8

August

Debunking the Myths About Green Bay Packers Kicker Mason Crosby

Green Bay Packers Kicker Mason CrosbyMason Crosby is a below-average NFL kicker. If you disagree, please allow me to prove it to you.

I really didn’t want to write about Mason Crosby again. Most of you know how I feel and I’ve handled the topic before. I’ve railed on the Packers coddling of Crosby. I’ve presented some stats that questioned Crosby being rewarded with a 100% raise in 201o.

Yet, some of you still believe (or have convinced yourselves) that the Packers are lucky to have Crosby. You have a ready set of excuses.

  • He kicks in the cold weather.
  • He’s has to kick a lot of long field goals.
  • He went five for six during the Packers playoff run.
  • He does a great job with kickoffs.
  • He’s not great, but he’s an above-average NFL kicker.
  • There is nobody available that would be any better.

The first three of those statements are true but are not valid excuses, as I will show. The last three items are just outright untrue. If you believe them, you also believe in unicorns and pots of gold at the end of rainbows. I am going to dispel all of these myths with something that can not be disputed – cold hard facts.

I don’t dislike Mason Crosby – really, I don’t. I even gave him a “B” in our end-of-year player evaluations for 2010 (mostly because of his performance during the playoff run). But what I do dislike is the plethora of fans who pay no attention to the facts. They create their own reality and support their stance with throw-away one liners that have little substance.

So, consider this my “Mason Manifesto.” I am going to present to you the real facts and debunk each of those myths mentioned above.

First, some background facts:

Crosby’s overall field goal percentages from High School to the NFL:

HS Y4       63.6%
COL Y1    77.8%
COL Y2    82.6%
COL Y3    75.0%
COL Y4    67.9%
NFL Y1    79.5%
NFL Y2    79.4%
NFL Y3    75.0%
NFL Y4    78.6%

In the last four years, here’s how many NFL kickers (with 20 or more attempts) had a FG% of 80% or higher and where Crosby ranked overall.

16

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations — Kickers — Tim Masthay

1) Introduction: Signed to a reserve/future contract in January of 2010, Tim Mathsay came to the Packers as a  former All-State High School soccer player, who both punted and kicked off for the Kentucky Wildcats. One thing he had never done, however, was punt in an NFL game. He was brought in to compete with another punter who had never had a sniff of the NFL, Chris Bryan, the Australian Rules footballer. To this scenario I,  like most Packers fans, could only shake my head and ask, “Really Ted?”

2) Profile

Tim Masthay

Position: P
Height: 6-2    Weight: 198 lbs.

Born: March 16, 1987 in Pittsburgh, PA
College: Kentucky   (school history)

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player:  The  expectations for Masthay were pretty low; be better than Jeremy Kapinos was and don’t cost the Packers any games. The knock on Masthay was that he had a slow get-off and was inconsistant, pretty typical for a young inexperienced punter. After beating out Bryan in a tight pre-season battle, Mathsay had improved his mechanics but still had much work to do on his inconsistancy.

4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: Over the first half of the season, Masthay was meeting his low expectations, doing a pedestrian job without making any glaring mistakes. And then came the Jets game. I was at that game, and really couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The Packers had somehow coaxed Ray Guy out of retirement.

Masthay punted 8 times that game, only one was returned (0 yds.) and five were downed inside the 20 yard line. Mike McCarthy called it the finest punting performance he had ever seen and Masthay was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Masthay had almost as good a game in the NFC Championship against Chicage, once again dropping 5 of 8 punts inside the 20.

While Masthay didn’t have any glaring lowlights, he was in a bit of a funk (as were the rest of the Packers) for the Miami and Washington games. masthay had only a 35yd net average for those games, allowing 5 of his 11 punts to be returned for a total of 70 yards.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Nobody appreciates the value of a good punter and winning the field position game more than I do. I have been told by many people how it’s a different league and punters don’t matter any more. Bull.  Over the second half of the season, Masthay was as important to the Packers as any other special teams player.

