It’s probably not a stretch to say the Detroit Lions special teams group is the best in the NFL at the moment and on a serious hot streak.
A day after kicker Matt Prater claimed the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week Award, punter Jack Fox was named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Month. It’s the first time in history a Lions punter has won the award, and the first time an NFC punter has won the award in their first month since Chris Kluwe in 2005.
The only other Lions to win a POTM award in their 1st season were B. Sanders & T. Fair.
— Detroit Lions PR (@LionsPR) October 1, 2020
Detroit’s other players to win the award? Barry Sanders and Terry Fair, who were pretty good on special teams in their career, giving Fox some excellent company.
Thus far, it isn’t a stretch to say the Lions have solved their punting problems with the big leg of Fox booming their kicks. This award is a major feather in the cap of the Lions and their young punter early in 2020.
Jack Fox Rated NFL’s Best Punter
Not only is the kicking elite for the Lions, but the punting as well. Fox has been dominant thus far for the Lions, and he is far and away the best punter in the league so far according to Pro Football Focus metrics. A recent look at those metrics found Fox essentially running away with the top punter title early on in the 2020 season.
From Practice Squad to No. 1 in the NFL (by a wide margin), #Lions Punter Jack Fox has seen his first NFL action in 2020 and is off to a pretty good start
Highest Punting Grade in 2020:
1. DET Jack Fox, 91.5
2. MIA Matt Haack, 74.4
3. GB J.K. Scott, 72.7#OnePride
— PFF DET Lions (@PFF_Lions) September 24, 2020
Fox has shown off in a big way this season with leg strength as well as accuracy. Against the Arizona Cardinals, his punt pinned the team deep in their own territory late which allowed Detroit a chance to flip field position and eventually tie the game. Fox nearly had another superb pin, but Detroit’s gunner was ruled to have been in the end zone, nullifying the kick.
Fox has been everything a young punter needs to be, and hasn’t shown any jitters at all with the leg, which has been amazing to note. Certainly, the Lions are in good hands with Fox and Prater doing their kicking.
Matt Prater Takes Home NFC Kicking Award
This week, Prater was named the NFC’s Special Teams Player of the Week for his kicking exploits against the Arizona Cardinals. Prater was 4-4 in the game on kicks, including the game winning 39 yard field goal which sailed through the uprights with exactly no time remaining on the clock and provided the Lions a 26-23 win.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) September 30, 2020
This season, Prater has struggled the first few weeks from long distance missing a few field goals from 55 yards and beyond. Even in spite of that, he has managed to remain consistent with regards to shorter field goals as well as extra points. In this game, he managed to once again look like one of the best weapons in the league.
It is the 11th time in Prater’s career he has been given this award, including the 6th time in his Detroit career.
Analyst Predicted Jack Fox Winning Job
A few months back when the punting battle was sorting itself out, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press explained Fox was signed to the roster and was set to square off in a punting battle to see who has the upper hand to taking over the role. At that point, Fox was seen as the guy to beat according to Birkett.
Here’s a look at what he said about that:
“Fox had a strong showing at the East-West Shrine all-star game a year ago, but went undrafted out of Rice. He signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent, was briefly on their practice squad during the season and impressed the Lions with a late-season workout in Allen Park.
Fox may be good enough that the Lions don’t need to draft a punter this offseason, like they did with Martin in 2013. He can kick off, he handled long field goals in college, and he enters spring as the favorite to replace Martin, who took a pay cut before last season in exchange for having his contract reduced by a year.”
While playing for Rice, Fox piled up 9,167 punting yards in a 4 year career. He can also kick in an emergency role, as he made 38 of 39 extra points in his career and was 5-12 on field goals. Obviously, with a leg like that, the Lions could ask him to be a kickoff specialist as well. They haven’t done that, but Fox’s leg is certainly showing the power that it did in college.
Fox didn’t hang around the NFL for long last offseason, but has quickly shown why the Lions elected to keep him around when all was said and done. It’s looking like a mistake that others passed on him.
With Fox booting the ball so well, the Lions have a player who they can count on now locking down the punter spot for the foreseeable future.
It’s nice to see him take home a well deserved honor for his work.