For all the arguments centered around players like Dak Prescott and Jaylon Smith, the Dallas Cowboys’ biggest weakness in 2019 was their special teams unit.
Dallas was 30th in special teams DVOA in 2019, above only the Panthers and Chargers. Rarely did they provide their offense with short fields, and too often they committed costly mistakes which put either their offense or defense behind the eight ball.
In the middle of all of these special teams struggles was veteran punter Chris Jones. Jones has been the Cowboys starting punter since 2013, and while he was effective for much of his time in Dallas, the numbers suggest his better days are behind him.
Jones’ average punt has been at least 44 yards his entire career, but that dipped down to 41 yards last season. His long in 2019 was 58 yards, a dip from the 63-66 yard range the previous three seasons. Many, including fellow staff writer Jess Haynie, have argued it’s time for the Cowboys to move on from Chris Jones, but his team friendly contract makes that a bit unlikely.
As Jess noted, most punters make far more annually than Jones, and the Cowboys have gotten a bargain on Jones throughout the year. Recently, though, he’s been performing how you’d expect someone with his cap hit to perform.
Now, there may be hope for Chris Jones in Dallas after all. Dallas hired former Rams special teams coordinator John Fassel this offseason, hoping to bolster what was one of the league’s worst units a year ago. Fassel has had great success in this role before, finishing top 10 in special teams DVOA 5 of his 8 seasons with the Rams.
Where LAR’s STs have finished in DVOA under the tutelage of John Fassel: 2012 (1st year with Rams): 26th 2013: 4th 2014: 7 2015: 7 2016: 3 2017: 2 2018: 17 2019: 23 https://t.co/6gtVdCT24l
Fassel also loves to run fake punts, something we’ve seen Chris Jones excel at every once in a while for the Cowboys. You shouldn’t decide who your punter is based on their fake punt ability, but who knows, Fassel may like Jones’ athleticism.
Regardless of whether Fassel has the magic dust to save Jones’ career or not, the Cowboys would be smart to bring in some competition at punter during training camp.
There’s a chance that we never see the 2016 version of Chris Jones again, and Dallas must be prepared for that scenario.