in his own end, I haven’t seen him really boom one when he needed to.
I will admit that the Bears coverage team is not as good as it was in years past. However, they have only given up 5.5 yards per punt return. Yes, this could be a product of short punts, but Maynard’s long is only 50 yards. This mean if he punts from the Bears 30, the opponent will start at about their own 25 if he has his best punt of the season. Petty weak if you ask me. I think the Bears need to rely on the rest of their special teams players. Corey Graham has contributed with 13 special teams tackles and Brian Iwuh has made a career out of tackling punt returners.
The whole thing is cyclical. The Bears defense has been really good this year and have forced an NFC best 50 punts. However, those punts always seem to be from the opponents 40 or 50 yard line. So, after the punt, the Bears offense starts at the 10 or 15. As we know, the offense has struggled and often have a hard time getting a first down, which takes us back to Brad and his subpar punts from deep in Bears territory, giving opponents the ball around their own 40 or 50 yard line. So, the bad field position for the Bears offense appears to start and end with Brad and his limp leg. Even 41 year old Matt Turk has kicked a 60 yard punt this season, yet Brad can’t kick one over 50.
So, praise the Bears achilles heel all you want for his kicks inside the 20, but when the shoe is on the other foot and he’s punting from his own end zone, he’s hurting the team more than he is helping. Mr. Maynard, I appreciate all you have done, but I think after this year you should get yourself a pair of slippers and watch the Bears from home. And that’s what’s Drivin’ Deez Nuts this week.