Bill Belichick is entering his 20th season with the New England Patriots, but he has had some notable firsts this year. In the 2019 NFL Draft, the Patriots picked wide receiver N'Keal Harry in the first round. That was the first time Belichick had selected a receiver in the first round during his time with the Patriots.
On Monday, the team released veteran punter Ryan Allen signifying that rookie fifth-round pick Jake Bailey had won the punter battle. Barring a surprise, Bailey will be the team's punter to start the season. And per Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, Bailey will be the first full-time right-footed punter that Belichick has employed in 20 seasons.
Per research on @pfref, Belichick has only had a right-footed punter for 3 games in his 19 seasons with the Patriots -- one game with Brooks Barnard in 2003 and two games with Todd Sauerbrun in 2006— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) August 19, 2019
Though Belichick did have a couple of fill-in righties at punter as Volin mentioned, this is frankly remarkable. But evidently, having a left-footed punter was something that Belichick placed value on.
Since 1999, Belichick has had six lefty punters on the roster. They were Allen, Zoltan Mesko, Chris Hanson, Josh Miller, Ken Walter, and Lee Johnson. The only righties were the aforementioned Brooks Barnard and Todd Sauerbrun, who combined to launch 20 total punts with the Patriots. Comparatively, the lefties during the Belichick era have launched 1,322 total punts.
Bailey will be something new and different for the Patriots, but it seems that he has the skills needed to succeed. He averaged 43.8 yards per punt during his college days at safety, so he should have a chance to seamlessly replace Allen.
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