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The Complete Guide to Kickology 3rd edition by Mike Herman and Guests exclusive to Footballguys

Contributing FBG Staff members • Mike Herman • Mike Anderson • Will Grant • Jeff Pasquino • Chase Stuart • Maurice Tremblay Contributing Freelance Writer • Andrew Brecher

Featuring interview material from the following NFL kickers • Connor Barth • Mason Crosby • Jay Feely • Robbie Gould • Ryan Longwell • Joe Nedney • Jeff Reed


Table of Contents 1. Preface.........................................................................................................................................................3 2. The History of Kicking ..................................................................................................................................4 3. Fantasy Kicker Scoring Systems ...............................................................................................................11 4. How Many Points Do Kickers Score Each Year? ......................................................................................12 5. How Many Points Do Kickers Score Each Week? ....................................................................................14 6. What Happens in 1.3 Seconds? ................................................................................................................15 7. Which Teams Are Scoring Kicking Points? ...............................................................................................17 8. Top Kickers: Where Do They Come From and Where Do They Go? .......................................................19 9. The Greatest Field Goal Kickers Ever .......................................................................................................20 Section by guest FBG staff member Chase Stuart 10. Bonus Scorers .........................................................................................................................................29 11. Consistent Scorers...................................................................................................................................32 12. Squandered Scoring Opportunities..........................................................................................................34 13. Field Goal Opportunities ..........................................................................................................................36 14. Accuracy ..................................................................................................................................................38 15. Why Do They Keep Getting Better? ........................................................................................................40 16. Attempts-Adjusted Accuracy (AAA) .........................................................................................................44 Section by guest freelance writer Andrew Brecher 17. The K-ball.................................................................................................................................................47 18. The Kickoff ...............................................................................................................................................50 19. Do Good Offenses Produce High Scoring Kickers? ................................................................................51 20. Do Poor Red Zone Offenses Produce High Scoring Kickers? ................................................................53 21. Do Good Defenses Produce High Scoring Kickers? ...............................................................................55 22. Do Personnel Changes Impact Kicker Scoring? .....................................................................................57 23. Domes vs. Outdoor Stadiums..................................................................................................................58 24. Weather Report........................................................................................................................................60 25. Kickers vs. Mother Nature .......................................................................................................................66 26. Grass vs. Synthetic Turfs.........................................................................................................................68 27. Profile of a Top Five Kicker......................................................................................................................73 28. Profile of the Year Prior to Being a Top Five Kicker ................................................................................74 29. Drafting a Kicker ......................................................................................................................................77 30. Buying a Kicker in an Auction ..................................................................................................................79 31. Dynasty Leagues .....................................................................................................................................80 Section by guest FBG staff members Mike Anderson, Will Grant, Maurice Tremblay, and Jeff Pasquino 32. The Stadiums: Vital Statistics ..................................................................................................................82 33. The Stadiums According to Kickers?.......................................................................................................84 34. The Stadiums: Kicking Results ................................................................................................................86 35. K-defensive Factors .................................................................................................................................90 36. The Lesser Known ...................................................................................................................................91 37. Bibliography and Other Kicking Information Resources ..........................................................................92

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

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1. Preface kick⋅ol⋅o⋅gy [kik-ol-uh-jee] - noun 1. The science devoted to the study of striking, driving, forcing, etc., with the foot or feet. 2. Football: The science devoted to the study of scoring (a field goal or a conversion) by place-kicking or dropkicking the ball. Introduction “Your toddler's barely learned to walk -but you could swear you just saw her kicking a rubber ball. It's true: By age two, she'll have the balance and foot-eye coordination necessary to do this. But don't expect her to bend it like Beckham anytime soon. At first, all she'll be able to do is hold her foot in front of her body and swiftly swat at the ball to push it forward. By age three, she'll figure out how to swing her leg like a pendulum to send the ball soaring. It'll take her another couple of years to have the coordination to run up to the ball before punting it.” - Parenting

Small Boy Kicking a Football, 1916

Kicking a ball appears to be a human instinct. It surfaces at an early age in children in cultures all around the world. It continues throughout childhood and into adulthood, as evidenced by the games we play. Consequently, it is not surprising that placekicker is the favorite position of most fans of American football. A Few Notes and Disclaimers ƒ

Welcome to the third edition of the Complete Guide to Kickology. Like the first two editions, it contains plenty of dehumanizing statistical fantasy analyses of NFL kickers. New to the third edition however are several sections that take a look at kicking and kickers in the real world.

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Analysis on season total statistics typically date back to 1990

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Analysis on individual game statistics typically date back to 2001

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Top 5 kicking numbers are highlighted in yellow, 6th thru 10th are highlighted in lime green

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More than one section of this article explores statistical correlations between kicking and other factors. Whether there is truly a cause and effect relationship for each of these, we cannot be certain. Each reader will have to decide for themselves whether they feel a correlation is a relationship or just a statistical coincidence.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology attempts to be a fairly comprehensive source on pro football kicking, although that is probably an impossible task. If you have any information to add, requests for additions, comments, or questions please contact Footballguys’ Department of Kickology by e-mail at herman@footballguys.com

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Follow Kickology on Twitter: http://twitter.com/HermanKickology

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

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2. The History of Kicking “If you would understand anything, observe its beginning and its development.” - Aristotle

Timeline of kicking history, milestones, and rule changes that impacted the NFL kicking game: 2500 B.C. The ancient Egyptians played a game involving kicking a ball. It is believed that the balls were typically made from seeds wrapped in linen and that the games were part of fertility rituals involving a very large number of participants. 2500 B.C. The Chinese game of Tsu Chu (or Cuju) is documented in military manuals of the Han Dynasty which started in 206 B.C., although many historians believe it may have originated several centuries early. Tsu translates as "to kick the ball with feet" and Chu as "a ball made of leather and stuffed." The game involved two teams trying to kick the ball through an approximately 12” diameter hole in silk nets strung between two 30 foot tall bamboo poles. Use of hands was not allowed. 1600 B.C. Discovered in Mexico, the oldest Mesoamerican ball court dates back this far. The Mayans adopted the earlier game of Pitz as Pok-A-Tok, which involves trying to get a rubber ball through a small vertical stone hoop approximately 23 feet in the air without the use of hands. After a game, the captain of the winning team was sometimes beheaded. The ritual sacrifice was a highly desirable and honorable goal, and possibly served as a shortcut to heaven.

Chinese game of Tsu Chu

1000 B.C. Australian Aborigines have played the game of Marngrook for a long time, although no one has a clear idea of just how long. The game involves trying to catch a kicked ball. Mayan Pok-A-Tok court

500 B.C. The rules of the ancient Greek game of Episkyros are unclear, but it apparently allowed the use of hands. Some suggest it may have been similar to Rugby. Two teams played on a field and it involved a ball. Another ancient Greek game, Harpaston, was played on a field with a center line and end goal line. The object of the game was to pass, kick, or run the ball past the opposing team's goal. 50 B.C. The Roman game of Harpastum likely evolved from the similarly named Greek predecessor. The word means "the small ball game". The object of the game was to pass the ball, either by hand or by foot, across the opposing team’s goal line. Another version involved a team trying to keep the ball on its half of the field as long as possible. Tackling was allowed. Julius Caesar utilized the game for military training. th Harpastum remained popular into the 6 century A.D. It may have influenced subsequent ball games throughout Medieval Europe. 300 A.D. The Japanese game of Kemari was a non-competitive sport using a ball made of deerskin stuffed with sawdust. Players tried to keep the ball from hitting the ground by juggling it with their feet and passing it from one to another. The playing field, Kikutsubo, was marked at the corners by four different trees: cherry, maple, willow and pine. www.footballguys.com

Greek games Harpaston & Episkyros A few theorists believe that all ball games descended from either the Egyptian or Chinese game, whichever came first. It appears likely however that most of the ancient games developed independent of each other. This attests to the essential importance to the human race of kicking a ball in a game.

