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The artists of the Coffin Corner – Portraits of the punter

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Published on Mar 29, 2020

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One of the words most well-known of folk wisdom declined on the NFL reads loud and clear:

The evolution of the game over time, has tried several times to refute this fact. The regulations were modified in favour of the show, in the name of an offensive game bubbling where the launches were, the salient fact of the highlights of the evening. The Seventies, for two seasons, saw the total of rushing yards to overcome that of the yard run, had to in everything and for everything to be stored as a kind of Medieval football. But every complex system over time adapts to the environmental changes and to external perturbations and when the whole is riassesta around a point of balance, the wisdom of the people took their revenge. Rarely do we find in the Olympus of the champions teams with defenses low. Even in our days, forget to see the team with the thirtieth defense on the thirty-two raise to the sky the Lombardi Trophy in the rain of confetti. On the contrary, if you want a nice confirmation that you can apply to you to the Super Bowl LIII, where a true masterpiece of defensive of Bill Belichick and his assistant Brian Flores has silenced an attack as explosive as that of the Rams, held to a measly field goal in sixty minutes.

But in the economy of a team defense is not a monad, an entity one and indivisible separated from the rest of the context. Large defenses were in trouble against large attacks, sometimes for objective reasons of talent (see the item “Dan Marino vs Bears”), sometimes to a precise strategy aimed to keep them in the field for as much time as possible (see the heading “Super Bowl XXV, Bills vs Giants”). In short, every defense, even the strong, need to be placed in a condition to make the most of your work: this means being in the field for less time possible and in the best possible position, that is, away from their own endzone. Here, we again appeal to another axiom, because we will give a fitting tribute to one of the roles most misunderstood

We are going to see the parameters needed to evaluate a punter and as the skill required to do this the player are not for anything trivial. We will do a rundown on the present and times to the neighbors and then we go into the past, to know what is without a doubt the Jedi Master of the role.
We will close with a “figurine” in the true sense, a punter of the past all the more special...

Third and long. On the sideline, no one knows what they can come up with the various Brady, Brees or Mahomes in the field at the time: the various specialists who thinks that the trench for the fourth down, especially to enter his defence in the best possible position.
The word now it is up to the punter. To say that this is a specialist only has to “send the ball as far as you can” is not wrong, but is drastically reductive. The punter has two opponents that are also necessary: those who catapult in the backfield to try and run the fifteen yards to get to the block of calcium and those who waits for the ball in the back of the field. Against the first, can do virtually nothing but manage the second and prevent the damage that can do with the ball in hand, under certain conditions, it is, in large part to him. Going to disturb some of the names, this means that a punter should avoid leaving time and “vision” to the likes of Deion Sanders, Devin Hester, Dante Hall... you cannot afford to play acchiapparella with these gentlemen in the open field, because basically after the first cut and the first block, we find them celebrating in the end zone as the opposite. And the impact of a soccer following in the end zone on the inertia of the game is very heavy.

If we want to be synthetic, the performance of a punter can be measured with three parameters: power, hangtime, management of the angle.

In relation to the first point, it goes without saying that power is nothing without control (of direction, of course).
The utility of having a leg powerful is self-evident: progress in the way of training the specialists, and perhaps the same evolution of the species over time have had the effect of bring up the bar. To make a name, when he played Reggie Roby his leg, was clearly the stronger of the league, above two or three yards over all on medium-sized to football.

Reggie Roby (1961-2005)

Today we find a good number of players that have that kind of dynamite in his leg. But let's not lose the focus, it is said depends not only on the power. Here, the presence of the other two parameters are crucial: pull kicks that are a long time to the air (hang time) and be able to close the ritornatore (the Deion Sanders or Devin Hester of the above) in a point of the field where the decisions that you can take are reduced to the bone, and predictable, within the limits of the possible: this usually means placing the well in that corner near the end zone in which the fair catch would be penalizing the opponent's attack and the options for the ritornatore would be objectively a few issues. This small field is located by the picturesque diction, Coffin Corner, to the letter “the angle of the coffin”, to illustrate how it can be at ease in that point the returner opponent. The wrong angle, even slightly, it triggers the ball on the touchback, giving the attack the opponent in a position of starting routine, without the pressure derived from having to play outside or inside of his own endzone (not counting the cutting of the yard on the statistics of net average)

The Coffin Corner Punt by manual

Another important parameter in the luggage of every punter is the hang time. The reason is quite clear: the more time that strange object with virtually no firmness remains in the air, the easier it will be for their teammates to converge towards the ritornatore opponent, prompting him to call the fair catch (or to give up on the return) or, worse, putting it under pressure with the risk that the latter will the ball and don't keep the control of the same (the so-called muffed punt, the nightmare of every special teams coach). Here is a complex structure and chemistry. Apart from the power, every punter in the time working to refine their trajectories of football, to the point where the hand leaves the ball in mid-air and the angle of the same, the movement of the leg, the impact with the instep of the foot to give a spin for the support of the ball in the air for more time. The all fallen maybe in the weather of Chicago, or Buffalo, when you are not in the condition, " blessed are kicking indoors or, better still, to Denver...

Next gen punting... Michael Dickson

As mentioned, the role in the time it has considerably increased its importance . Having a good punter is an asset that is quantifiable outside of the statistics unique to the role. For the attention of more and more paroxysmal on each potential advantage, the intrinsic value of the punter from the beginning of the third millennium has brought these specialists to the threshold of a new golden age. The list would be important, and certainly partial, but some players are definitely remembered. Darren Bennett, the punter the australian of the San Diego Chargers, who sometimes chooses to make a few nice tackle on ritornatori, a view of his sporting life previous. Donnie Jones, a globetrotter of the role that is able to crown an excellent career with the victory of the title to Philadelphia in his last year. Shane Lechler, probably the strongest of this generation, seven times to the Pro Bowl, including six in the first-team All-Pro: at the time should be the only punter to have finished two seasons with an average kick of over 50 yards (2009, 2011).

Shane Lechler

We can't leave out Pat McAfee of the Indianapolis Colts, a great punter, and showman of the same exalted level.
Among the players we simply point out that at the moment is probably the best of his role that is Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams.
Hekker has all the ingredients that define the so-called complete package. Explosive power, parabolic lens, the corners treacherous. We add that the trick play is to be respected as a few, in the light of the 13 of 22 for 184 yards and 1 TD in his career on launches. You have to highlight the statistics of Hekker was no decline after the first 4 years, that is not affected by the fact that the Rams have moved from a dome (St. Louis) to one outdoor stadium (in Los Angeles) and it is not really trivial.

The future of the position is probably already started. There is forgiven the joke, but for the punter “the future is the kangaroo”. Michael Dickson of the Seattle Seahawks, is a native of Sydney (as Darren Bennett) and began to attract glances already from 2018, his rookie season. A bit of hyperbole journalists say that the boy can instill doubts about the validity of the physical laws, but the fact remains that the hang time that he manages to get is really deadly for the opponents. Before arriving as a student to the Longhorns, his knowledge of football was only in the movie: by her own admission doesn't go over The Blind Side and Remember the Titans. He had promised himself to win the Ray Guy Trophy to the college, what made punctually. Views of his ability, completely peculiar, the Seahawks occasionally also use it for the kickoff, which he takes to drop.

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