Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sam Koch snubbed out of deserved Pro Bowl spot

The Raiders’ Shane Lechler is the AFC’s punter in the 2011 Pro Bowl and like other players who have been there before (6 times in Lechler’s case) he’s going back again on reputation. And while he’s not having a bad season, he isn’t as deserving as the Ravens’ Sam Koch.

For me the best punters are those who can shift field position. Now they can do that by knocking the ball into the next county and Lechler has done that his fair share of times.

But shifting field position can be done in other ways through directional punting, punts inside the 20 and inside the 10, enabling the gunners to down the ball or forcing fair catches. All of these things are welcomed by the punt coverage team because each time they happen, the number of collisions drop as do the number of injuries.

This season Koch has 37 punts inside the 20 yard line compared to 26 by Lechler. Since the NFL doesn’t keep a more meaningful stat like punts inside the 10, I went through the grueling manual process to discover that Koch has 21 such punts. That number is the same or more than 18 starting punters’ totals inside the 20 yard line. I didn’t bother to tally up Lechler’s but given his 26 kicks inside the 20, it’s safe to say his inside the 10 number doesn’t touch Koch’s.

Koch has had 74 punts and the return yardage on those punts adds up to 226 or an average of 3.05 yards. Lechler has 72 punts and those missiles have been returned for 380 yards, an average of 5.28 yards. Lechler does have an edge in net yards (40.6 v. 39.0) but that can easily be explained away that Koch is willing to give up net in exchange for field position.

Each punter has had 9 of their kicks downed while punt returners have signaled for a fair catch on 29% (21 times) of Koch’s punts compared to 15% (11 times) for Lechler.

Lechler may have a more impressive resume than Koch, but it’s that resume that will send him to Hawaii this season and not because he was the better punter in 2010.

For my money, I’ll take Sam Koch over Lechler every day of the week and 5 times on Sunday.


Jerry B said...

Couldn't agree more, TL! While it's not easy to quantify, both he and Cundiff have won games for us this year! Koch is simply the best in the business and deserves way more recognition than he gets!

Harryos29 said...

Harry OS 29 Dec 29th
...Speaking of the Raiders, I remember Ray Guy punting at the old Memorial Stadium vs our Baltimore Colts in the mid 1970's.
Ray could hit punts that went so high that they could cause rain to come down. Well, IMHO this Shane Lechler ain't no Ray Guy.
...Sure I'm a homer, but Sam has been punting here in Baltimore for , what 5 years now? For all the reasons stated by TONY, Sam should be going to the BIG Island not LECHLER!
...Did the TERPS give Ralph a send off or what ?
51-20 final score over ECU.
((sorry Aaron))
...I just hope that our OFFENSIVE Coaches took note of the fact that, even with 5 minutes left in the game, the TERPS CONTINUTED TO ATTACK and Try to score. THAT IS WHAT GOOD OFFENSES DO: THEY TRY TO SCORE, ON EVERY SINGLE POSSESSION, EVEN WITH 5 SECONDS ON THE CLOCK BEFORE HALF TIME!!!

Phil from Frostburg said...

I love Sam Koch, but fact is he ranks only 7th in net yardage in the AFC. He hasn't been snubbed by any means. Unlike other positions, they only take one punter.

Yamon from Figures said...

Net yards are overrated Phil. It's like TL said, punters shift field position and no one does it better than Koch. I will say though that the Ravens have benefitted from reputation much like Shane Lechler. Sorry but Ray Lewis and arguably Reed are not deserving of All-Star status. Just like Lechler.