What a debut season for Detroit Lions punter Jack Fox.
After a tight position battle in training camp with Arryn Siposs to win Detroit's punting job, Fox made his first start Week 1 vs. Chicago with a 49.3 punting average on four punts, a 49.3 net average, and he dropped two punts inside the 20-yard line. Not many people outside of maybe Fox and the Lions thought that performance Sept. 13 at Ford Field was just the beginning of what would become a Pro Bowl season for Fox.
He finished the season third in the league with a 49.1 punting average and second with a 44.8 net-punting average. The net average is a new Lions record. Fox joined tight end T.J. Hockenson and center Frank Ragnow as Detroit's representatives to the Pro Bowl in the NFC.
What should have Lions fans even more excited when it comes to Fox and his future with the Lions is that he thinks there's still a lot of room for improvement.
"I think we had a good year on the punt team, but I think I left a few yards out there. I think I left some meat on the bone," Fox said this week. "There's a bunch of different aspects of punting I have plenty of room to get better at and that's kind of my focus this offseason."
Punters and kickers usually want to hit their peak right at the start of the season, which is why teams typically bring in a second kicker and punter in camp to keep legs fresh. But due to Fox's competition with Siposs in camp, Fox had to come into camp at peak performance to win the job. The fact that he was able to sustain that throughout the whole season and not hit the rookie wall, is rather impressive.
Detroit finished third in the NFL in average yards allowed per punt return (5.5), thanks in big part to Fox's ability to hang the football up in the air and allow the coverage units to get down and cover kicks. Fox's average hang time of 4.58 seconds was second behind only Green Bay's JK Scott (4.62).
Fox is an exclusive rights free agent, which means the Lions control his contract rights for 2021. Fox plans to train in Alabama this offseason, just like he did last year, and he expects 2021 to be even better than 2020.