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1100 Of the various medieval ball games that developed in the areas that would eventually become Great Britain, the especially violent Mob Football was the most popular. It was typically played between neighboring villages, with each team’s town square essentially serving as the goal. Each team/mob tried to force the ball into the opponent’s village center. 1314 King Edward II of England issued the first ban of football. Several subsequent kings also tried to ban it. The game was considered to be unchristian and it distracted people from the traditional sports of fencing and archery. 1527 The first documented reference to Celtic football (Caid) was found in the Statute of Galway, which allowed the playing of football and archery but banned hurling and handball. The field version of Caid, as opposed to the cross country version, involved kicking a ball through a goal formed by two tree boughs. Caid may have derived from the Welsh game of Knappan, which may have descended from the Viking game of Knattleikr. 1600 Native North Americans played a kicking-game / mock-battle called Pasuckuakohowog, which translates as "they gather to play ball with the foot." The game often included hundreds of participants, playing on a mile long field or beach with goals at each end.

Native American game of Pasuckuakohowog

The Rugby School

When the European settlers arrived in America, they found the Native Americans already playing a kicking game of a grand scale. The hours or days long event would conclude with a great feast. Two centuries later back in England at the Rugby School, William Webb Ellis played a key role in the development of Rugby, which in turn would play a role in the development of American Football several decades later.

1823 Legend has it that William Webb Ellis, a student at the Rugby School in England, illegally picked up a ball during a football/soccer game and ran with it, inadvertently leading to the development of the game which would be named after the school. They also added goalpost with a cross bar, with scoring coming by kicking the ball over the crossbar. Around the same time period, the six other major public schools in England were starting to standardize the rules of their game (soccer). 1846 Dr. Thomas Arnold, the head of Rugby School, made the first truly standardized rugby rules. 1855 Charles Goodyear's vulcanized rubber was used in the first manufactured soccer ball. 1860 Yale banned football in 1860 and Harvard did so the following year. The game at the time resembled the violent Mob Football from England. 1862 The Oneida Football Club was formed in Boston. The played a combined version of earlier Colonial and American game formats that included both kicking and carrying. The games were dubbed the "Boston Game". 1863 Eleven London football clubs/schools met at the Freemason's Tavern, forming The Football Association and began the first official standardization of soccer rules. www.footballguys.com

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1867 In the late 1860’s football returned to college campuses. Yale, Princeton, Rutgers, and Brown played a kicking-based game akin to soccer, while Harvard played the “Boston Game” and Canadian schools played a running-based game all more akin to rugby. 1869 Princeton played at Rutgers in what is considered to be the first intercollegiate football/soccer game. At this time, virtually every school still had its own variations and rules. A home team’s rules were typically used for a game. 1871 The Rugby Football Union in England was formed to standardize rugby rules and remove some of the violence from the game. 1875 Harvard and Yale played for the first time. At this time Harvard was the lone American school using rugby-like rules, however as other schools played against or watched Harvard, they too began to shift away from the soccer-like rules. 1876 Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Columbia met to establish standardized rules. The results were very similar to the Rugby Football Union rules from England, except for the primary difference of the kicked goal was replaced with the touchdown. 1883 Points were added to the game of football, with field goals valued at five points, touchdowns at two points, and conversions after touchdowns at four points.

Unknown kick attempt

1892 Touchdown value was changed from two points to four and conversions after touchdowns value changed from four points to two. 1892 William "Pudge" Heffelfinger became the first “pro” football player when he was paid $500 to play in a game for the Allegheny Athletic Association against the Pittsburgh Athletic Club. By comparison, today’s top kickers are paid several million dollars a year, and players at other positions earn even significantly higher amounts. 1897 Touchdown value was changed from four points to five and conversions after touchdowns value changed from two points to one. 1902 Teams had to change ends of the field following a touchdown or field goal. 1904 FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) was founded in Paris. It is the international governing body of association football (soccer), which is the most popular kicking game in the large majority of countries throughout the world. 1904 Field goal value was changed from five points to four. 1909 Field goal value saw its final reduction when it was changed from four points to three. 1912 Touchdown value changed from five points to six; the starting point of all kickoffs was moved back from the 50 to the 40-yard line. 1920 The American Professional Football Association was formed, and then changed its name to the National Football League (NFL) in 1922.

Walter Camp The “Father of American Football”, Walter Camp, was instrumental in many of the early rules and scoring changes. As the game evolved from its rugby and soccer origins, kicking was significantly de-emphasized.

1922 The line-of-scrimmage on conversion attempts after touchdowns was moved to the five yard line. 1929 The line-of-scrimmage on conversion attempts after touchdowns was moved to the two yard line. 1933 The NFL, which had previously used the same rules as college football, began to adopt their own rules. Subsequent rules noted in this timeline are specific to the NFL.

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1933 Goal posts were moved from the end lines to the goal lines in an effort to increase scoring, and inbounds lines or hashmarks where the ball would be put in play were placed 10 yards from the sidelines. 1935 Hashmarks were moved nearer the center of the field, 15 yards from the sidelines. 1937 Following an out-of-bounds kickoff, rather than re-kicking, the opposing team was awarded the ball on the 20-yard line. 1943 Helmets became mandatory for all players. 1944 Chicago Bears scored 258 points, second in the league that year, yet did not attempt a single field goal. 1945 Hashmarks were moved from 15 yards away from the sidelines to nearer the center of the field, 20 yards from the sidelines; three inch dirt tee was permitted on kickoffs.

Yankee Stadium with goal posts on goal line

1948 Pat Harder made nine PATs (3-way tie for most in one game) for Chicago Cardinals against NY Giants. 1948 A flexible artificial tee was permitted on kickoffs. 1950 Bob Waterfield made nine PATs (3-way tie for most in one game) for Los Angeles against Baltimore. 1956 Use of an artificial medium to assist in the execution of a kick is no longer allowed (a.k.a. the Lou Groza Rule). Qwest Field with slingshot goal posts (uprights above the end line and base post behind the end line) The location and/or configuration of goal posts were changed in 1933, 1966, 1967, and 1974. The changes were made to either increase or decrease field goal scoring, and also for safety reasons when the posts were moved out of the field of play. 1958 The CFL (Canadian Football League) was founded. Its roots go back to the rugby version of football played in Canada in the 1860s. Some kicking rules differences from the NFL include: scoring of one point for a Single or Rouge (if the player receiving a live kick fails to return it out of the end zone, or (except on a kickoff) if the ball was kicked through the end zone); following a field goal, opposing teams can opt to receive a kickoff or take the ball at their own 35-yard line; a free kick is allowed from anywhere on the field (not just behind the line of scrimmage); goal posts are on the goal line. 1960-1969 AFL included the option of the two-point conversion after touchdowns.

