FOXBORO -- How often is a punter the most talked about guy after a game?
Probably some time in the neighborhood of never. It's not like offenses are proud of consistently booting the ball away. Both the Patriots and Jets did that very thing Thursday night at Gillette Stadium. New England punter Ryan Allen was called to service 11 times in his team's 13-11 win. His 514 yards doubled last week's total and tied the franchise record.
His performance also inspired Bill Belichick to talk about punting in more general terms. Friday afternoon, while digesting the Jets game during his afternoon press conference, he was asked some atypical questions.
Did you know, in his 14 years as a head coach, Belichick has employed a left-footed punter at the start of every season?
"I think it's a coincidence, really. I don't go into it with an attitude like, we have to have a left-footed punter," he shrugged. "It's like facing a right-handed pitcher or a left-handed pitcher. The basic rotation of the ball is fundamentally the same, it's just backwards."
The subject of punters-as-holders caught the coach's attention. Belichick dove into the evolution of the position, talking about how teams really moved away from using position players as holders in the 90's. Rule changes expanding roster size meant fewer players had to double up on roles, and the kicking game got more specialized.
"Eventually, teams started going to just pure long snappers. You also see that now in college, most college teams have a pure snapper as well as a pure kicker and a pure punter. I just think when you have that situation, if your punter can hold, then the amount of snaps and time that those guys get to practice together, work together, meet together, watch film together, watch slow-motion film, and concentrate on the technique as opposed to the backup quarterback or somebody like that who has a lot of other responsibilities," he explained.
"It's [about] time. If your holder can be your punter, then the amount of practice time, consistency, and preparation time those guys have together so outweighs what it would be with any other player."
And there's also the matter of depth.
"If it's a position player, like a defensive back or a receiver, and something happens then, who's your backup holder? Because they're regular players, not only do you have to replace them at their offensive or defensive position, but you have to replace them in the kicking game as well."
So the job is Allen's. It seems he's handling it well enough.