One of the many stats that has gone quietly unnoticed so far this season is the amount of yards the Cowboys have given up on punt returns. In three games, the Cowboys have allowed exactly seven yards on punt returns. Seven.
Now, to be fair, Dallas has also only punted a league low 11 times (and obviously has a game in hand). Only three punts were returned for an average of 2.3 yards per return, the second lowest rate in the league. In addition to the three returns, three punts were touchbacks, three were kicked out of bounds and two were downed by Dallas.
And it's not like Mat McBriar simply kicked them straight up - the Cowboys rank 7th in the league with a net punting average of 42.8 yards.
On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys are averaging a league leading 17.8 yards per punt return on five returned punts out of 15 punts received. Granted, one punt return for a TD will screw with a sample size this small, but still...
Unfortunately, what seems to be working in the punting game is not yet working in the kickoff game. The Cowboys have given up an average of 28.3 yards on 10 kickoff returns, which ranks an unhealthy 27th in the league. Equally disappointing is the 21.9 average (23rd) the Cowboys have gained so far on kickoff returns. Part of the reason for this is that David Buehler has not yet recorded a single touchback on kickoffs this season, the other reason is that no truly dominant kickoff returner has emerged on the team yet.
Joe DeCamillis has had to significantly restructure his special teams this season and it may just be that the kickoff game needs just a little more time than the punting game. Let's hope the time in the bye week will have been enough.