Commanders

Washington's most impactful players of 2020: Tress Way

Commanders

The Washington Football Team's 2020 season was a memorable one filled with impactful performances. Over the next two weeks, NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux and Ryan Homler will take a look at 10 players who provided the biggest impact. Next up: Tress Way

During the 2020 NFL season, NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay tweeted out the below picture of Washington punter Tress Way on 13 different occasions. Yes, I went back and counted.

Finlay wasn't just sharing the picture because it was an image that can't help but bring a smile to your face -- which it is -- but because he used it as a marker to signify when Way had done something incredible that helped out the Washington Football Team.

Based on the volume at which it was tweeted, it's clear that came often. 

Punters don't typically get much recognition from the outside world. The only time their highlights are shown is when they are on the wrong end of a block that leads to a touchdown. Yet, those who have followed Washington closely over the past few years know Way deserves his due. 

The Oklahoma product is more than just someone who kicks the football -- and is really good at ping pong. He's an integral part of why Washington's defense found success in 2020 and why the offense was able to hang around in games it probably had no business doing so. This past season, Way once again was one of the most impactful players on Washington's roster.

 

When Way trots on the field on fourth down to punt, it's about more than just getting the ball away smoothly. His job is to flip field position, and if possible, pin the opposing offense deep in its own territory. He's not just good at that, he's great at it.

In 2020 Way punted 73 times, which was the second-highest total in the NFL. With that, he averaged a distance of 48 yards per punt, good enough for fifth in the league. He also was able to have 28 of his punts pinned inside the 20. On around 38% of his punts, the opponent was starting with poor field position.

That's rather impressive given how challenging it is to catch a football, kick it up in the air and angle it so it lands in the right spot and doesn't bounce out of bounds. That's all happening while defenders are charging right at you.

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The numbers are about on par with Way's 2019 campaign where he earned Pro Bowl honors, as he punted 79 times and had 31 land inside the 20. The only main difference is Way didn't get off a booming punt like his 79-yarder in 2019. Way, however, was not a Pro Bowler in 2020, though he did earn NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors twice.

Even if the accolades weren't all there, Way deserves his credit in terms of what Washington was able to do in 2020. Each time an offense was pinned deep, it made the job easier for Washington's defense. Even though the unit was strong, it's not easy for any group to try and stop an offense when they only need to go 50 yards instead of 80.

Additionally, the offense should be sending some gifts to Way. In games where it felt like nothing was working and Way was taking the field every single drive, his ability to flip the field kept the team in the contest. The offense wasn't scoring, but he was making it more difficult for the opponent to retaliate.

A shanked punt in this year's Super Bowl showed how much one boot can change everything. Even the teams with the best offenses or defenses are sometimes at mercy of the special teams. In Washington, that's something Ron Rivera and company didn't have to worry about.

As long as Way is the punter he'll continue to have an impact on the game, and Finlay can continue to tweet out his picture.