The selections for the 2019 Pro Bowl, as voted upon by fans, players and coaches, were announced Tuesday. Somewhat surprisingly, Redskins punter Tress Way was not among them. Way was named an alternate, so there’s a chance he could join teammates Trent Williams and Ryan Kerrigan in Orlando next month, but only if the NFC’s starting punter, Seattle’s Michael Dickson, drops out because of injury or because the Seahawks make the Super Bowl.
Dickson is the first rookie punter to be named to the Pro Bowl since the Los Angeles Rams' Dale Hatcher in 1985, and he is plenty deserving. The Australian leads the league in gross punting average (48.9 yards) and net punting average (44.2), and he is the reigning NFC special teams player of the month after averaging 53 yards on 16 punts in November. Way is enjoying a similarly fantastic season in his fifth year with the Redskins. By some measures, he has been even more impressive than Dickson, looking like Ray Guy (or Tiger Woods) in his prime.
“He’s starting to show off a little bit,” Redskins Coach Jay Gruden said after Way placed four punts inside the 20-yard line in a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last month. “He’s just dropping the ball, pinpointing balls at the 3-, 4-yard line and our guys, our gunners, don’t even have to down them. They are back-spinning, and he looks like he’s hitting soft 9-irons into the Masters ninth green for goodness sakes.”
Way has been punting with pin-seeking precision all season. Here is a by-the-numbers look at his Pro Bowl-worthy year:
Punts, tied for fifth-most in the league.
Touchbacks, the fewest in the league among players who have punted at least 10 times. Since 1991, when the NFL first started tracking touchbacks, two punters have gone an entire season without punting the ball into the end zone (minimum 10 attempts). Minnesota’s Ryan Quigley did it last year, punting 71 times without a touchback.
The only other player to accomplish the feat was the Redskins' Sav Rocca, who punted 84 times without a touchback in 2013. Neither Quigley nor Rocca made the Pro Bowl. (Rocca’s other numbers, including a league-worst 16.8 yards per return on his punts, weren’t so hot, and he was released after the season.) Meanwhile, Way has never finished a season with fewer than four touchbacks, which is how many Dickson has this year.
Dec. 17, 2017
The date of Way’s last touchback, in Week 15 of last season.
Punts downed inside the 20, the most in the league. Cleveland’s Britton Colquitt and Jacksonville’s Logan Cooke are tied for the second-most punts inside the 20 with 32 on 77 and 72 attempts, respectively. Dickson has placed 26 punts inside the 20 on 68 attempts. In their touchback-free seasons, Quigley and Rocca placed 29 and 26 punts inside the 20, respectively.
Punts downed inside the 5, including two on Sunday against Jacksonville.
Yards per punt, 16th-best in the league.
Net punting average, 10th-best in the league.
Average starting field position for Washington’s opponents, according to Football Outsiders. The Redskins' foes have had the fourth-worst starting field position this season, behind Kansas City, Houston and Seattle.
The last season a Redskins punter made the Pro Bowl, when Matt Turk made his third consecutive appearance. Before that, Reggie Roby represented the Redskins in the Pro Bowl after the 1994 season.
Trivia board games promoted on ESPN’s “Monday Night Countdown.” Way shared the story behind “What’s Your Bid?”, the team trivia game he created last year, before placing two punts inside the 20 in Washington’s loss to the Eagles in Week 13.
The final score of Oklahoma’s win over Texas in the Big 12 championship game, which avenged the Sooners' only loss of the season and effectively punched their ticket to the College Football Playoff. Way is a proud Oklahoma alum. Dickson went to Texas. In other words, despite missing out on the Pro Bowl, life could be a lot worse for the Redskins' football-booming Sooner.
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