Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Crosby as a Longwell re-run?

Green Bay Press-Gazette sports editor Mike Vandermause has an interesting column today. He's suggesting not only that the Packers not give up on K Mason Crosby but that fans should actually "cut him some slack."

Why? Beause we have seen this before. Not from Crosby. But from another Packers' kicker this decade. One who actually went on to be the leading scorer in Packers history: Ryan Longwell.

As Vandermause says in the column, "Longwell made just 20 of 31 field goals eight years ago and ranked 33rd among NFL kickers, but bounced back by converting 85.2 percent of his kicks over the next three seasons. His 81.6 percent career mark ranks No. 1 in Packers history."

There's also another example of a currently well-regarded veteran kicker that Vandermause cites as having gone through struggles. "Neil Rackers of the Arizona Cardinals has been the most accurate kicker in the NFL over the past two seasons (41 of 45, 91.1 percent) and in 2005 converted 40 of 42 field goals (95.2 percent). But in 2001, the same year Longwell struggled, Rackers made just 17 of 28 kicks (60.7 percent), and during a two-year span in 2006 and 2007 made just 73.1 percent of his field goals."

So, while Crosby shouldn't get a free pass -- in fact, Vandermause says it would be useful to give Crosby some competition in next year's camp -- there seems to be some precedent for trying to work through this current stretch of misses.

And, while nearer the bottom than the top in kicker ratings this season, Crosby's leg strength is something that is hard to come by. Let's just hope he doesn't cost the Pack a spot in the playoffs...or a loss that should have been a win.

You can read Vandermause's column here.

For a chart on current kicker stats, click here.