Coming into the season, the Cleveland Browns had every reason to be nervous about their rookie kickers. Austin Seibert started out so poorly in training camp that he was booed at the Orange and Brown Scrimmage and Freddie Kitchens was fielding questions about whether they should be looking for outside kicking help. He started trending in the right direction, but it was a projection that he'd get it right during the season.
No one ever questioned Jamie Gillan's leg strength as a punter, but it was the details of the position that were of concern. Being able to place a ball consistently, holding on field goals, etc. It always felt like a matter of 'when' as opposed to 'if', but the timeline was never clear.
A quarter of the season in, Seibert has been great. He missed an extra point in the opener against the Tennessee Titans, but has made the eight other extra points and made all seven field goal attempts. Coming into the season, there wasn't much confidence that the Browns would come away with seven points scoring touchdowns, so you felt compelled to watch. A month in, Seibert is giving fans the green light to get another beverage or use the restroom.
Further, Seibert has been impressive in his ability to place kickoffs on the 1-yard line, enabling the Browns outstanding coverage unit to force opponents to start drives deep in their own end of the field. And it's fun to watch the kickoff operation, because they are executing it so well.
Gillan, meanwhile, has was named AFC Special Teams player of the Week for his performance against the New York Jets. Out of 20 punts, Gillan has put 11 of them inside the opposing 20 and only four of his punts have been returned at a meager average of 4.8 yards.
Things could change dramatically, but for now, the bold move of rolling with rookies at both kicker and punter has paid off. Both are playing confidently, at a high level and on the list of questions facing the Browns, these two currently aren't on it.
Seibert and Gillan deserve a lot of credit for the work they've put in to get here. Special Teams coach Mike Priefer deserves credit. And general manager John Dorsey deserves some credit for betting on these two, despite the Seibert's shaky camp and the presence of an excellent veteran punter in Britton Colquitt.
And, the more TDs we score..........the more proficient our kicker and holder become in the future. Another "feather in the cap" of our GM, John Dorsey and ST co-coordinator, Mike Priefer.