17

March

Green Bay Packers 2010 Player Evaluations – Kickers – Mason Crosby

1) Introduction: The 2010 season would be Mason Crosby’s fourth as a Packer.  Coming off of a disappointing 2009, where Crosby regressed a bit rather than improved, he had some work to do to justify the incentive clause he earned, doubling his salary.

For anyone who doesn’t know, I haven’t been the biggest fan of Mason Crosby. If I’m an NFL coach, my placekicker needs to at least hit 80% of his attempts, which Crosby has never done. I’ve ranted about what I perceive as the unwarranted confidence the Packers show in Crosby ( Mason Crosby: Mediocrity Rewarded). I’ve lampooned Crosby (Mason Crosby Finds the Answer to His Problems).  But despite all of this, I promise to try to stay objective in this evaluation.

2) Profile

Mason Walker Crosby

Position: K
Height: 6-1    Weight: 212 lbs.

Born: September 3, 1984 in Lubbock, TX
College: Colorado (school history)    (Crosby college stats)
Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the 6th round (194th overall) of the 2007 NFL Draft.

3) Expectations coming into the season for that player: Be a more consistent kicker. The Packers brought no other kickers into camp,  allowing Crosby to totally focus on correcting his right hashmark and confidence  issues from 2009.  Mike McCarthy expressed full confidence that Crosby would be “just fine” and expected as much.

4) Player’s highlights/lowlights: Crosby came out on fire in the Packers’ first game against the Eagles. He hit field goals of 49 and 56 yards, had 3 PATs and was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. His proudest moment was surely in the Super Bowl, hitting a 23-yard field goal with 2:07 remaining for the Packers’ final points.  His biggest disappointment was probably hitting the upright with seven seconds left and a chance to win the game versus the Redskins. It was a 53 yarder with plenty of distance, and his second miss on the day.

5) Player’s contribution to the overall team success: Average. Crosby did not have many game-winning opportunities in 2010. He was called upon to salvage three points when the Packers offense sputtered, and did so at 78.6% average, an improvement over 2009′s 75%, but still below the 80% magic number.

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

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.