When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used free agency to land punter
But the Buccaneers had a chance to win Sunday's game against the New York Jets – and, in fact, appeared to be on the verge of doing so after
The numbers are impressive on their own: seven punts for 326 yards, a gross average of 46.6 yards per and a net average of 45.3. Three of those seven kicks were downed inside the opponents' 20 (two inside the 10) and none went into the end zone for touchbacks. By contrast, despite that one amazing blast, Malone had a net average or 37.7 yards per punt.
No Buccaneer punter has ever had a combination of stats quite like that before. Koenen is the first player in team history to combine a gross of at least 45.0 and a net of at least 45.0 with three punts inside the 20 on at least five punts. If one drops the qualifications to at least four punts in a game, then there is one other such outing in franchise history…and it also belongs to Koenen. On October 16 of his first year with the Bucs, Koenen posted a 47.3-yard gross and a 49.8-yard net with three inside-the-20s against New Orleans.
"I don’t know if I’ve seen a punting and kicking performance, in my 26 years [in coaching], like I saw yesterday from Mike Koenen," said Koenen's appreciative head coach, Greg Schiano, on Monday. "It was just tremendous. I thought our special teams played very, very well."
Indeed, as Schiano points out, Koenen's contributions didn't end at that punting line. The ninth-year veteran also handles kickoffs for the team, and he routinely blasted them out of the back of the far end zone. Of his five kickoffs, four went into (or beyond) the end zone and were not returned, producing touchbacks. He can't be blamed for the one that didn't – it was a free kick after a first-quarter safety, which he actually punted 67 yards from the Bucs' 20 to the Jets' 13, which is about as good of an outcome as his coaches could have hoped for.
Koenen had another contribution to the kicking efforts, too, one he performs every game but rarely draws attention for. That's a good thing. Koenen serves as the team's holder on placekicks, the middle man between long-snapper
Had the Buccaneers' held onto the lead Lindell's kick provided for 34 seconds, the individual performances such as Koenen's kicking or
New return man
No one on that crew had a better day than Michael Koenen, however. In fact, few Buccaneer punters have ever enjoyed as strong of an outing as Koenen did against the Jets on Sunday.