On Thursday and Friday Eddie Johnson was in Scottsdale, Arizona for some combination One on One Punting and Kickoff Lessons.
Eddie who had been in Phoenix a couple of months ago called me out of the blue to say hi and mentioned he had seen my website. Eddie and I have know each other for a couple of years but I have never really coached him. A couple of years ago Eddie came to our River Falls Kicking Camp and he worked one year as an instructor. During those three days we got to know each other a little better.
Now, three or four years later Eddie is 27 years old and still in great shape. He's about 6'2, 225 pounds and a strong legged combination punter/kickoff man.
Eddie had a dream to be an NFL punter and still wants to pursue that dream. After working with him for two days he definitely has the talent. The question will be if someone will give him another chance.
For some reason NFL Personnel Director's think punters are only good when there in their early 20's. I can speak from personal experience. When I was 27 I was doing a Kicking Camp for Ray Guy in Marion Alabama. Several people marveled how good I was punting and said you have the talent to punt in the NFL. My answer was yeah, but nobody will give me a chance at my age.
I believe through the years the philosophy has changed. Several punters and kickers are now breaking into the league at an older age. It's call maturing. It takes time to make good wine and it also takes time to develop a quarterback, kicker or punter.
On Thursday we had our first One on One Lesson. Eddie went through his warm ups and several drills. I asked him to not only explain why he did certain drills but also to give me his thoughts during certain parts of the lesson. I need feedback and background information to make the proper adjustments and refinements.
Eddie hit some big hang times punts but also shanked a couple. Like most punters looking for a job the key word is 'consistency'.
In the first lesson I observed, analyzed and took notes. I was trying to figure out what adjustment I could make to help this talented young man get more consistent.
After the first lesson we went back to my office to review the video tape. I pointed out two or three things to Eddie that I felt might be causing him to be a little inconsistent. Eddie hit some big punts but fired a couple of stray bullets off to the right and left. A stray bullet is a 'shank'!
The video review made everything crystal clear for Eddie. I pointed out his flaws and he shook his head confirming the observations.
The corrections were not big adjustments. I told Eddie I wanted time to think and come up with a game plan to help him.
Correction: Tilt the nose of the ball inwards just slightly!
Above: Eddie worked the One Step Drill without cheating.
Eddie's Handling times the 1st day were slow = 1.4's & 1.5's
During Friday's One on One Punting Lesson I took Eddie through a progression of drills that I designed specifically for him. We video taped the drills and teaching points so Eddie had something to take home as a constant reminder.
I emphasized getting rid of the drills that caused him bad muscle memory and to do only drills that had positive carry over value to his punting technique.
The package I put together seemed to help him during Friday's One on One Lesson. Eddie hit a bunch of excellent punts and never once 'shanked' a punt. He hit some excellent hang times and directional punts.
The best thing about Eddie's punting on Friday was that he hit all those good punts with much better handling times. We got ride of all the unnecessary movements and refined his catching and molding technique. His handling times on Friday were 1.25 to 1.35.
I believe Eddie was very pleased with the results of his visit to Scottsdale.
We finished the second day of One on One Lessons working on kickoffs. When Eddie came out of Idaho State in 2003 he was known for his punting and kickoff ability. He impressed me with the power he had on his kickoffs. Eddie was hitting his kickoffs to or in the end zone. 'Impressive'! Eddie wanted to worked on a system for him to directional kickoff and we achieved this goal.
After working with Eddie for two days he definitely has the talent to be an NFL punter. As I mentioned earlier, will some team give him another chance? Only time will tell.
I told Eddie to go back to Orange County were he lives and to practice what he had learned for two to three weeks and then give me another call. If Eddie can become a more consistent punter he will impress scouts and Special Teams Coaches.
My advice to Eddie was in golf terminology. Take the driver out of your bag and use a three wood. You don't just want to win the long drive contest but you want to be playing on the weekends. John Daley hits a big ball but look were he is at on Sundays.
Bottom line, if Eddie or anyone wants to play in the NFL on Sundays you need to punt with a three wood mentality. Impress people with a driver but play the game with a three wood. You'll stick around a lot longer.
Just a note to my above analogy: Unless your Tiger Woods!