There was a move that was expected to take place Tuesday during the Chargers off day. Many expected kicker Caleb Sturgis to be released after a forgetful performance on Sunday in a 29-27 victory of the San Francisco 49ers. Instead the team released punter Drew Kaser and signed 15-year veteran Donnie Jones.
The 38-year old punter was on the Philadelphia Eagles team for the last five seasons. After winning the Super Bowl last February with the Eagles, Jones retired, but had a change of heart and has been pursuing a job with another team.
During his tenure with the Eagles, Jones was also Sturgis’ holder for field goals. During that span Sturgis made 85 percent of his field goals. The Chargers brass is hoping lighting can strike twice.
There were a lot of negatives in the kicking game in the Chargers victory over the weekend. Sturgis was 3 for 4 in field goals, missing a 54-yarder, and was 0 for 2 in extra points. Lucky for the Chargers they were able to overcome the lost points, unlike in the past. After the game Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said they would look at every aspect.
“The kicking game — that's something we're evaluating right now,” explained Coach Lynn. “What we're looking at, it's not just the kicker. It's the snapper, the holder. We're looking at the whole process. That has to improve and it's going to.”
The former sixth-round draft pick has had a career 47.4-yard punting average and has been top-10 (7th) in average this season, but he was already in the dog house with Lynn because of inconsistencies. In the past, Kaser was replaced twice for then back-up quarterback Kellen Clemens because of his lackluster job as the team’s holder.
Two weeks ago, when the Chargers faced the Rams, Kaser had to punt from his own end zone and he took a three-step punt, which was blocked and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Lynn was not too pleased then either.
"We have to do a better job executing with our punter, number one,” said Coach Lynn. “You can't take a three-step approach when you're backed up like that. [It needs to be] one step and get the ball out. The ball should be gone.”
The kicking game has been a mess for the Chargers for the past few seasons and they hope bringing in Jones will change the kicking game for the better because, as we saw last season, having a bad kicking team can be the difference between the playoffs and the couch.