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.

13

March

Green Bay Packers’ Mason Crosby: Mediocrity Rewarded

It would be difficult to dispute that Mason Crosby had a bad year kicking field goals for the Green Bay Packers. Among kickers with at least 15 attempts, his 75% average field goal percentage (FG%)  was better than only 6 other kickers in the NFL. Towards the end of the season, Crosby collected “votes of confidence” from Packers coaches like Ted Thompson collects wide receivers (more than should be necessary).

Despite his less than eventful 2009, Crosby somehow triggered incentives in his contract that has doubled his salary for 2010, from $500K to 1M. As Don King loves to say, God Bless America!  And from Mason’s perspective, God Bless his agent. What a great contract he negotiated. His client can have a bad year and still manage to earn a 100% raise.

I can only sit and wonder what those incentives were? Did he have to…

Finish higher than 30th in the league?
Hit 90% of his kicks into the practice net on the sideline?
Hit 95% of the footballs he swung his leg at?
Kick the ball with his right leg 95% of the time?
Never put his pants on backwards?

In all seriousness, when compared to the rest of the kickers in the league, Crosby is in the lower 20th percentile. In his 3 years with the Packers, he has never made more than 79.5% of his field goals. For a quick comparison, Ryan Longwell averaged 80%, 88%, 83% and 87% in his first four years with the Packers.

I’ve always considered 80% to be the lowest field goal percentage an NFL team should tolerate. In my book, a FG% of less than 80% is like a batting average below .250 in baseball.  Anyone can have a bad year, but 3 years in a row makes a bad career.

And yet, Crosby has his defenders. Mason Crosby will be fine, I hear over and over. He just has to work on the mental side, just has to straighten out the right hashmark issue, just needs a better holder, etc. My question for those people is, what evidence do you have that Mason Crosby is capable of being better than he has been? When has he shown that he can be an 85% kicker? NEVER, is the answer.

In the last three years, here’s how many NFL kickers had a FG% of 85% or higher: