Bucs' punting game is struggling

TAMPA, Fla. -- At a salary of $3.25 million this season, Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Michael Koenen is among the league's top paid punters.

But that doesn't mean he's among the best punters. In fact, the numbers suggest Koenen is the worst punter in the league.

Koenen's gross average is 39.7 yards per punt. That makes him the only punter in the league averaging less than 40 yards per punt. His net average, 35.2 yards, also is last in the league. In Sunday's loss to Atlanta, Koenen averaged only 30.3 yards per punt.

So what's gone wrong with Koenen, who has put up much better numbers throughout the rest of his career?

One answer is the Bucs have messed up Koenen because they've asked him to alter his punting style. They've asked him to sacrifice distance for hang time and they've asked him to be a directional punter.

The logic is that will result in fair catches, instead of returns. On the surface, that's not bad logic. But the reality is Koenen no longer is allowed to just punt as far as he can. He's taking distance off his kicks. That's not always a bad thing. But the Bucs have taken things too far with Koenen. He's taking too much distance off his punts.