When the Eagles signed Sav Rocca in 2007, the team had far more questions than answers.
Rocca spent 15 seasons cementing his legacy in the Australian League, where he played in 257 career games and scored 748 goals for the Collingwood Magpies and North Melbourne Kangaroos. But Australia is a long way from the east coast, and whether or not Rocca could be a solid NFL punter in a testing climate remained to be seen.
For three seasons, Rocca showed his team and its fans that he had as big a leg as any punter in the league, but struggled to remain consistent. Now, in 2010, he has proved to be one of the best and most consistent punters in the NFL through the first four weeks.
Rocca's net punting average of 39.7 yards ranks seventh in the NFL, and would be the highest of his career if the season ended today. His gross average, or the average length of a punt before the return, is 48.1 yards, which ranks first in the conference and second in the NFL by a mere 0.3 yards per punt.
Rocca said that through hard work, he's starting to find success week in and week out.
"I'm exactly where I want to be, and I want to stay at this point for the rest of the season," Rocca said. "There's been a lot of hard work throughout the preseason and then in all the workouts we've gone through so I'm hoping that we can maintain that and continue it on."
While Rocca is surely aware of his early-season success, does he know how he compares to the rest of the league?
"Our game is all about statistics. I'm aware of roughly where I'm at, but I concentrate more on my numbers," Rocca said. "If they're up there or not, as long as I'm happy with my numbers that's the main thing."
While his numbers are terrific, there's no stat to measure Rocca's value when it comes to field position. On more than one occasion this season, Rocca has boomed a punt from deep in his own territory, and pushed the opposing offense out of all-but-guaranteed good field position. As the weeks go on in this 2010 season, that unmeasured asset will directly help the most important stat of all - wins.
"Sav has done a good job; it's his primary job to take the returner out of the game," special teams coordinator Bobby April said. "There's 22 feet that cover a punt, but his one foot is the most important to take a guy out. It's like facing Babe Ruth - the guy that has the best chance is the pitcher, not the second baseman."
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 6:07 p.m., October 7