Outlook: After a brief flirtation with Tom Malone, in which the former USC kicker was paid a substantial amount of money to come hang out with coach for a couple months, Ryan is again Seattle's uncontested punter. I write opinions here. Not much I write is not an opinion. I clearly do not think Ryan is a good punter, but I have a healthy modesty when it comes to that opinion. It is possible that Ryan is a good punter and that his special teams counterparts undermined him.
We might find out this season. We might not. Seattle spent quite a bit, when you think about it*, to sign gunner Sean Morey. Apart from that, they haven't added a ton of team speed. In fact, I'm not sure signing Morey counts as adding team speed. Kam Chancellor will likely play some special teams, and he has long-strider speed. There is Jameson Konz if Jameson Konz makes the final 53, which seems like a long shot. But apart from those three, unless Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond III or Earl Thomas are involved, Seattle will have the same basic crew sprinting towards the return man.
To me, attempting to pick out and project the performance of a punt cover unit is next to impossible. I also think there isn't nearly as much difference between the cover units of different teams as there is difference between the punting ability of different punters. Just about every team stacks their cover units with the same kind of players: depth. And it's penny wise pound foolish to keep a superior special teams player in favor of a superior talent.
However, even if a team can not dedicate much towards the improvement of its cover teams, improvement might still happen. And maybe Ryan will look like a stud this season: kicking it long but, for once, watching his teammates swarm around the returner. I am open to the possibility.
*The final question regarding compensatory picks is whether Morey's salary is enough for him to be a "qualifying free agent." His average salary over three years is just $798,000. That puts him on the low end. If he makes the Pro Bowl again, Seattle is screwed. Pro Bowl picks are largely decided by reputation and Morey is famous for this brief moment of glory. I think Seattle is playing with fire.
In 2010, punts by Jon Ryan will be:
More valuable because of improved special teams. (186 votes)
No more valuable because of how Ryan punts. (104 votes)
290 total votes