WANT to hear something crazy? Here in 2014, there are still NFL fans who regard Kickers as unimportant. Anyone who says that is only showing how little they understand this game.
For instance, last year the Eagles scored 442 points, 114 of which were scored off the foot of K Alex Henery. (BTW: That’s 25.7%) Besides that, having a Kicker who is clutch, can win you a close game. Having one who is not (New Orleans 26-24) can cost you dearly. Kicker is an extremely important position to get right. Contrary to popular belief, it is NOT the least important position in football.
That’s probably why Special Teams coach Dave Fipp is on a mission this offseason. While Henery was great in some areas, he was sorely lacking in others. As Fipp tells it “The biggest challenge with Alex is he’s very accurate, over his career, on field goals 48 yards or less. A year ago, there were only two guys that were better than him in the National Football League. So when you’re looking into improving the position, it’s an interesting dynamic. You’ve got a guy who’s a really accurate field goal kicker, but his kickoffs are not up to par.”
The team’s answer to that was to bring in some competition in the form of undrafted rookie Carey “Murderleg” Spear. Back in May, I wrote that Spear was just here to push Henery, not replace him, and based on the inaccuracy shown by Spear in June, he may not only fail to replace Henery, but he may fail to give him much of a push either.
The bottom line on Henery is that he just doesn’t have a very strong leg, which is a killer here in the Mid-Atlantic region, where in cold weather barometric pressure isn’t combatted by eddies of rising air, so the ball doesn’t carry as long. (Think tire pressure winter vs summer.) A weak legged K in December is a liability, not just on long field goals, but on kick-offs, and kicks vs the wind from anywhere but dead center.
I said earlier this month that my hope was that Spear would beat out Henery in camp, but from everything I’ve been able to compile since then, unless the Birds go out and sign a guy like Rob Bironas, or unless Spear has found himself a Mr. Miyagi between OTA’s and Training Camp, this is Henery’s job.
My Early Favorite: Alex Henery
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