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SaintNik 07-14-2003 08:59 PM

Coffin Corner
Once upon a time, long ago, a punter was valued for his ability to nail the coffin corner. I may be showing my age here, so I'll clarify by stating that this is now known as directional kicking and has not been en vogue for some 25 years. Why? Well, the NFL is a league of trends (copycats) and the use of this practice went out when the idea that punting with hang time would allow the cover team to get down under the punt and also down the ball inside the 20 and preferrably inside the 10 yard line. This method also forces the punt returner to decide whether or not to attempt to field the ball. Doing so runs the risk of fumbling (remember Hakim fumbles!) and letting it go runs the risk of the cover team downing the ball close to the goal line. I don't have stats to go on, but it sure seems that more often than not the punter either boots it into the endzone or the returner simply fakes the fair catch, feezing the cover team, and the ball zips in for a touchback. Coaches may believe all the above considered, gives the best odds of opportunity and the punter may be more confident in his consistency.

The (coffin corner) directional method of punting, however, can still be found in use with success quite often both on the high school and college levels. Surely a professional punter could master this technique and use it to the teams advantage when called upon. Negatives include the possibility of the punter shanking the kick and the ball going out of bounds further upfield than the 20 yard line, and limiting the returner to being forced into fair catching the ball. The positives I believe ( no stats for proof) are that the ball would go out of bounds inside the 20 more often, pinning down the opposition consistently. Fans love the art of the punt that goes out of bounds inside the 1. This always gets the fans excited and demoralizes the opponent. The punt returner may still attempt to field the punt on the run, which may be more difficult leading to fumbles or simply force him out of bounds. This also is a method to take a great punt returner out of his game and also break down return blocking. Punting can be an exciting part of the game. Why aren't more trick or gadget type plays in general used to keep the defenses honest, at least one or two a game. Something other than the occasional reverse or the bomb down the sideline. Is it the fear of failure or of being ridiculed? Any thoughts?

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