The first soccer style kicker Gogolak’s “funny” kicking style would eventually become the NFL norm. The old straight-ahead style of kicking would disappear completely by 1987. www.footballguys.com

1964 Buffalo signs Pete Gogolak, the first soccer style kicker. 1966 Goal posts offset from the goal line, painted bright yellow, and with uprights 20 feet above the crossbar were made standard in the NFL.

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1966 Charlie Gogolak made nine PATs (3-way tie for most in one game) for Washington against NY Giants.

Pro Football Hall of Fame

1966 Bruce Gossett attempted 49 FGs (2-way tie for most in a season) for Los Angeles. 1967 "sling-shot" goal posts (with one curved support from the ground) were made standard in the NFL. 1967 Jim Bakken attempted nine FGs (most in one game) and made seven (5-way tie for second most) for St. Louis against Pittsburgh. 1968 First NFL game ever played on artificial turf, Kansas City at Houston (on the Astrodome’s Astroturf). 1970 Tom Dempsey made a 63 yard FG (2-way tie for longest) for New Orleans against Detroit. 1971 Curt Knight attempted 49 FGs (2-way tie for most in a season) for Washington. 1972 Hashmarks were moved nearer the center of the field, 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines… the hashmarks were now 18 feet, 6 inches apart (the same width as the goalposts), cutting down on severe angles for short field goal attempts. 1974 The goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end lines and the uprights would be extended to 30 feet above the crossbar in an effort to decrease the number of field goals; kickoffs were moved from the 40 back to the 35-yard line; and after missed field goals from beyond the 20, the ball was to be returned to the line of scrimmage.

Lou “The Toe” Groza, class of ‘74 Became the first kicking specialist, after a back injury ended his dual role as an offensive lineman.

1974 OL/K Lou Groza elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame. 1976 Gus the Miracle Mule (California Atoms) proves to arguably be the greatest kicker ever. 1979 Prohibited players on the receiving team from blocking below the waist during kickoffs, punts, and field-goal attempts. 1979 Tony Franklin (Philadelphia) was the first kicker to kick barefoot. 1981 QB/K George Blanda elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame.

George “The Fossil” Blanda, class of ‘81 He was the ultimate scoring threat, a starting QB and a starting kicker.

1983 Mark Mosely attempted 204 kicking points (probably the most in a season). His 161 points at the time was a record, although it is now third. 1983 Ali Haji-Sheikh made 35 FGs (most by a rookie in a season) for NY Giants. 1984 Uwe von Schamann attempted 70 PATs and was successful on 66 (second most in a season) for Miami. 1985 Kevin Butler scored 144 points (most in a season by a rookie) for Chicago. 1986 Mark Moseley, the last full-time straight-ahead place kicker, retired. 1987 Punter Steve Cox kicked the last straight-ahead field goal. 1989 Rich Karlis made seven FGs (5-way tie for second most in one game) for Minnesota against LA Rams (OT). 1991 Jan Stenerud elected to Hall of Fame (only player that was solely a kicker). www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Jan Stenerud, class of ‘91 One of the early soccer style kickers; his accuracy placed him well ahead of his contemporaries. Page 8


1993-2002 Jason Elam was successful on 371 straight PAT attempts (2-way tie for second most consecutive) for Denver. 1994 Added the option of the two-point conversion after touchdowns; the starting point of all kickoffs was moved back from the 35 to the 30-yard line; kickoff tees used can be no more than one inch in height (previously 3 inches); all field goals attempted and missed when the spot of the kick is beyond the 20 yard line, the defensive team taking possession will get the ball at the spot of the kick; on any field goal attempted and missed with the spot of the kick is on or inside the 20, the ball will go to the defensive team taking possession at the 20; and the 11 players on the receiving team are prohibited from blocking below the waste during a play in which there is a kickoff, safety kick, punt, field goal attempt or extra point kick with one exception, immediately at the snap on these plays those defenders on the line of scrimmage lined up on or inside the normal tight end position can block low.

The Most, part 1

Matt Stover has not missed an extra point in over 12 years (389 straight PATs and counting).

1995 Morten Andersen made eight 50+ yard FGs (2-way tie for most in a season) for Atlanta. Three were against New Orleans (3-way tie for most in one game). 1996 Chris Boniol made seven FGs (5-way tie for second most in one game) for Dallas against Green Bay. 1996-2008 Matt Stover was successful on 389 straight PAT attempts (most consecutive) for Baltimore… the streak was still alive heading into 2009. 1998 Gary Anderson was perfect on all 35 FGs. He scored 164 points (most in a season). 1998 Jason Elam made a 63 yard FG (2-way tie for longest) for Denver against Jacksonville. 1999 K-ball implemented for all kicking plays in a game… see separate section regarding the K-ball. 1999-2001 Matt Stover made at least one FG in 38 straight games (most consecutive games) for Baltimore. 1999-2007 Jeff Wilkins was successful on 371 straight PAT attempts (2-way tie for second most consecutive) for St. Louis.

Gary Anderson spent the majority of his career in Pittsburgh. During his perfect 1998 season with Minnesota, he scored 164 points, the most ever in the NFL in one year.

2000 Sebastian Janikowski becomes the fourth (fifth if you count the 1984 supplemental USFL draft) and most recent kicker to be drafted in the first round. 2000 First game ever played on FieldTurf, St. Louis at Seattle (at the University of Washington’s Husky Stadium). 2002 The chop-block technique is illegal on kicking plays; and after a kickoff, the game clock will start when the ball is touched legally in the field of play (previously, the clock started immediately when the ball was kicked). 2002 Jeff Wilkins (St. Louis) was the last kicker to kick barefoot, resurrecting the 80’s fad for the first part of the 2002 season. 2002-2004 Mike Vanderjagt was successful on 42 straight FG attempts (most consecutive) for Indianapolis. 2003 If an onside kick inside the final five minutes of the game does not go 10 yards, goes out of bounds, or is touched illegally, the receiving team will have the option of accepting the penalty and getting the ball immediately (previously, the kicking team was penalized, but had another chance to kick again from five yards back). www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

In 1970 on the final play of a game, Tom Dempsey’s 63 yard FG gave New Orleans a come from behind victory over Detroit, and set the NFL record for longest field goal. In 1998, Denver’s Jason Elam tied the record with a 63 yard FG at the end of halftime against Jacksonville. Page 9


2003 Jeff Wilkins scored 163 points (second most in a season) for St. Louis. 2003 Mike Vanderjagt was perfect on all 37 FGs. He scored 157 points (third most in a season) for Indianapolis. 2003 Billy Cundiff made seven FGs (5-way tie for second most in one game) for Dallas vs. NY Giants (OT). 2004 A punt or missed field goal that is untouched by the receiving team is immediately dead once it touches either the end zone or any member of the kicking team in the end zone (previously, a punt or missed field goal that lands in the end zone before being controlled by the kicking team could be picked up by a member of the receiving team and immediately run the other way). 2004 Neil Rackers made three 50+ yard FGs (3-way tie for most in one game) for Arizona against Seattle.

