ITP Glossary: Open Field Punt

Football is littered with specialized terminology. From skip step to shield punt formation, commentators rarely get to explain everything you need to know before the next play. Inside The Pylon’s glossary was developed to give fans a deeper understanding of the game through clear explanations, as well as image and video examples. Please contact us with any terms or phrases you’d like to know more about.

Open Field Punt

An open field punt occurs when the line of scrimmage on a punt is between a team’s own goal line and its 40-yard line. Open field punts typically prioritize maximum distance in order to change field position and prevent an opponent from starting with a short field. While directional punting may be used by teams in some open field scenarios, many teams will abandon or reduce their directional strategy during situations close to their goal line and focus solely on distance.

Open-field situations are one of the best measures of a punter’s true leg strength, as gross punting average can be distorted by field position if a punter has a disproportionate number of attempts in pin deep situations. In recent years, the NFL-average punt in open-field situations has generally been between 47 and 48 yards per punt. Tennessee Titans punter Brett Kern led the league in 2015 with an open-field average of 51.6 yards, while Arizona Cardinals punter Drew Butler brought up the rear with an average of just 43.7 yards. 

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Chuck Zodda wrote this entryFollow Chuck on Twitter @ITP_ChuckZ.

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