I’m going to start by addressing the elephant in the room: Matt Prater isn’t going anywhere. This season is wasted, this head coach coaches like he’s wasted, and getting a new kicker solves absolutely nothing. I wrote a few weeks ago about how placing blame on Matt Prater—after all that he has given to this team—and sending him packing any time before the season’s end would be criminal. By not ridding the Detroit Lions of Prater, Coombs is doing yet another thing right.
Let’s get to the other stuff, though. Jack Fox is the best punter in the NFL this season and nobody else is putting up much of a fight. That part’s obvious. Fox is averaging 50.6 yards per punt, a whole yard ahead of second place. Coombs isn’t the one punting though.
What Coombs is doing is leading one of the best special teams coverage units in the league. Guys like Tony McRae (prior to his season-ending injury) and Miles Killebrew (Killebrew having been written off as destined to be cut by this team) have anchored a punt and kick coverage team that has tormented opposing returners all season. That has been a key factor in Jack Fox’s statistical success in both punting and kickoffs. Killebrew is currently tied for third place in special teams tackles this season with nine, with Mike Ford and Jalen Reeves Maybin also near the top of the league.
In a season in which the offense has progressively stagnated, and Darrell Bevell has turned towards the tendencies that once lost him his job in Seattle, one Lions coordinator is doing things right. For us Lions fans who like to cling to any hope of being in a game, many weeks we have Brayden Coombs to thank for keeping them in it.