The Most, part 2

2005 Unnecessary roughness will be called for blocks away from the play on punters or kickers; during field goal and extra point attempts, the defensive team will be penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct if it calls consecutive timeouts in an attempt to "ice" the kicker (previously, the second timeout request was only denied by officials, and thus could be used to distract the kickers); if the kicking team commits a penalty, the receiving team can have the option of adding five yards to the return or taking a penalty and forcing the kicking team to re-kick the ball. 2005 The NFL granted a special exception to New Orleans for the year, allowing them to use offset goalposts (two base legs) in addition to the league standard slingshot goalposts (single base leg)‌ this was necessitated when they had to play some of their home games at LSU following Hurricane Katrina. 2005 Neil Rackers made 40 FGs (most in a season) for Arizona. 2004 Kris Brown made three 50+ yard FGs (3-way tie for most in one game) for Houston against Miami. 2006 Defensive players cannot line up directly over the long snapper during field goal and extra point attempts. 2006 Matt Bryant made a 62 yard FG (2-way tie for second longest) for Tampa Bay against Philadelphia.

Rob Bironas celebrates with his holder Craig Hentrich after making his eighth field goal in the same game, an NFL record.

2006 Rob Bironas made a 62 yard FG (2-way tie for second longest) for Tennessee against Indianapolis. 2007 Modified the K-ball usage in a game‌ see separate section regarding the K-ball. 2007 Shayne Graham made seven FGs (5-way tie for second most in one game) for Cincinnati against Baltimore. 2007 Rob Bironas made eight FGs (most in one game) for Tennessee against Houston. 2007 Stephen Gostkowski attempted and was successful on all 74 PATs (most in a season) for New England. 2007 Morten Andersen finishes his NFL career with 2544 points (most ever). 2008 Field goal attempts that bounce off the goal post are now reviewable under instant replay (courtesy of the previous season’s game tying FG by Phil Dawson for Cleveland against Baltimore). 2008 Sebastian Janikowski was short and wide right on a 76 yard FG attempt (longest attempt in documented history) for Oakland. 2008 Jason Hanson made eight 50+ yard FGs (2-way tie for most in a season) for Detroit. www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Morten Andersen finished his long, storied, and productive career with Atlanta, his sixth team. He set numerous NFL records, including the most career points (2544).

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3. Fantasy Kicker Scoring Systems “If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?” – Vince Lombardi

With each passing year, the number of unique fantasy scoring systems increases. Most fall into the following basic categories for kicker scoring. STANDARD Straight-up scoring is the same as in the real world. All field goals (FG) are worth three points. All points-aftertouchdown (PAT), a.k.a. extra points, are worth one point. This is the most common scoring system. The stats and analysis in this guide are based on standard scoring, except where noted otherwise. BONUS Additional points are scored for longer FGs. Shorter FGs typically remain the same as standard, medium range FGs are worth a little more, and long FGs are worth even more. The numbers can be adjusted for a wide variety of variations. Example: FGs under 40 yards are worth three points, FGs from 40 to 49 yards are worth four points, and FGs of 50 or more yards are worth five points. PENALTY Points are deducted for missed kicks. Missed longer FGs typically are not penalized, medium range FG misses are a small deduction, and missed short FGs are worth a moderate deduction. The numbers can be adjusted for a wide variety of variations. The penalty approach can be used in conjunction with any other scoring system; however it is most commonly used in conjunction with bonus scoring. Example: Missed FGs under 30 yards are a two point deduction, missed FGs from 30 to 39 yards are a one point deduction, missed FGs of 40 or more yards are not penalized, and missed PATs are a one point deduction. DECIMAL Decimal scoring has become fairly common for many fantasy positions, although less so for kickers. Example: FGs are scored by multiplying the FG distance by 0.1 KICKER IMPORTANCE The value of the kicker position is increased (or decreased) relative to other positions, by increasing (or decreasing) the points awarded for PATs and/or FGs.

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4. How Many Points Do Kickers Score Each Year? “If you think in terms of a year, plant a seed.” - Confucius ANNUAL TEAM KICKER SCORING (each year sorted from high to low) avg. total

avg. ppg

‘08

‘07

‘06

‘05

‘04

‘03

‘02

‘01

‘00

‘99

‘98

‘97

‘96

‘95

1

149

141

143

149

141

163

138

127

135

145

164

134

145

141 141.8

8.9

2

148

137

136

148

129

157

133

125

131

144

140

134

135

132 135.5

8.5

3

144

133

131

131

124

139

130

124

131

134

136

126

131

132 129.0 130.8 8.1 8.2

4

131

131

125

125

124

137

128

124

126

130

128

125

130

128 125.6

7.9

5

130

130

121

121

122

125

128

122

122

124

127

120

120

127 122.3

7.6

6

129

127

119

121

122

125

128

121

121

121

127

120

120

126 121.1

7.6

7

127

126

117

117

120

120

123

115

121

118

125

117

118

122 118.4

7.4

8

127

122

116

117

117

116

122

115

118

116

120

117

118

121 116.7 117.1 7.3 7.3

9

127

120

116

115

117

114

120

114

118

116

120

117

117

118 115.7

7.2

10

127

118

115

113

114

114

117

113

117

115

115

115

115

114 113.7

7.1

11

125

118

115

113

109

112

117

113

111

115

114

113

114

114 112.2

7.0

12

124

118

115

112

109

106

115

112

109

113

108

113

111

114 110.1

6.9

13

124

116

111

110

106

106

114

108

109

108

105

110

110

113 108.2 108.5 6.8 6.8

14

121

115

109

108

105

105

111

104

107

108

104

107

109

111 106.4

6.7

15

119

114

109

107

104

105

110

104

106

108

103

106

108

109 105.4

6.6

16

119

113

107

107

100

102

108

102

106

107

101

104

106

109 104.2

6.5

17

119

110

107

106

100

102

107

101

105

106

99

104

105

108 103.2

6.4

18

117

110

106

102

99

101

107

100

102

106

98

103

98

106 101.2 101.2 6.3 6.3

19

114

109

103

101

99

100

103

98

101

106

97

99

97

105

99.6

6.2

20

113

109

102

100

99

99

100

96

101

105

95

93

96

103

98.0

6.1

21

112

108

102

99

96

99

100

95

98

103

92

93

95

102

96.2

6.0

22

108

107

101

99

94

94

96

95

96

103

92

91

94

98

94.3

5.9

23

103

103

100

98

94

92

95

94

91

98

91

91

93

96

92.0 92.4 5.8 5.8

24

103

99

100

98

93

92

94

93

88

93

90

90

93

95

90.8

5.7

25

103

99

100

97

91

90

90

91

85

92

87

87

91

88

88.7

5.5

26

102

97

98

95

89

89

89

90

84

90

85

85

89

87

86.9

5.4

27

102

97

97

93

85

83

81

86

81

83

82

83

85

87

82.6

5.2

28

97

96

90

92

83

81

75

84

66

81

78

77

81

82

77.9 78.3 4.9 4.9

29

90

89

88

90

82

81

74

77

66

79

75

72

77

81

80.1

5.0

30

88

87

83

90

77

81

74

74

59

78

57

71

72

75

76.1

4.8

31

84

78

73

90

77

75

71

71

57

47

72.3

4.5

32

79

73

70

84

67

73

61

72.4

4.5

Avg. 115.8 107.0 107.8 102.8 105.6 105.0 102.8 102.2 106.2 105.2 103.9 105.8 108.1 100.4 www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 12


General Observations The bold numbers in the end columns are the averages for the various tiers. At best, there's a difference of a couple points per game between a high scoring kicker and a mediocre kicker. Most weeks it probably doesn't impact the outcome. However, once or twice a year it could be the difference in your fantasy game. That game could be the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. That game could be in the playoffs. Kickers may not matter as much as the other more glamorous positions in the majority of leagues, however they do matter just enough to not completely ignore them. Specific Observations •

The difference in average points-per-game between each of the middle four tiers is an identical 0.5 points. The difference is bigger at the top and bottoms however, as the uppermost and lowermost tiers are each 0.9 ppg different than the adjoining tier. That enforces the rather obvious statement: you ideally want a top five kicker on your fantasy team, and you definitely don’t want a bottom five kicker on your team.

