Jamie Gillan has not had a great year punting the ball for the Cleveland Browns and he needs to step up his game sooner rather than later.
Gillian is near the bottom of the board in nearly every punting metric, some by far. His average punt is 41.8 yards, which is the second-worst figure in the league. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 26th punter with a below-average grade of 54.3. Gillan also made some questionable decisions when faced with pressure, including an especially costly mistake in Week 1 against the Chiefs.
Gillan also ranks last — by far — in Expected Points Added (EPA), a stat tracked by Puntalytics.
Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski did not hold back when asked about Gillan and his play so far.
“Obviously, we want to punt better – that is no surprise,” Stefanski told reporters on Monday, October 11. “He needs to be better, and he knows that.”
Gillan won the job as an undrafted rookie 2019, beating out veteran incumbent Britton Colquitt. Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer defended Gillan before the game last week against the Chargers.
“He had the one mis-hit against Houston that worked out in our favor and set up a touchdown obviously,” Priefer told reporters. “Chicago, I think the first one was a mis-hit and he only had one other one. He had six second half punts. We only had five punts in three games, and we had seven in that game, six coming in the second half. That was going to be a field position battle in that second half, and I thought he came through for us.”
Gillan Was Remorseful Over Costly Week 1 Mistake
Gillan started to lose favor with the fans after fumbling a snap against the Chiefs in Week 1. He dropped the ball but it seemed like he still had time to get the punt off. Instead, he was tackled and Patrick Mahomes and Co. took over with a short field.
“I just dropped it. A massive mistake. I cost that game,” Gillan explained on September 17. “The whole point of our position is to be a weapon and to help out the team, and obviously, there I did not. Things happen, right? That has not changed my outlook in practice, my personality or anything. I am still this happy go lucky, likes a plant or two person. Just had a fun week, and to be honest with you, I am really happy this happened Week 1 – trying to find the silver lining in every cloud. It made it kind of like a reset button. I can’t punt the ball without catching it so I better catch it next time.”
That hasn’t earned him any favors with the Browns fan base. A poll run by ESPN Cleveland with more than 3,500 votes had 60 percent saying the Scottish Hammer should go.
“Small matter, but I hope the Browns are trying out punters on Monday morning,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Jamie Gillan is having a miserable year. When was the last time he had a coffin corner punt? He’s actually regressed from his rookie year.”
Browns Found a Gem in Chase McLaughlin
There was some uncertainty when Chase McLaughlin earned the kicking job out of camp, but he’s been stellar so far this season. He’s perfect this season, making all of his extra points and field goals, giving the Browns a reliable leg they have not had in the past. That includes a career-long 57 yarder against the Bears in Week 3.
“Having Stefanski have the trust in me to put me out there and just give me the opportunity, I am super thankful for it. I am glad I could make it for the team,” McLaughlin said after the game.
The Browns could be involved in a shootout on Sunday against the undefeated Cardinals, so the specialists better be ready when called upon to provide some momentum swinging plays.