Mann was one of the Jets’ worst players in 2022
If there’s one move that Joe Douglas must make this offseason, it is finding another punter.
While punters don’t often get much airtime, they can have a sneaky impact. The Jets found that out the hard way in 2022 when two short, line-drive punts were returned for touchdowns. This reinforces the traditional NFL wisdom that says never to draft a punter.
Braden Mann is one of the holdouts from Douglas’s putrid inaugural draft with the Jets, joining Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims, Ashtyn Davis, and Bryce Hall. Mann has been as disappointing as any of the rest despite receiving less fanfare. At the end of 2022, though, every Jets fan knew what their eyes told them: Braden Mann is one of the worst punters in football.
It’s not even that his raw numbers are that bad; he ranks in the middle of the pack in many traditional punter stats, including 47.4 yards per punt (14th), 29 punts downed inside the 20 (12th), 39.0% return rate (11th), 15 punts out of bounds (1st), 11 punts downed (T-5th), 16 punts fair caught (T-18th), and 4.35 hangtime (12th).
Some of Mann’s other numbers listed on Pro Football Focus hint at how bad he was. This includes net yards per attempt (41.0, 21st), yards per return (11.3), and touchbacks (8). On both ends, though, the counting stats do not reflect Mann’s true play, as he attempted the fifth-most punts in the NFL with 84.
What best contextualizes Mann’s 2022 performance is a deeper dive into the spread of his punts. He cost the Jets in the most important situations, far more than just punting into the end zone.
Based on the eye test, it was obvious that Mann was shanking a punt at least once a game. It’s hard to measure that in the traditional statistics since every punter will have short punts from time to time when trying to pin the opponent deep.
Therefore, to calculate the effect of Mann’s shanks, we need to remove punts that were either touchbacks or downed inside the 20 and then compare his numbers to other punters’. On those punts, Mann had the highest rate of punts traveling 25 yards or fewer at 8.3%, which is nearly a full 2% higher than the next-closest punter. He had the second-highest rate of punts below 30 yards at 10.4%.
Furthermore, Mann tended to punt his worst in situations when his team needed a good punt from him. On punts from inside his own team’s 20, he had the ninth-worst rate of punts traveling fewer than 40 yards at 14.3%.
Mann also ranked 30th out of 32 punters with -0.228 Expected Points Added (EPA) per punt and 32nd with -18.9 total EPA on his punts.
When you put these numbers into context over the past 10 seasons, they stand out as even more awful. Mann’s 8.3% shank rate is tied for the eighth-worst over that time span. His -0.228 EPA per punt is in the 14th percentile. What’s particularly alarming is that in each category, Mann ranked in the 15th percentile or lower in one of his other two years, as well. This essentially means that in all three of his seasons in the NFL, Mann has been one of the worst punters of the last decade.
It is time for the Jets to cut bait with Braden Mann. A failed draft pick only becomes worse if you double down on him. It’s foolish to go with the sunk cost fallacy on a punter.