Consistent AJ Cole, Punt Return game key to Raiders success
The Punting Game
Davante Adams and Darren Waller have been bracketed in coverage on third down. Derek Carr’s intended pass for Adams on a comeback is broken up and it’s now fourth down in your own territory. Some might panic, but if you’re LV, you know what’s good.
You know that you can count on fourth-year punter AJ Cole and his battery mate Trent Sieg.
In 2021, Cole averaged 50 yards per punt, an NFL-best. In several categories, he finished among the best last season: inside the 20 (5th, 28), longest punt (T-4th, 71 yards), total yards (7th, 3,202 yards). Cole has the leg to flip the field for his team and also put pressure on opposing offenses by making them play left-handed and shrinking their playbook by placing teams in difficult situations.
That’s where the biggest improvements can be made on this unit moving forward, the coverage aspect. Last season, LV’s punt unit finished 28th in punt return yards allowed with 341.
Improvement: It could be scheme, missed tackles, personnel issues, or all the above but whatever it is it must be fixed for LV to make a deep playoff push. Lower that return yardage number and Cole will continue to boom punts and if the coverage aspect can improve, this unit can be one of the best in the league.