4

August

This Just In… Packers’ Mason Crosby Finds the Answer to His Problems

After several years and much hard work, the Green Bay Packers and Mason Crosby today found the answer to his kicking problems – no defense. Yes, it seems that with no rush, Crosby is just fine, thank you.

Without a rush, Crosby was able to go five for five in field goals attempts at Tuesday night’s practice. When the Packers went to their full-team two minute drills, Crosby was given the opportunity to “win the game” with a last second 39 yard field goal. Of course, he missed.

Sadly, that wasn’t the shocking part. What ensued is fairly incredible. The Packers allowed Crosby to line up and take the kick again, but this time with NO DEFENSE. And of course, Crosby makes it.

Believe it or not, I’m not here to kill Mason Crosby. He’s certainly trying his best (we hope). No, I’m here to kill the Packers’ coaching staff and how they have handled Crosby. They have pandered to Crosby like he’s their supermodel girlfriend. Anything he wants. Anyway he wants it. No competition. Nobody to push his sorry ass and make him fight for his job.

It’s too late to call for anything to be done now. For better or worse, Mason Crosby will be the Packers’ kicker in 2010. What I’m upset about is the Packers’ blind faith in a guy who has so obviously underachieved for several years.  And to think he “earned” a 100% raise this season. Wouldn’t we all like a job like that?

It’s almost a certainty that several games this season will be won or lost on the leg of Mason Crosby. Think about that for a moment.

This isn’t a new complaint from me. I’ve written about this the last TWO offseasons.

2010: Mediocrity Rewarded

2009: Kicking Game

But alas, here we are on the cusp of a season with with so much promise, and several times this year, the Packers will hand their fate over to Mason Crosby. The visual on that does not make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside…

The Packers organization has done an awful job with special teams the last few years and the kickers, in particular. Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy and Shawn Slocum, this is on you.

4

March

One Solution to the Packers Punting Situation; Bring Home the Turk

I don’t have to tell you how bad the Green Bay Packers’ punting game was in 2009. Still, Jeremy Kapinos did a better job than Derrick Frost, whom the Packers infamously kept in favor of Jon Ryan in 2008.  Unfortunately, Kapinos was last or close to last in the NFL in almost every punting category in 2009.

I don’t think it’s necessary to throw too many statistics at you in this case, so I’ll just give you a few quick ones:

The only category where Kapinos was not awful, but simply mediocre, was punting average, where Kapinos’ 43.8 gross yds per kick average placed him 16th in the NFL. Of course, we all know it’s net yards per kick average that counts most. Kapinos was dead last in the league in that category. Equally important, Kapinos was 31st in the NFL in punts inside the 20, had the second-most touchbacks, and was dead last (a recurring theme) in punts fair caught.

At this past week’s Scouting Combine, Coach Mike McCarthy had some harsh words: “For him to be on our team next year, he needs to improve,” McCarthy said. “The performance in that position will improve with him or without him.”

Well, it looks like it will be without him. As I write this on Wednesday evening, I see that the Packers have offered tenders to nine of their own free agents, but Jeremy Kapinos is not one of them.

And by the way, as this artricle on ProFootballTalk.com states,  he is not happy about it.

So what do the Packers have up their sleeve? Certainly they don’t plan on giving the job to street free agent Tim Masthay, who has been described thusly:  “The primary knocks on him are inconsistency, questionable directional punting ability and slower get-off time because of his 2½-step style”. Yes, that sounds promising…

No, the Packers obviously have another plan. They could be planning to select a punter in the late rounds of the NFL Draft, or more likely, will wait to see which college punters go undrafted and place some quick phone calls to them at the conclusion of the draft.

The problem with that plan is that it still leaves punting as a huge question mark. In this scenario, there can be not even an ounce of confidence that the punting problem has really been fixed.