Patriots

Patriots player Jake Bailey has a career-lowest average yards per punt.

Jake Bailey has struggled this season.

Patriots player Jake Bailey didn’t have the kind of performance many would expect upon entering the season.

After signing a four-year, $13.5 million contract extension that made him one of the NFL’s highest-paid players in August, Bailey averaged 42.1 yards per punt. Not only is this the lowest tally in his four-year career, but he also ranks last among the 32 players who qualify in this statistic.

This is an alarming drop for the 25-year-old, who averaged 48.7 yards per push in 2020 when he was named a first-team All-Pro.

Bailey’s last punt before the Patriots’ farewell week was his worst yet. He cleared the ball out of bounds and just seven yards from the line of scrimmage.

Prior to Sunday’s game against the Jets, Bailey was listed as a questionable in the game due to a back injury. Even as Bailey struggles with injury, Patriots coach Bill Belichick has dropped his blunt assessment of his team’s punting performance this season.

“I mean it was good and then it wasn’t consistent,” Belichick said on Friday. “So it’s not that everything is bad, not that everything is good. It’s just – it’s inconsistent, so I think there are a lot of areas where we can improve, where we need to improve. But every person has to do – of course it starts with a specialist but there are other things we need to improve, punt team and kickoff range as well. Although I think he got off to a pretty good start this year.

Belichick shared what exactly Bailey can do to improve his hitting in the second half of the season.

“It’s like any tech thing, golf swing, player or whatever,” said Belichick. “There is mechanics, consistency and ex*cution. Again, there’s plenty of talent out there, and there was a bit of a rainbow there, as always. So work harder and try to make it more consistent. “

If Bailey can’t drive on Sunday, nine-year-old pro Michael Palardy will likely nod to the player. The Patriots acquired Palardy to their training roster in early November, marking the ninth NFL team he has played for in his career.

Belichick praised Palardy on Friday.

“He was a good player, a good athlete,” said Belichick. “High school quarterback, kicked, punched. It was good to have him here last week as we were getting ready [Colts punter Matt] hack.

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