As we continue to rant on about players who are problems or keys to successes on the Baltimore Ravens’ roster, one position that is rarely written about unless there is bad news is the punter. Whether the Ravens are up or down, there is a one player that is an unflappable contributor ready to do his job. That player is Sam Koch.
Koch was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL draft. Ozzie Newsome has kept the long-tenured veteran on the roster even past the Brian Billick era because his leg is exceptional. At time, he has even shown his athleticism on a few field goal and punt fakes in the past. He even contributed to the recent Super Bowl win by running out the clock by taking the safety to secure the win.
Usually when teammates see Koch walking on the field, they have their heads hung low because they know the offense obviously didn’t get the job done. With that said, they value him above most players on the roster because they have full confidence that he will put the opponent in uncomfortable field position. This year, Koch is eighth in the league in punts inside the 20-yard line with 17; out of all of his punts this year, only four have been touchbacks.
I’d say if Koch needed to work on something, it would be his hang time. Out of his 43 punts, 32 have been returned while only 11 have been signaled to the official for a fair catch. This lack of time of the ball in the air could hurt the special teams unit; he could out-kick his coverage with low, deep kicks, causing big returns.
This has certainly been the case this season, with the team ranking 29th in return yards allowed with 307. While that seems like a bad statistic, he must be doing something right because no punts have been returned this season for a touchdown.
The Ravens are going to need that stat to continue as they are about to face off against the most prolific returners in the game in Devin Hester. I would not even chance it with this guy — he can take what looks to be a bad situation and turn it into six. When Koch sees no. 23 at the other end of the field, it’s best to just angle it out of bounds and avoid the dangerous speedster.
Koch’s play could be key in this matchup against the Chicago Bears; however, we hope to see this player as little as possible on Sunday.