Let New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick tell it, and Los Angeles Rams punter Johnny Hekker is on his way to the Hall of Fame.
It’s probably hard for a guy like Belichick to seriously diagnose a team like the Rams in the week before encountering them. He doesn’t underestimate them by any means, but…he coaches the Patriots and these are the Rams we’re talking about.
So, being sarcastic or not, Belichick went out of his way to praise Hekker, as captured by WEEI’s Mike Petraglia:
“Start with the kicking game, Hekker is a tremendous weapon,” Belichick beamed. “This guy looks like as good a player as I’ve seen at that position. He’s tremendous weapon in his ability to punt the ball, punt it inside the 20, directional kick it, involved in fake, can throw, can run, very athletic.”
Ryan Hannable caught some of the praise as well:
Indeed, no shagging flies around the Hekker. Petraglia helped explain why Belichick wasn’t being too outlandish with his praise:
The numbers support Belichick’s respect. Hekker is second in the NFL in average net yards (44.9), punts inside the 20 (35), fair catches (27) and fewest touchbacks (1). In five years in the league, he has averaged 46.3 yards per punt and a net average of 43.0 yards.
So hey, punters don’t get enough credit. If Belichick speaks highly of one, it’s probably best to pay attention.
Still, the fact this is the main conversation around Patriots-Rams says a lot. Belichick, after all, owns Jeff Fisher.
If Fisher is lucky, Hekker can change the narrative.