The Chargers on Tuesday night signed former Eagles punter Donnie Jones.
I don’t know what they’re paying him, but when I heard that, I couldn’t help but think about how much the Eagles could use him right now.
Jones, 38, retired after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, then decided he wanted to keep playing. But when I caught up with him before the Atlanta game, he seemed pretty content with his life back in Louisiana. Perhaps once the games started getting played, he missed it even more. And there is some allure to playing in Los Angeles.
In any case, the Eagles would be better off with Jones over Cameron Johnston right now. That’s not to say Johnston won’t become a great punter; but he’s been too inconsistent.
Johnston, who comes from Australia, has a monster leg. We know that. Johnston’s gross average of 51.5 yards and his net average of 44.0 yards lead the NFL. He even booted an 81-yarder in the preseason, but he hasn’t been nearly consistent enough this season and has struggled to pin teams inside the 20. Maybe with an aggressive coach like Doug Pederson, it’s more important to have a punter who can flip the field instead of a punter who can pin teams deep, but the Eagles have missed that element.
Johnston has punted 20 times this season and has a league-high five touchbacks. The next-closest punter in the league has three. And he has pinned opposing teams inside the 20 just six times.
Jones, meanwhile, is simply the best punter in franchise history. He owns Eagles records for career net average, gross average and punts inside the 20. He’s the second-best punter I have ever covered after Shane Lechler, who replaced Jones in Houston and happens to be the best punter in NFL history.
All of Dave Fipp’s special teams units have been lacking through four games this season and the punter is just a part of it. Johnston is still young in his NFL career and has the potential to be really good. But for a team with aspirations to defend a Super Bowl title, having Jones back certainly would help.
But I guess there are bigger problems right now too.