The annual top point total has now exceeded 140 points for six consecutive years.

In 2008, overall kicker scoring (and accuracy) took a jump to an unprecedented high. All but five teams scored at least 100 points. The median score was 119, which in years past would have been a top ten score. The 2009 season will be under close scrutiny, to determine if increased kicker scoring is a continuing trend or if 2008 was simply an aberration.

No. 4’s in the 100 Club (diminishing returns and sustained success)

Jason Hanson In 2004, two teams each scored 100 kicking points: Detroit (Jason Hanson) and Cleveland (Phil th Dawson). They tied for 16 in kicker scoring.

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John Kasay In 2006, three teams each scored 100 kicking points: Miami (Olindo Mare), Carolina (John Kasay), and Atlanta (Morten Andersen and Michael Koenen). They tied for 23rd In kicker scoring.

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Adam Vinatieri In 2008, no teams scored exactly 100 kicking points. If they had, they would have ranked 28th in kicker scoring. On an individual level, two kickers continued their mark of scoring at least 100 points in every year of their career: Adam Vinatieri (13 years) and Jason Elam (16 years).

Page 13


5. How Many Points Do Kickers Score Each Week? "You've got to dig from week to week, to get results or roses.� - Edgar Albert Guest 2008 WEEKLY KICKER SCORING (each week sorted from high to low)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

14 11 11 10 10 10 9 8 8 8 7 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 2 1

15 15 13 13 12 12 12 11 11 11 11 11 10 9 8 8 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 5 4 4 4 4 1 0

14 13 12 11 11 11 10 10 10 9 9 8 8 8 7 7 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 3 2

15 14 13 12 12 12 12 11 11 10 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 7 6 6 6 6 5 3 3 2

14 12 12 11 11 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 8 7 7 7 7 6 6 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 1 0

16 16 14 13 12 11 10 9 9 9 8 8 7 6 6 6 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 2 2

12 12 11 11 11 10 10 10 10 9 9 8 8 7 7 7 5 4 4 4 4 3 2 2 2 2 1 1

13 13 12 11 11 11 11 10 10 10 9 9 9 9 7 7 7 6 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 2 2

14 14 14 13 13 10 10 10 9 9 9 9 7 6 6 5 5 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 1 1 0

17 12 12 11 10 10 9 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 5 4 3 3 3 2 2 1

17 15 14 13 13 12 11 10 10 10 9 9 9 8 8 7 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 5 5 4 4 4 3 2 2 2

18 15 13 12 12 11 11 10 10 10 10 9 9 9 9 8 8 8 8 8 7 7 7 6 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 1

17 15 12 12 12 11 11 11 10 10 10 10 10 9 8 8 8 7 6 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2 2 1

11 11 10 10 10 10 10 10 9 8 8 8 8 7 6 6 6 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 2 2 1

12 12 12 11 10 9 9 9 9 8 8 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 6 6 5 4 4 4 4 3 2 2 2 2 2

17 15 12 11 11 10 10 9 8 8 8 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 6 5 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 1 0

15 14 13 11 10 10 10 9 9 9 8 7 7 7 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 6 3 3 3 1 1 0 0 0 0

average 14.8 13.5 12.4 11.5 11.2 10.6 10.3 9.7 9.5 9.1 8.8 8.4 8.1 7.5 7.1 6.9 6.5 6.2 6.0 5.6 5.2 5.0 4.6 3.9 3.7 3.2 2.7 2.3 2.4 1.8 1.9 1.1

12.7

9.8

8.0

6.2

4.5

2.2

Once again, the bold numbers in the end column are the averages for the various tiers. The differences in kicker scoring over the course of an entire year are modest, as seen in the preceding section. When we look at the range of kicker scoring in any given week in the NFL however, the variation becomes more substantial. In fantasy leagues where rules provide the ability to work the waiver wire on a weekly basis or in contests where you can select a different kicker each week, there is a potential for greater reward from the kicker position. For those willing to take that leap, looking for high scoring kickers each week is discussed later in this guide in the Weekly Management section.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 14


6. All in 1.3 Seconds “People come out to see you perform and you've got to give them the best you have within you. The lives of most men are patchwork quilts. Or at best one matching outfit with a closet and laundry bag full of incongruous accumulations. A lifetime of training for just ten seconds.” – Jesse Owens We asked some NFL kickers to describe the fundamentals of a typical field goal. Here are their answers: Ryan Longwell “I would say the two most important things [regarding the hold] are hitting the spot every time and getting the lean correctly. I like the ball to lean forwards and towards the holder. It lets you see a lot of the ball and gets a very, very true straight ball flight. The biggest thing with kicking a field goal is obviously you have a snapper and a holder, and we all to have to be on the same rhythm and the same cadence to be efficient. The bottom line is between the three of us and the protection unit, you only have 1.3 seconds to snap, to hold, to place it, and to put the ball through the uprights. It’s a pretty quick thing.” Robbie Gould “I find a spot, usually on the corner of the hash (mark), and that gives the holder a point where he can put the ball. From there I take two steps back and two steps to the left, find my target behind the upright, wait for the snap and the hold, and then I attempt the kick.” Mason Crosby

Ryan Longwell

“My steps are three back. I am at about two and a half yards from the ball, and I take two steps to the left. As I’m set the holder will have the spot and call “ready-set” and raise his right hand. I begin my approach as the holder’s left hand goes to catch the ball. It all takes between 1.2 to 1.4 seconds, making it a very fast process.”

“You only have 1.3 seconds to snap, to hold, to place it, and to put the ball through the uprights.”

Kris Brown sets up for a PAT attempt, several steps back and several steps over from the holder.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 15


Connor Barth “When we get onto the field, our snapper is the guy who spots the ball. My holder’s job is to go and find the spot for me, so he counts off eight yards, because in the NFL from the snap to the hold is eight yards. When you see where the ball is snapped from that is not the actual yard line. The field goal is actually [measured] from where the ball is held. After my holder spots off the eight yards for me, I go up to the spot where he is, then I take my steps. I take three steps back and two steps over. That’s kind of the normal routine that most kickers do in the NFL. Some other guys are a little bit different. Everyone has their own kind of fundamentals that they like to do. What the special teams coaches are looking for is about 1.3 seconds from snap to kick. So from when my center snaps it and the holder gets it down and then I kick it, it should be about 1.3 seconds. The line is only supposed to block for so long, and that’s about the average time you want to get the ball off in the NFL game. We practice it so much during the week, that when we go out there it’s just like clockwork. For me, all I really worry about is the kick. The holder will check the clock and make sure there’s time on the clock. Our snapper will yell out where he is on the field so my holder knows where to set up the eight yards. It’s a good process. When I get back there I just try to let it fire.”

