Sam Koch having career year for Baltimore Ravens


Oct 12, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Baltimore Ravens punter Sam Koch (4) punts the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Baltimore Ravens defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 48-17. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t think punting matters? Sam Koch begs to differ. In the midst of a career year, Sam Koch has been the Ravens biggest defensive contributor, consistently pinning opponents deep in their own territory. Considering that the Ravens give up an average of 32.42 yards per drive on defense according to Football Outsiders, Koch’s contributions are that much more important.

And make no mistake, Koch is playing the best football of his career. His performance against Tennessee was a perfect illustration. Koch punted seven times (the most he has punted in a game this season), pinning the Titans inside their own 20 four times. On one punt with exceptional hang time, Koch (with some help from Kamar Aiken) pinned the Titans at their own one-yard line. An impressive day.

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Ravens' Jordan Stout and Sam Koch are getting along just fine
Ravens' Jordan Stout and Sam Koch are getting along just fine /

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  • Flashback to the beginning of the 2014 offseason, though, and there were questions surrounding Koch. He was coming off a mediocre 2013 (at least by his standards), a season in which 10 percent of his kicks were touchbacks and his net average was just 38.6. The Ravens brought in Richie Leone to compete in camp, and with Koch’s sizable $2.8 million cap hit, there was speculation Leone had a very real chance to win the job.

    Koch left no doubt. He has been spectacular from his very first punts of the preseason, clearly out-dueling Leone and maintaining his stranglehold on the Ravens’ punting job.

    Since then, Koch has put up the best numbers of his career. His 42.2 net yards per punt would be a career high, as would the 54.3 percent of his punts that pin the opponent inside their own 20-yard line. His touchback percentage of 5.7 percent is also among the best marks of his career, especially compared to last year’s 10 percent mark. Another impressive stat: Only 34.3 percent of Koch’s punts are actually returned, one of the best percentages in the NFL.

    Koch currently ranks just fourteenth in the league in gross average, averaging 46 yards per punt, but his 42.2 net average is fifth in the NFL. Along with his coverage units, Koch has been among the best in the league at consistently pinning opponents deep in their own territory. His ability to flip field position has been crucial for a Ravens’ defense that has struggled at times.

    There were plenty of legitimate questions about whether $2.8 million was too high of a cap number for a punter. Koch, though, has been among the Ravens’ best weapons this year. He’s proving worth every penny, and now he’s proving worthy of the occasional headline as well.