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A Change Gonna Come

Sam Koch
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When the Ravens used the 130th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on a punter, we all knew that Sam Koch’s career as a member of the team’s roster was over. As his approximate namesake once sang, “A Change Gonna Come”.

When asked about Koch during a recent presser, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta spoke glowingly of the player, the teammate and the man. And he hinted that an announcement about Sam would come in the then not too distant future.

The future is now.

Given Koch’s accomplishments, team records and 16-year career in Baltimore, coupled with the organization’s universal admiration society for the York, Nebraska native, one would think that the 39-year-old Koch was made aware of the team’s intent to replace him via the draft.

Not only has Sam been a highly-competent punter, he was an outstanding holder, flawlessly handling snap after snap as a vital cog in the placekicking operation. Many times during his career, Sam has bailed out the club’s long-snappers, Matt Katula, Morgan Cox and Nick Moore. When I think of Koch, among the things that I’ll remember fondly:

• Poise under pressure
• His passing ability
• Professionalism
• Team Cornhole Champion
• His clock-eating prance in the back of the end zone in SB 47

And the of course there are his awards and career highlights:

AWARDS

• Pro Bowl (2015)
• Three-time Pro Bowl first alternate (2010, 2014, 2019)
• PFWA All-AFC (2015)
• AFC Special Teams Player of the Week (Week 15, 2017; Week 12, 2017; Week 16, 2008)
• Ravens Roost Unsung Hero Award (2015)
• Ravens Roost Extra Effort Award (2008)

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

• Owns franchise records with 1,168 punts for 52,868 yards and a 45.3 career gross average…His 39.7 career net average also ranks first in team history
• Owns the most punts (1,168) with a single team (Ravens) in NFL history…Owns the most regular season games played (256) in Ravens franchise history
• Since 2006, when he entered the league, Koch’s 453 punts inside the 20 rank second among active punters
• Has held on all 18 of K Justin Tucker‘s game-winning FGs
• On fake punts/kicks, is 7-of-8 passing for 82 yards and a 109.4 career passer rating
• Appeared in all 17 games in 2021, helping Baltimore’s special teams unit rank No. 1 in Football Outsiders’ DVOA rating…Punted 71 times for 3,149 yards, averaging 44.4 yards per punt (40.0 net avg) and placing 26 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line…Also held on all of K Justin
• Tucker’s FGAs, who led the NFL with a 94.6 FG% (35-of-37), including a game-winning and an NFL-record 66-yarder at Det. (9/26/21)
• In 2020, punted 51 times for 2,268 yards for a 44.5 gross average and 42.5 net average…Also finished as the NFL’s only punter to place at least 20 punts (22) inside in the 20-yard line and have no more than 1 TB
• Led the league in 2017 with a franchise-record 40 punts inside the 20…Also added an NFL-best 16 inside the 10
• In 2015, earned his first-career Pro Bowl nod after posting the NFL’s second-best net (42.9) and ninth-best gross (46.7) punting averages

Given all of the above, his status as a career-long Raven and his leadership role within the “operation”, count me among those who see Sam Koch as not only a potential future special teams coach in the league (he considers former S/T Coach Jerry Rosburg a mentor) but also a decorated member of the Ravens Ring of Honor.

[Related Article: A Red Letter Day in Ravens History]

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