Olindo Mare kicks a field goal:

Jeff Reed “My job is in the hands of those guys (snapper and holder); not only those guys but the guys protecting for me because if they don’t do their jobs, no matter what my time is, unless it is ridiculously fast - mine is not the fastest in the NFL, then I don’t even get to get the kick off. Basically, I put my trust in my snapper and my holder and try to have a good unity with those guys. I totally trust the guys protecting me because they do that for a living.” Joe Nedney “The holder and kicker set up 8 yards from the line of scrimmage. The kicker gives the holder a spot where he'd like the ball to be placed. The kicker takes his steps back and over, nods to the holder when he's ready, and the holder signals for the snap. The snapper snaps, the holder holds, and the kicker kicks, hopefully successfully, all in under 1.3 seconds.”

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 16


7. Which Teams Are Scoring Kicking Points? “Grades are almost completely relative, in effect ranking students relative to others in their class. Thus extra achievement by one student not only raises his position, but in effect lowers the position of others.” - James S. Coleman ANNUAL TEAM KICKER SCORING RANKINGS ‘08

‘07

‘06

‘05

‘04

‘03

‘02

‘01

‘00

‘99

‘98

‘97

‘96

‘95

‘94

‘93

‘92

‘91

‘90

Ari

15

17

8

1

22

32

29

21

28

27

13

26

18

15

22

18

26

23

25

Atl

6

23

23

15

22

26

1

7

21

29

8

16

19

4

17

10

13

12

10

Bal

11

22

5

10

8

4

22

7

1

8

25

13

25

13

7

22

15

24

28

Buf

12

28

20

10

8

31

12

29

12

13

2

20

17

6

7

15

5

9

6

Car

5

24

23

5

18

5

29

25

5

6

21

22

1

19

Chi

15

7

1

28

32

14

23

13

26

30

24

27

21

10

22

17

16

19

3

Cin

31

5

10

3

5

12

28

30

31

28

28

28

13

8

9

21

18

16

19

Cle

22

9

29

20

16

23

20

21

30

31

Dal

26

4

14

26

25

20

32

26

18

23

5

3

5

5

6

2

4

4

26

Den

19

15

10

9

2

5

9

3

2

8

5

1

14

2

3

7

18

7

7

Det

30

8

7

32

16

23

20

27

19

17

11

7

30

2

18

2

13

17

15

GB

7

1

14

29

7

7

4

15

2

12

4

5

11

17

14

4

12

21

15

Hou

12

14

30

18

27

28

31

Ind

23

10

4

5

3

2

19

2

6

1

14

7

2

20

25

20

24

28

24

Jac

29

19

6

15

24

25

25

28

17

4

12

1

9

26

KC

32

31

16

4

11

12

7

14

23

13

10

11

27

18

11

13

8

9

1

Mia

23

29

23

14

28

20

13

20

10

2

17

7

26

9

10

11

1

2

14

Min

7

24

28

17

18

16

15

31

11

21

1

24

20

7

2

15

11

21

4

NE

2

2

19

19

1

11

10

11

15

16

7

10

5

23

4

23

28

25

27

NO

15

30

10

25

15

16

3

11

15

25

23

22

28

26

5

8

2

6

19

NYG

1

19

16

2

18

27

16

19

25

21

20

20

22

25

18

13

17

14

12

NYJ

20

17

18

29

14

14

17

15

19

13

8

5

29

30

24

23

22

3

12

Oak

28

26

32

29

13

22

4

6

8

7

27

29

15

21

15

1

23

5

23

Phi

3

21

20

23

5

9

2

7

6

26

30

19

10

22

16

25

18

8

9

Pit

18

16

22

7

3

19

8

3

14

20

16

15

16

1

13

9

6

15

19

SD

7

10

2

12

10

28

26

5

27

10

19

16

7

24

1

6

6

20

15

Sea

26

6

13

13

11

9

17

24

22

3

18

18

12

15

25

19

27

13

11

SF

14

32

8

21

30

8

10

17

24

24

15

4

4

14

11

12

9

18

5

Stl

21

26

3

7

26

1

24

1

12

5

26

14

23

29

27

28

21

26

22

TB

4

10

31

23

30

28

4

10

4

17

21

30

23

28

21

26

25

27

18

Ten

7

3

26

21

21

3

14

23

8

17

3

11

3

10

28

5

10

9

7

Was

23

13

27

27

29

18

27

18

28

10

29

25

7

10

20

27

2

1

2

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 17


Notes and Observations: ƒ

There is a significant amount of turnover at the top spots on a yearly basis, or conversely, sustaining kicker scoring success is very difficult.

ƒ

Never say never. Through 2004, only two non-expansion teams had never placed in the top ten during this period… Arizona and the NY Giants. Then in 2005 they were the top two teams. Through 2005 Chicago had ten consecutive mediocre to poor seasons. Then in 2006 they were the top team.

ƒ

Never say always. Through 2007, Indianapolis had five consecutive top ten rankings. In 2008, they dropped to 23rd. Through 2007, Cincinnati had our consecutive top ten rankings. In 2008, they dropped to 31st.

ƒ

Four expansion teams entered the league during this period. Carolina and Jacksonville both placed in the top ten in just their second year. Cleveland finally made the top ten after nine years. Houston has not placed in the top ten after seven years, although they came close in 2008. The Streaks (what is, what was, and what hasn’t)

Nate Kaeding The San Diego Chargers ranked in the top ten in kicker scoring from 2006 to 2008, the longest active streak in the league heading in to the 2009 season.

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Matt Prater Over the past two decades, the Denver Broncos have ranked in the top ten in kicker scoring more than any other team. In 2008 they ranked eighth in attempted kicking points, however Prater could not capitalize, th and they team placed only 19 in actual kicker scoring.

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Jay Feely Twice in his career, Feely has been the top scoring annual kicker: in 2002 with Atlanta and in 2005 with the NY Giants. He enters 2009 in his second year with the NY Jets, who have the current longest streak of ranking outside the top ten in kicker scoring. The last time they finished in the top ten was 1998.

Page 18


8. Top Kickers: Where Do They Come From and Where Do They Go? “If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.” - Lewis Carroll “If you aren't going all the way, why go at all?” - Joe Namath Where Top Five and Top Ten Kicking Teams Ranked in the Year Prior and the Year After: 26-32, 11.5%

26-32, 7.2% 21-25, 10.3%

1-5, 19.8%

1-5, 19.6% 21-25, 16.7%

16-20, 14.4% 6-10, 23.7%

16-20, 13.5%

11-15, 24.7%

6-10, 26.0%

11-15, 12.5%

Top Five Kickers - The Year Before

Top Five Kickers - The Year After

26-32, 10.8%

26-32, 14.0%

21-25, 7.5% 1-5, 24.7%

1-5, 28.0% 21-25, 12.9%

16-20, 15.1% 16-20, 11.8% 6-10, 25.8%

6-10, 25.8% 11-15, 16.1%

11-15, 7.5% Top Ten Kickers - The Year Before

Top Ten Kickers - The Year After

Observations regarding the preceding charts: •

A top five kicker is more likely to remain in the top ten; however they could wind up just about anywhere the following year.

Over half of the sixth thru tenth ranked kickers remain in the top ten the following year.

