The Eagles have been terrible in the special teams area for the last couple of years, so it wasn’t a surprise when they jumped at the opportunity to sign a Pro Bowl level punter. The Birds acquired former Houston punter and nine-year veteran Donnie Jones after he was released by the Texans. The signing forced the Eagles to release their veteran punter Matt McBriar.
Houston signed Shane Lechler and that made Jones available. The 32-year old leftfooted punter says the Birds made it clear that they wanted him here in Philly.
As I said earlier, I can understand them making changes in the special teams area. Jones punted for the Texans for only a year. He spent five years in St. Louis and had his best years inside the dome there, when he made the Pro Bowl squad while punting for the Rams.
He was with the Houston Texans (2012), St. Louis Rams (2007-11), Miami Dolphins (2005-06) and Seattle Seahawks (2004), Jones. He ranks 5th in NFL history in both gross (45.6) and net punting average (39.0), which is nothing to sneeze. He’s a two-time, All-Pro selection with St. Louis from 2008-09.
Last year as a Texan, he was ranked as the 13th best punter in the league, while McBriar finished 15th. He edged out the Eagles punter in gross punting, while averaging 47.2 per punt to McBriar’s 46.5.
The Birds poor punt coverage unit and McBriar’s inability to get enough height on his punts made the Birds punt unit 31st in the league in average punt return yardage, 13.6.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Jones kicks in the elements. The wind at Lincoln Financial Field can be especially problematic and hard to read. It’s going to be his biggest challenge for Jones, who as I said before had his best years in a dome.