Michael Dickson made the 2019 Pro Bowl but probably did not deserve to. I’ve covered this before. Seahawks fans liked their new punter; many seem to love general manager John Schneider and everything he does, and voting Dickson to the Pro Bowl simultaneously feted Dickson while doing much to justify drafting him in the fifth round. But, fact is, Seattle wasn’t actually deriving much value from its punt unit and good punters are widely available in free agency.
Dickson didn’t make the Pro Bowl last season and was not voted in this season either. Today undrafted free agent Jack Fox was named Pro Bowl punter for the NFC. Score another point for conventional wisdom, I guess. I don’t know if Fox is better than Dickson but I do know that now, seemingly uncool, Dickson is actually good.
Seattle added 4.28 expected points through punting against Washington. The Seahawks have added points in every game through punting, and while I think it’s typical for a team to add points through punting—these are only hypothetical points, mind you—the total number of points Dickson and Seattle’s coverage unit have added is pretty impressive. Seattle has added 11 field goals, or four touchdowns, a field goals and a safety, or really just 33.13 points punting this season. And the distribution is such that Seattle has often punted best when those [points] were most dear.
Seattle added 4.13 points punting against New England and won by five points. The Patriots started their final drive from within their 20 and ended it and the game at the Seahawks’ two. Dickson leads the NFL in punts which end inside the opponent’s 20. He has 27. Seattle added 4.95 in a seven-point win against Dallas and 3.57 in a one-point win against Minnesota. I won’t go Rick and Mharti on ya but of course we can’t know if those imaginary points of field position actually decided the game, but it seems likely that the field position created by Dickson and company was vital to Seattle winning many of its innumerable-many close games.
Dickson has a surprisingly high degree of control over where he punts the ball.
His best punt from Sunday was pure Vegemite on buttered toast. First, it confounds.
Washington returner Steven Sims can’t seem to track the punt veering bawways left.
Finally, it kills.
Cody Barton performs an interpretive dance entitled “The Ball Went Out Right Here.”
That punt is worth about one point of field position. Dickson had one more worth roughly the same, one worth about half a point, and one worth almost two. The last was also worth about 5% win probability. To be perfectly frank, it was better coverage than punt, but when the punter makes the Pro Bowl, the coverage unit surely feels part of the pride. I mean, looking at Barton swaggering up there.
It surprises me that Seattle fans didn’t vote Dickson in this year.
Seahawks fans are unusually passionate and tech-savvy. This can lead to strange results whenever a contest is determined by online voting. Some 12 years ago I was actually accused of “ballot stuffing” by Aaron Schatz of Football Outsiders because of aggressive voting by the Field Gulls community. It seems a “zillion” people felt very strongly that Brandon Mebane was the most underrated defensive player of 2008.
I’m not saying Dickson was snubbed by all voters because Fox is arguably better but Dickson was definitely snubbed by Seahawks voters. Where were we? Guy’s been excellent and was integral to several wins. Where were all the ballot stuffers when Dicko needed em?
Anyway congrats to Tyler Ott for recognition of his steady snapping. Congrats to Nick Bellore who’s been a tackling machine. And hell of damn job Seahawks special teams!