Punters are people, too, and we love to see these athletes getting a chance to shine. But when they are given a moment to Be An Athlete and it goes horribly wrong, everyone involved needs to re-evaluate things and figure out what went wrong.
And so, we shall look at this embarassingly bad fake punt attempt from Thursday Night Football between the Chiefs and Broncos. Denver was faced with a 4th and 4 around midfield to start the second quarter, and they got a bit creative with the fake. The punter, Colby Wadman, takes the snap and takes off to the left and then, oh no, what a complete disaster.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 18, 2019
There’s a lot going on here, but let’s try to break it down. There’s already some trickery happening before the snap, as a Broncos gunner is running toward Wadman, who fakes a toss to him as he runs to the right. That means Wadman is keeping it, and he takes off with a lot of room to run.
Here’s the problem: he’s a good eight yards behind the line of scrimmage, which means a 4th and 4 is really a 12 or so yard run just to get the first down. And with the way the blocking — ahem, complete lack of blocking — is set up here you’re asking a punter to beat some extremely fast professional special teamers to the first down marker. In this case, that’s two Chiefs defenders who were not completely fooled by the fact that the guy who is supposed to boot the ball with his foot just scampering with it.
It appears that Wadman is actually looking to throw here, or perhaps it was a desperation move when he realizes he’s about to get crushed. But whatever was happening here, the target wasn’t completely open and he is devoured by Chiefs defenders before he could ever get rid of the ball, taking a loss and giving the Chiefs a good starting spot for their next drive.
We love the creativity here, but you’re asking a punter for a lot if the scheme doesn’t completely fool the Chiefs special teams unit. Getting all 11 guys to bite on a fake is really hard, and it’s a fast game where even a momentary slip-up by a defender can be corrected with lightning-fast reflexes. Reflexes that, unfortunately for the Broncos, usually don’t come in a punter’s bag of tricks.