Two-thirds of top five kickers come from the top fifteen the prior year.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 19


9. The Greatest Field Goal Kickers Ever “Possibly more importantly, the blog has kept Chase off the street.” - Doug Drinen Section by guest FBG staff member Chase Stuart Note: the following section first appeared as a three part blog post on Pro-Football-Reference.com Part I Part II Part III The Greatest Field Goal Kickers Ever, Part I, by Chase Stuart Last summer, I wrote a five part series on the Greatest QBs of All Time; since then I’ve studied the Greatest WRs Ever and the Most Dominant RBs in history. I’ve taken quick looks at Great coaching records, and really talented Defensive Line units, Linebacker Corps, and front sevens. While my examination of real football players is not finished, for the next three days bear with me as I take a less popular, less interesting, and less noteworthy look at the kicker position. I don’t hate kickers as much as Doug Drinen, but I don’t anticipate this being the most exciting thing you’ll ever read. That said, if we’re going to rank all the kickers, we’re going to do it correctly. There have been many rules changes throughout the history of the NFL. Let’s examine some of the more notable changes that have impacted the kicking game. [A complete list can be found in section 2. The History of Kicking] •

1904: Field goal value was changed from five points to four

1909: Field goal value was changed from four points to three

1945: Hashmarks were moved nearer to the center of the field, from 15 yards to 20 yards away from the sidelines.

1966: Goal posts offset from the goal line, painted bright yellow, and with uprights 20 feet above the crossbar were made standard in the NFL.

1967: “sling-shot” goal posts (with one curved support from the ground) were made standard in the NFL

1972: Hashmarks were moved nearer to the center of the field, 23 yards, 1 foot, 9 inches from the sidelines; the hashmarks were now 18 feet, 6 inches apart (the same width as the goalposts), cutting down on severe angles for short field goal attempts

1974: The goal posts were moved from the goal line to the end lines and the uprights were extended to 30 feet above the crossbar; for missed field goals from beyond the 20, the ball was now returned to the line of scrimmage

1994: On all missed field goals when the spot of the kick was beyond the 20 yard line, the defensive team taking possession received possession at the spot of the kick; on any field goal attempted and missed when the spot of the kick was on or inside the 20, the defensive team took possession at the 20. The twopoint conversion option was introduced this year as well.

1999: K-ball implemented for all kicking plays in a game

Before going on, I should note that this post is really Part I-B, because Doug wrote Part I-A almost exactly one year ago. That’s strongly recommended reading before reading the rest of this post. Here at PFR, we’ve got complete data on all kickers since the merger, incomplete data on kickers from 1960-1970, and data on kickers from pre-1960 but without distance breakdowns. Keep that in mind whenever I use phrases like “greatest X of all time” or “worst Y ever.” Roughly complete data is what we’re dealing with here, but there always exists the possibility that something crazy happened in 1955. In particular, Lou Groza may be the best kicker of all time, but until we get some distance breakdowns on his field goal attempts, I’m unfortunately going to have to ignore him. So how do we grade kickers? Obviously we’re going to need to adjust for era and for field goal length when rating the kickers, but we’ll also need to note some of those rule changes that impact the value of a field goal. From 19601973, a 30 yard field goal was attempted when the line of scrimmage was the 23-yard line. When Steve Myhra kicked the 20-yard-FG that sent the ‘58 championship game into overtime, the LOS was the 13-yard line. www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 20


Since1974, the line of scrimmage has always been 17-18 yards shorter than the length of the field goal, as opposed to seven or eight yards. Why does this matter? Because to measure the value of a successful field goal, we need to measure the value of an unsuccessful one; to do that, we need to know where the ball will be placed following a missed field goal. It’s also important to keep in mind the rule change about missed field goals from beyond the 20-yard-line. The table below should help; it shows where the ball would be spotted following some sample missed field goals across three eras: Year 1960-1973 1974-1993 1994-current

25-yard FG 20 20 20

33-yard FG 26 20 23

50-yard FG 43 33 40

While the differences aren’t significant, they’re worth noting if we want to be accurate. What this means is we’re going to need three separate formulas for ranking field goal kickers, depending on whether the season was between ‘60 and ‘73 (”early”), ‘74 and ‘93 (”middle”) or since 1994 (”late”). The average starting field position following a kickoff is around the 27-yard-line. The NFL moved the kickoff back from the 35 to the 30 starting in 1994, so I’m going to simply declare the average kickoff return will take you to the 22-yard-line from 1960-1993 and to the 27-yard-line for any kickoffs since 1994. What’s this all mean? A 33-yard-FG has always been worth three points, but the value of the alternative field position has changed. In the Early period, a missed 33-yard FG cost you three points and four yards of field position. In the Middle Period, it cost you three points but you picked up two yards of field position. Now, a missed 33-yarder costs you three points but you gain four yards in field position. Fascinating stuff, indeed. We’ve got data on field goal tries in ten yard increments (that might be changing, soon). As a result, I’m going to have to approximate how long each field goal attempt actually was. All missed field goals from 10-19 yards have always brought you back to the 20-yard-line. Attempts from 20-29 yards, 30-39 yards, 40-49 yards, and over 50 yards will be considered 26, 36, 46 and 54 yard attempts. Here’s where missed field goals from each era would take you: Year 1960-1973 1974-1993 1994-current

10-19 20 20 20

26 20 20 20

36 29 20 26

46 39 29 36

54 47 37 44

Those numbers can then be compared to where the opposition would take over following a successful field goal (the 22 in the Early and Middle years, the 27 in the Late years), and we can use Romer point values to show the difference. Year 1960-1973 1974-1993 1994-current

10+ 0.13 0.13 0.46

26 0.13 0.13 0.46

36 -0.46 0.13 0.07

46 -1.09 -0.46 -0.57

54 -1.49 -0.97 -1.02

To explain what that means, a missed 54 yard field goal in 2009 gives the opponent the ball at the 44, which would put them in a +1.73 position according to Romer. A successful 54-yarder gives the other team the ball at the 27, a +0.71 position; therefore the miss is worth -1.02 points of field position. Of course, a miss also costs you three points on the scoreboard — the table below incorporates that: Year 1960-1973 1974-1993 1994-current

10+ -2.87 -2.87 -2.54

26 -2.87 -2.87 -2.54

36 -3.46 -2.87 -2.93

46 -4.09 -3.46 -3.57

54 -4.49 -3.97 -4.02

Berkeley Economist David Romer

One more example. A missed 46 yarder in 1968 occurred when the LOS was the 39, and that’s where the other team would gain possession. Having the ball at the 39 is a +1.47 situation. A successful field goal would give the opponent possession at the 22, a +0.38 situation. So the average difference between a successful and unsuccessful 46 yard field goal in the Early period is 3 points on the board and 1.09 points of field position, or 4.09 points total. www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

