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Bill Belichick discusses Patriots’ ‘inconsistent’ punting operation

#PostPulpit Mailbag: Will the Patriots’ offense improve off the bye week?

New England Patriots v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

The New England Patriots’ punting operation has turned in up-and-down performances throughout the season so far, and Bill Belichick has taken notice.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s been good and then it hasn’t been consistent,” Belichick said on Friday. “It’s not like it’s all bad, it’s not like it’s all good, it’s just inconsistent. So, think there’s a number of areas we can improve in, try to improve in. Obviously, it starts with the specialist. But there’s other things that we need to improve in on the punt team and kickoff coverage as well, although I think [Bailey’s] kicked off fairly well this year.”

After a down season last year, Bailey’s struggles have continued into 2022. The punter ranks dead-last in the league in yards-per attempt and net-yards per attempt, while ranking 31st in average hang time.

Belichick noted that the 2020 All-Pro still has the talent, just the operation needs more consistency.

“It’s just like any technical thing, a golf swing or a punter or whatever. There’s mechanics and consistency and execution of it,” Belichick explained. “Again, there’s plenty of talent there and there’s been some rainbows out there like there always have been. So, work harder and make it more consistent.

In the midst of his struggles, Bailey appeared on the Patriots injury report this week for the first time with a back injury. With the punter doubtful for Sunday, New England likely will turn to Michael Palardy, who currently resides on the practice squad.

“He’s been a good punter, a good athlete,” Belichick said. “High school quarterback, kicked off, punted. It was good to have him here last week with getting ready for [Matt] Haack.”

The Patriots will likely elevate the left-footed punter, who Belichick noted also has past experience holding kicks, to the active roster on Saturday. His performance will be one to watch in a game against the Jets in which field position could be pivotal.