| Detroit Free Press
Are Detroit Lions as bad off as we thought? Breaking down Cards win
Dave Birkett and Carlos Monarrez break down what we learned about the Detroit Lions after their win over the Cardinals on Sept. 27, 2020.
After all, he’s only played three games in his NFL career.
Fox tries to focus on his craft, enjoying the ride and taking it in stride. After he earned NFC special teams player of the month honors a day earlier, Fox said Thursday that he’s appreciated receiving congratulations from long-lost friends and liked the opportunity to hear about their lives.
But Fox would rather avoid discussing the fact he’s on pace to shatter Johnny Hekker’s NFL single-season record for net punting average: 46.0 yards, set in 2016. Fox’s net average is a whopping 51.1 yards, earned by consistently pinning opponents deep and flipping the field for the Lions.
“I mean, it’d be cool,” Fox said of breaking the record. “But to be honest with you, it’s Week 3. We’re not worried about records right now. We’re just worried about winning games.”
And Fox has been part of that, too. The Lions won their first game of the season Sunday in Arizona thanks, in part, to Fox. He had a net average of 50.5 yards on four punts, with three of them being downed inside the 20-year line. And when the Lions’ offense managed just 3 yards early in the game on its way to a three-and-out, Fox boomed a 65-yarder into the end zone to force the Cardinals to start from their 20.
All of that has contributed to Fox’s growing confidence.
“Yeah, it feels really good,” he said. “The whole punt unit’s really played well. They should be really confident in themselves, too. Shoot, the protection’s really good and the gunners have been playing their butts off. You see Tony McRae down there every week. He’s really fun to watch. I think all those guys are playing really confidently and I think I am, too.”
As for the accolade and attention, that also has felt good. But Fox doesn’t want it to become a distraction.
“It’s been really cool,” he said. “I appreciate all the love I’ve been getting and all of that. But I really strive to zone it all out. Like I’m not thinking about it during the week.
“I’m just thinking about getting better and doing my best in practice and during the game. Yeah, just really taking it one punt at a time. I really haven’t been thinking too much about the outside stuff.”
As an example, Fox hasn’t gotten Daniel’s signature on a treasured piece of memorabilia. Fox grew up in St. Louis as a huge Missouri fan and has a framed 2007 Sports Illustrated cover with Daniel on it in his basement. Fox, who just turned 24, sounded a little sheepish about asking Daniel to break out the Sharpie.
Instead of chasing signatures and honorifics, Fox wants to pursue improvement, especially in kickoffs. His net kickoff average of 40.25 yards ranks 30th in the NFL and his touchback average of 37.5% ranks 31st.
“And I think first of all, kickoffs, like I need to be better there,” he said. “I’ve been kind of disappointed in how I’ve been kicking off. We really pride ourselves on covering kicks and being a tough team on kickoff. I haven’t really given our guys a good enough chance to cover kicks. So I’m just trying to get better at that every week.
“And then just keep it going on punt. Like it’s been three weeks. It hasn’t been that long. Just take it one punt at a time, one game at a time and just do our best to help the team win.”
Contact Carlos Monarrez at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @cmonarrez.