What does New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick love more than some good, old-fashioned punting?
Apparently, some good, old-fashioned left-footed punting.
And that may be for good reason.
It turns out that the wind patterns inside Gillette Stadium can present something of an advantage for left-footed punters, as noted in a riveting analytical piece on left-footed punting by the MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas.
The Patriots’ three most-recent punters — Ryan Allen, Zoltan Mesko and Chris Hanson — all were lefties, while most have been in Belichick’s tenure. And in Mesko’s eyes, something about the Patriots’ home stadium makes it advantageous, even though Belichick claims he just wants a good punter, regardless of footedness.
“That stadium,” Mesko told Vrentas, “is kind of made for lefties.”
So how is it special? Well, science.
“In our quest for answers about the left-footed tradition in New England, Mesko has an intriguing theory,” Vrentas wrote. “In Gillette Stadium, which opened in 2002, there is a dominant wind pattern. It comes in through the open end of the stadium, and blows across the field on the diagonal, from right to left. In other words, if you are facing the open end, and the goalposts are at 12 o’clock, the wind blows toward 8 o’clock.
“Belichick himself acknowledged this in November of Gillette’s inaugural season: ‘(The wind) runs part of the way down the field at the open end, at the lighthouse end, but then it seems to quarter more toward from the home bench (the right side of the field, if you’re facing the open end) to the visiting bench.’”
Allen was a little more reticent to determine if he was at an advantage as a lefty, but the science behind the architecture of Gillette and the role it plays certainly is compelling.
The wind possibly could gust to as fast 25 mph Saturday, so if you’re really in the mood to watch some wind theory put to the test, compare Allen and Tennessee Titans’ righty punter Brett Kern.