Buffalo Bills punting battle is already over and here’s why

Matt Araiza, Buffalo Bills (Syndication: Democrat and Chronicle)
Matt Araiza, Buffalo Bills (Syndication: Democrat and Chronicle) /
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Buffalo Bills
Matt Araiza, Buffalo Bills (Photo by Joshua Bessex/Getty Images) /

Why is Araiza a roster lock?

The Buffalo Bills spent a draft pick on him and have shown that they do not often part ways with draft picks, even if they are late-round players. Also, in direct correlation to being drafted, Araiza’s competition Matt Haack was forced to take a pay cut to stay on the Bills roster and compete for a spot. Strictly off of team-building principles and the history of Brandon Beane, this all suggests Araiza will be the guy.

To put it in perspective how big Araiza’s leg is, the all-time leader in NFL history in average yards per punt is Shane Lechler, who averaged 47.6 yards per punt. At San Diego State, Araiza averaged 51.1 yards per punt. Araiza comes with a booming leg which routinely puts San Diego State’s opponents deep into their territory.

While Araiza’s leg is huge, he does sacrifice some pinpoint accuracy. Araiza’s numbers back it up as he led college football with 15 touchbacks last season. However, there are some positive traits to look at as simultaneously finished second in punts downed inside the 20 with 37 total.

Araiza is a strong fit in terms of what he brings to the table as a punter. Araiza will allow the Buffalo Bills to be more aggressive on offense for multiple reasons. First, when the Bills are in their end, they can worry less about field position because they have a guy who can unleash punts 70+ yards down the field.

While sustaining drives is essential, Araiza’s ability to flip the field can be used offensively to Buffalo’s advantage. This would still hold if Araiza kicked every ball for a touchback. If you could guarantee that the opposing team would start every drive at the 20-yard line, there is no doubt in my mind that coaches would relish that opportunity.

Where Araiza struggles will be with precision punting. The closer he gets to midfield and past, the less effective he will be as a punter. While this weakness may concern some, the Bills have weapons to combat this perfectly.

First, they have Tyler Bass, who has one of the NFL’s biggest legs as a kicker. The ability to kick field goals as soon as you cross midfield will help keep Araiza off the field in those types of pinpoint punting opportunities. Additionally, the Bills have the offensive firepower with Josh Allen and others to be aggressive and go for it on fourth downs around the middle of the field.

The skillset of Araiza gives the Buffalo Bills a safety net for the offense if a drive ends deep in their territory but also allows them to be more aggressive in the middle of the field. And sure, there may be some high leverage moments where Araiza has to try and pin someone deep, but people forget that the worst-case scenario here is that the other team will have to drive 80 yards down the field to score a touchdown.

And if that is a significant concern for you, just know that the Bills’ defense added Von Miller to a squad that only allowed 26.11 yards per drive last season.