Brian Billick: Retired Ravens Punter Sam Koch ‘Legitimately Hall Of Fame Material’

In 2021, John Lynch became the 36th defensive back in history to be enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A nine-time Pro Bowler, Lynch left his mark as a safety and changed the future of the position.

Former Ravens head coach Brian Billick compared Lynch to recently retired punter Sam Koch. Billick pointed out how both Lynch and Koch redefined their respective positions — making Koch’s case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame a strong one, according to Billick.

“When you look at those that go into the Hall of Fame … you can have just the sheer stats, the volume of your play, but for some it’s also, ‘Did you define?’ John Lynch is a perfect example,” Billick said on Glenn Clark Radio May 19. “John went in because he kind of redefined the position — dropping a guy in the box and that type of thing. … That’s why Sam Koch is a Hall of Fame candidate, because he did change the game at that position. That to me is the ultimate definition of a Hall of Fame player.”

Joining the prestigious Hall of Fame is a very rare feat for a punter. The Hall of Fame has enshrined just one punter in its 59-year history — Ray Guy in 2014. Guy, a first-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in the 1973 draft, led the league in yards per punt three times and separated himself from the field at his position.

Guy averaged 42.4 yards per punt during his career, and his career high was 45.3. Meanwhile, Koch’s career average was 45.3 and his career high was 47.1. Koch’s best year came in 2015, when the then-33-year-old earned Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors.

Drafted by the Ravens in the sixth round of the 2006 draft to replace departed punter Dave Zastudil, Koch played for Billick for two seasons. Billick says “no one could’ve anticipated” Koch’s sustained level of success.

“When you look at the career that he’s had, I would definitely say this is Hall of Fame level when you look at the longevity [and] the impact,” Billick said. “We always talked about, particularly in the way prior to Lamar [Jackson], the way the Ravens had won primarily [was] with the defense and the scoring differential.”

Current Ravens head coach John Harbaugh took over for Billick in 2008 following a 10-year stint with the Philadelphia Eagles. Harbaugh was the Eagles’ special teams coordinator from 1998-2006, then served as their defensive backs coach in 2007.

Harbaugh came to Baltimore with a niche in special teams, and his utilization of Koch has played a pivotal role for his success in Charm City.

Just think back to Super Bowl XLVII, when Koch was set to punt from his own end zone with the Ravens up five against the San Francisco 49ers with just 12 seconds remaining in regulation. Harbaugh had Koch take the safety to limit the risk of the play.

Koch executed the play perfectly, running around the end zone and killing eight seconds while keeping Baltimore ahead by three. The clock ran out during Koch’s punt following the safety, giving the Ravens their second Super Bowl victory.

In the end, Koch served as Baltimore’s consistent special teams star for 16 seasons.

“Whether it goes back to Kyle Richardson or Sam Koch … I don’t think people fully realize how important Kyle Richardson and Sam Koch were to the total dynamic, not only in our teams but even afterwards for the success of that team, [they were] absolutely huge,” Billick said. “To have the run of punters that we had in Baltimore is unprecedented … I think Sam — as hard as it is from that position — is legitimately Hall of Fame material at the punter position.”

For more from Billick, listen to the full interview here:

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