Good article by Tara Sullivan about Jeff Feagles, and how lucky the Giants are to have the all-time leader in consecutive games back for another season.  Feagles was good last year — not spectacular, but above average — and given the Giants recent difficulty in finding a good punter — Rodney Williams, anyone? — this is significant.

Overall, Feagles finished 17th in the league by generating a half a point worth of field position on net punts over the course of the season, according to a statistic in which field position is translated into a point value based on expected points scored at various positions on the field.

Why is 17th in the league above average, you might ask?  Well, first of all, because 35 guys in the league punted last year.  And secondly, Feagles’ punts are being measured against the all the punts of 2005, the aggregate of all the punters’ punts.  Based on this baseline, he generated .5 more points than the league average.

While this might not seem great, it represents a substantial improvement over the Giants recent punt coverage history.  Even with special teams ace David Tyree, the Giants punt coverage had been putrid heading into 2005.  Footballoutsiders’ stats have them giving up 1.3 points in 2003, and 2.0 points in 2004.  To swing 2.5 points to the good, finally on the positive side of the ledger, is no small accomplishment.  And while 2.5 points over the course of a season doesn’t seem like much, these things add up.  In the hypercompetitive NFC East of 2006, we’re going to need all the points we can get.

Feagles’ leg certainly isn’t the biggest — of the 35 guys that punted last year, Feagles finished 25th.  But instead of booming his kicks for maximum distance, Feagles focusses instead on placing punts in good spots, most notably out of bounds.  He finished fourth in the NFL with 11 punts out of bounds, which isn’t necessarily a good thing in itself, but bodes well for a guy like Feagles who knows what he’s doing.  And only 3 of his punts the entire season went for touchbacks, a testament to his ability to pin ’em deep.

So welcome back for another year, Jeff!  If we’re serious about contending for a Super Bowl, every little inch of field position will matter.