It was Fields’ best performance out of his six seasons in the league – but somehow wasn’t good enough to land him his first Pro Bowl berth. His 50.2 average led the entire league and is the fifth-best single-season average in NFL history. He now has two of the top 10 seasons and while he allowed himself to feel a little slighted in the Pro Bowl voting, Fields has kept his humility.
“I feel very good about it and obviously it’s great for the individual, but also as a punt team we did great,” said Fields, who was taken in the seventh round of the 2007 NFL Draft out of Michigan State. “All of the guys in front of me did their job, (long snapper)
Consistency has been the key to Fields’ success over the years and he has proven to be multi-dimensional. At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, he has the build of a tight end and the strength of his leg never was in question. In fact, he left such a legacy in the college ranks that the Big Ten has named its annual punting award after him.
Where Fields has truly excelled in recent years is with his deft touch while trying to land punts inside the opponents’ 20. He has developed a unique spin on the ball and gets enormous height on those situational kicks, allowing for his cover guys to get underneath it in order to down it deep in the other team’s end. He ended the season with 29 punts landed inside the 20 after hitting 32 last year and 31 in 2010, and his career of 46.4 yards per punt ranks second all-time in NFL history behind only Shane Lechler of the Oakland Raiders (47.5).
“As one coach told me, having all of the clubs in the bag and to not just be a one-trick pony is important to me,” Fields said. “So to be able to do whatever the situation calls for is the key. One of the things I take pride in is when we’re backed up deep and I’m able to flip the field, to where the opposing team thinks that they’re going to get good field position to of it. So for us to flip it around on them and have them start deep in their own territory is something I think helps out the team and helps out the defense a lot.”
Not that Fields needed anymore motivation to do his job well after the Dolphins signed him to a four-year contract extension last August, but chances are that Pro Bowl snub could end up costing opposing punt returners and punt return units next season.
“Every year I try to improve and try to build on what I’ve done in the past and stay consistent with the stuff that I’ve done well,” Fields said. “With that my sights keep getting set higher of where I want to go, what I want to reach and what I want to do.”