The New England Patriots are all about improving on the margins. Tight end Michael Williams was an improvement over Michael Hoomanawanui. Wide receiver Keshawn Martin was an improvement over Chris Harper. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks was an improvement over Sealver Siliga.
And long snapper Joe Cardona has been a fantastic improvement over Danny Aiken.
Do you remember the bounce snaps of Aiken?
Those were the good old days. Head coach Bill Belichick invested a fifth round pick in long snapper Joe Cardona in the 2015 NFL draft in order to add that tiny marginal improvement that helps pay off down the road.
And snaps are a pretty simple way to evaluate a long snapper because, well, that's their job. They either make a good snap or they mess up in a major way. Cardona has avoided messing up for most of the season.
@PP_Rich_Hill 10 off target for Cardona this year, 25 for Aiken last year— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) January 19, 2016
Thanks to Gordon from Pro Football Focus for the numbers. Aiken missed an astounding 25 snaps, which was 1.67 per game (he was only active for 15 games last season). Cardona missed 0.63 per game; this means that Aiken messed up on roughly one extra snap per game.
That's a big difference.