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Now all we need to do is figure out how likely it is that the average kicker would make any given field goal, and we can then compare every kicker to the league average. The Greatest Field Goal Kickers Ever, Part II We’re going to examine every attempt from every distance (in ten-yard increments) in every year and compare each kicker to the league average. A missed 50-yard field goal in 1965 was very common; a missed 36-yard field goal today is very rare. My method adjusts all kicks for distance and era. Further, we’re not going to just consider the ability of the kicker but also his value to the team — missing a 50-yard field goal is more costly to a team than missing a 20-yard field goal because of the cost in field position. We can do that with the help of Professor Romer. To be clear, this won’t be perfect — kickers in Denver and domed stadiums have an advantage, while kickers who play a bunch of games in particularly tough environments will be at a disadvantage. But this sure beats the heck out of every other method to rank kickers. One last embarrassing note (in addition to me devoting three days to kicker research). I’ve excluded the 2008 season. That’s because I performed this study originally in September, but it being kicker-related, never got around to writing it until the ‘08 season ended. If I was to wait until I incorporated the ‘08 data, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t finish until the ‘09 season ended. If you really need ‘08 kicker data, you’ll sadly have to wait to the updated version of this post. Let’s get to the analysis. Jan Stenerud had arguably the two best seasons in kicker history. (And if you want to hear Kansas City Chiefs writer Jonathan Rand explain why he voted for Stenerud to make the HOF, go to the very end of this podcast.) Let’s examine his 1969 season, which culminated in three field goals in a Super Bowl victory. Stenerud went 9/9 from inside of 20 yards; the NFL average from that distance was 90%, meaning the average kicker would have hit 8.1 field goals from inside of 20 yards. Therefore, Stenerud made 0.9 more FGs than average from that distance. Since every FG made under 20 yards in the “Early” era was worth 2.87 points, Stenerud gets +2.58 points of value for his work inside of 20 yards that season. Stenerud was 4/6 from 20-29 yards, which was slightly below the league average. He hit 0.4 fewer field goals than we’d expect; field goals are also worth 2.87 at this distance and in this era, which gives him a score of -1.28 from this distance. From 30-39 yards, he made six of eight attempts when the average kicker would have converted 4.4/8; these field goals were worth 3.46 points in the Early era, so another +5.48 for the HOFer. He was even better from 40-49, where he connected on 6/9 attempts while the league average was just 29%; he made 3.4 more field goals than average from this distance, and these field goals were worth, on average, 4.09 points; +13.97 for Stenerud. Finishing up, he was 2/3 from 50+; the average kicker would have made just 0.5 field goals out of three tries. These kicks are worth 4.49 points each, so +6.91 goes in his 50+ value column. He also made every extra point, giving him an extra 0.6 points up on the average kicker.

Jan Stenerud

Add all those scores up and you get a rating of +28.3 for Stenerud. That’s the highest rating for any kicker since 1960, although it’s possible that Lou Groza (or another pre-1960 kicker) had a higher single-season rating. Finally, we make one more adjustment, to pro-rate for games played. I pro-rated each kicker’s score as if he was playing a N game season, where N equals the average of 16 and the actual number of team games played. That gives him a score of 30.3, obviously the highest in the study. Stenerud ‘68 is the second highest score in the study. In 1968, he had a season better than any kicker has ever had in the last 50 or so years; then, somehow, he managed to top it in 1969.

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Here are the top 50 seasons in kicker history. The raw column shows the kicker’s score before pro-rating for the number of games on the schedule, but the group is listed by the “value” column which does pro-rate for the number of games. Kicker 1. Jan Stenerud 2. Jan Stenerud 3. Neil Rackers 4. Garo Yepremian 5. Fred Steinfort 6. Jim Turner 7. Gary Anderson 8. Morten Andersen 9. Raul Allegre 10. Gene Mingo 11. Mark Moseley 12. Jan Stenerud 13. Gino Cappelletti 14. Toni Fritsch 15. Mike Vanderjagt 16. Sam Baker 17. Nick Lowery 18. Jim Turner 19. Chester Marcol 20. Pete Stoyanovich 21. Tony Franklin 22. Cary Blanchard 23. George Blair 24. Eddie Murray 25. Horst Muhlmann 26. Fred Cox 27. Mac Percival 28. Fred Cox 29. Nick Lowery 30. Bruce Gossett 31. Jim Bakken 32. Jeff Wilkins 33. Dean Biasucci 34. Norm Johnson 35. Mike Mercer 36. Garo Yepremian 37. Nick Lowery 38. Mark Moseley 39. Morten Andersen 40. Mark Moseley 41. Jan Stenerud 42. George Blanda 43. Dean Biasucci 44. Bruce Gossett 45. Gino Cappelletti 46. Jan Stenerud 47. Ali Haji-Sheikh 48. Al Del Greco 49. Nick Lowery 50. Nick Lowery

Year 1969 1968 2005 1970 1980 1969 1998 1985 1983 1962 1979 1970 1964 1979 2003 1966 1985 1968 1972 1997 1979 1996 1962 1989 1970 1969 1968 1965 1980 1973 1967 2003 1987 1993 1966 1971 1988 1977 1986 1982 1981 1967 1988 1964 1963 1967 1983 1995 1983 1990

Team KAN KAN ARI MIA DEN NYJ MIN NOR BAL DEN WAS KAN BOS HOU IND PHI KAN NYJ GNB KAN PHI IND SDG DET CIN MIN CHI MIN KAN SFO STL STL IND ATL KAN MIA KAN WAS NOR WAS GNB OAK IND RAM BOS KAN NYG HOU KAN KAN

Raw 28.3 27.7 26.5 24.5 26.2 22.5 23.2 23.1 23.1 20.8 22.2 20.4 20.4 21.4 21.3 19.6 20.9 19.3 19.1 20.3 20.1 19.9 18.5 19.5 17.9 17.8 17.7 17.3 18.1 16.7 16.7 17.8 17.1 17.7 16.5 16.3 17.4 16.1 16.9 12.1 16.7 15.4 16.5 15.3 15.2 15.1 16.1 16.1 15.9 15.8

Value 30.3 29.7 26.5 26.3 26.2 24.1 23.2 23.1 23.1 22.3 22.2 21.9 21.8 21.4 21.3 21.0 20.9 20.7 20.5 20.3 20.1 19.9 19.8 19.5 19.1 19.1 18.9 18.6 18.1 17.9 17.9 17.8 17.7 17.7 17.7 17.5 17.4 17.2 16.9 16.8 16.7 16.5 16.5 16.4 16.3 16.2 16.1 16.1 15.9 15.8

13. Gino Cappelletti

32. Jeff Wilkins

Stenerud leads the way with five top-50 seasons, tied with fellow Chief Nick Lowery. Mark Moseley proves he wasn’t a one-hit-wonder as he has two other top-50 performances in addition to his MVP season in 1982. (On a per game basis or if you performed a straight pro-rating of his 9-game season, it would rank as the 17th best since 1960; obviously it is lower than that using the formula above, which pro-rates his performance to a 12.5 game season.) Garo Yepremian shows he was a better kicker than passer with two top-50 seasons on the list; Morten www.footballguys.com

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Andersen, Gino Cappelletti, Jim Turner, Fred Cox, Bruce Gossett and Dean Biasucci join him with a pair of stellar seasons. If you don’t remember, I’ve already discussed Cappelletti’s 1964 season on this blog. And believe it or not, the great Gary Anderson has just one top-50 season, his not-exactly-perfect 1998 performance. And, for what it’s worth, only 14 of the above 50 seasons came from kickers whose teams were in Denver or played in domed stadiums. What about the worst seasons by any kicker? You already knew which season was going to come out on bottom: Kicker 50. Jim Gallery 49. Gary Anderson 48. Eric Schubert 47. John Hall 46. Neil Rackers 45. Kris Brown 44. Todd Peterson 43. Curt Knight 42. Tony Franklin 41. Wade Richey 40. Jerry DePoyster 39. Tim Mazzetti 38. Wade Richey 37. Steve McLaughlin 36. Richie Cunningham 35. Dave Green 34. Mike Mercer 33. Jack Spikes 32. Martin Gramatica 31. Dick Guesman 30. Mark Moseley 29. Matt Bahr 28. Booth Lusteg 27. Gene Mingo 26. Martin Gramatica 25. Neil Rackers 24. Chuck Nelson 23. Tommy Brooker 22. Mike Cofer 21. Dale Livingston 20. Happy Feller 19. