BGA Nano: Is Chris Bryan Any Good?

This doesn’t qualify as a full BGA, but I’m going to put together some quick research to try and determine how the punter the Jets just signed fared last season.

On the face of it, Chris Bryan did not have a good season last year. The 6-5 former Australian Football League player lasted just four games before being cut and had the lowest gross average in the NFL for anyone who punted more than five times. However, I noticed that nine of his 22 punts landed inside the 20, with no touchbacks, so that might have skewed the numbers.

You may recall that I wrote about Steve Weatherford in May and devised a statistic that was a more accurate measure of punting performance. On the ANPP scale, a score of 60% or less would be poor, 70% or more would be elite and everything else in between is a realistic scale on which to judge punters.

There’s a reminder of how ANPP is calculated and the results for Bryan after the jump.

Adjusted Net Punt Percentage (ANPP) is the statistic I’ve invented to evaluate punters statistically. Each net punt can expressed as a percentage of the amount of yards to the opposition endzone. Therefore, if you are at the 50 yard line and the punt is downed at the five, that’s 90%. If the punt went for a touchback, that would only be 60%. If the punt was returned to the 40, then that would only be 20%. You could have a negative percentage for an individual punt, but the overall numbers for a season will give a good indication of the punter’s performance.

The reason why it’s Adjusted Net Punt Percentage rather than just Net Punt Percentage is that I’ve limited the maximum expected yards to 65 yards. If I didn’t do that, then a 45 yard net punt from the ten yard line (not bad) would only score the same as a 25 yard punt from the 50 yard line (awful). Now it will score the same as a 35 yard punt from the 50 (70%). This ensures the result is a percentage of a reasonable maximum. Of course, this could lead to a single punt percentage of over 100% but all that means is that the expected maximum has been exceeded.

Bryan’s Performance

In Week One, Bryan’s ANPP was an acceptable 63%. He followed that up with a very strong 78% in his second game. After that he had two sub-par games (54% in Week Three and 58% after the bye) before losing his job. Overall, his ANPP for the year was 63% which puts him exactly halfway in between the two ends of the punting scale – Matt Dodge (58%) and Shane Lechler (68%).

Bryan’s 63% was actually better than any Jets punter managed in 2008 and only 1% lower than Steve Weatherford posted in 2009. Weatherford did raise that to 68% in the regular season in 2010, but dropped to 55% in the postseason.

Conclusions

Recognizing that this is a very small sample size, it does seem like, on the basis of the numbers, the Bucs may have jumped the gun to let Bryan go. He wasn’t particularly good, but didn’t necessarily fall below the level at which punters might typically lose their jobs.

When taking into consideration the fact that it was Bryan’s rookie year, perhaps there’s some hope that he can challenge TJ Conley in camp and may yet master the art of being an NFL punter. If not, I’m sure somebody will get cut by a team with two decent punters.