Ravens punter Sam Koch, who recently signed a two-year extension to stay in Baltimore through the 2022 season, says he’s fortunate to extend his 14-year run with the Ravens, whom he calls the best organization in football.
Entering this offseason, he had one year left on his contract with a salary cap hit of $3.25 million. With the Ravens tight against the cap, they extended the reliable Koch and brought his 2020 cap number down to $2.15 million.
“You’d love to be able to stay here and want to be here, especially with the best organization there is in football,” Koch said on Glenn Clark Radio March 19. “To have the type of people that surround me and my family like they do there at the facility, it’s very fortunate and I don’t take it for granted. I think that’s one of the things that kind of is able to keep me there because I’m never satisfied.”
Koch, who turns 38 in August, was drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2003 NFL Draft and hasn’t missed a game since he broke into the league. He’s had 1,046 punts throughout his 14 years, posting an average of 45.4 yards per punt. He’s also done his part to revolutionize punting.
Though Koch only punted 40 times in 2019, he’s proud of what he accomplished. He said there was only one punt — which occurred against the Seattle Seahawks Oct. 20 — that he really wants back.
“I can always do better,” Koch said. “Some of the balls could be a little higher, but I executed the way I wanted, and some could have been better, but I was really mad about one particular one. That was Seattle. That was the thing. I know that even though our offense is doing the way they are, I have limited opportunities to showcase what I can do and I’ve got to make the most of every single opportunity.”
Forty punts was easily the fewest amount of times Koch has ever punted in a season – the next-highest mark was 60, which was his number of punts in 2014 and 2018 – and he’s been happy to adjust to the Ravens’ high-powered offense (No. 2 in the league at 407.6 yards per game in 2019). Baltimore was also aggressive on fourth down last year thanks to a historic running game and head coach John Harbaugh’s analytics-based decision-making in those situations.
That meant Koch took a U-turn quite a few times in 2019.
“In some games this year, I would run down, we would do our normal routine. I’d have a couple [practice] punts, and then on third down I’d get ready to get over toward the sideline, get lined up and we’d go for it,” Koch said. “It was almost like every time, I’d start walking back, I’d catch eyes with [Anthony] Levine, he’d go, ‘Sam, go sit down. This is Lamar [Jackson’s] time.’ It was like that almost every game. It’s great to see. It’s fun to be a part of. With that said, I still have to stay focused, and when the time is called I still have to go out and I’ve got to execute.”
Koch touched on some other topics, including hanging out with Gordon Ramsay and Marshal Yanda’s retirement:
– Gordon Ramsay, a world-renowned chef and the host of Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen,” was in town recently and hung out with Koch, who taught Ramsay a little bit about punting after Ramsay showed him a little bit about cooking a steak.
Koch enjoyed working with Ramsay, who has an intense on-air persona.
“I always thought it’d be really cool to meet a guy like that and see how he is in person,” Koch said. “When you first meet him you realize, ‘Man, it’s kind of like Ray Lewis on the football field compared to Ray Lewis in the locker room.’ Ray Lewis in the locker room is just one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, and then on the field he takes that stuff seriously.”
“When meeting him, I kind of saw a lot of myself because when it comes to game time, I get so focused in what I’m doing, whether it be [that or] practice, but yet I can be a nice guy as well. … From what I knew of him on a TV show wasn’t how it was when I met him. He was just an amazing, genuine, personable guy.”
– Marshal Yanda recently retired, meaning Koch is one of the few Ravens remaining from the 2012 Super Bowl team (along with kicker Justin Tucker, long snapper Morgan Cox, cornerback Jimmy Smith and special teams ace Anthony Levine). Koch has fond memories of Yanda, whom he considers a future Hall of Famer.
Koch’s favorite Yanda story occurred in New England. Koch explained Yanda always took a bottle of water and sprayed it all over his body and face, making it harder for defensive linemen to grab hold of him. In cold temperatures, he’d be covered in icicles. As for that game against the Patriots …
“It was one of the coldest games I had ever been in,” Koch said. “I don’t know if it was because of the humidity up there or what, but it was bitter to the point that when you would walk out onto the field and get out of the way of that heater, as you’re walking and the wind’s blowing it feels like it’s burning your skin. It’s so cold. But he’s out there with his whole uniform iced up and his face mask. I don’t see how anybody could hold onto him.”
“Somebody like Marshal Yanda, there’s not enough words to say what type of athlete he was and how tough he was and how he was able to play this game for as long as he could and do the things that he did. He’s one of those people that I look forward to staying in touch with throughout my career and throughout my life and hopefully always stay good friends with a guy like that who’ll have your back and everything.”
For more from Koch, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox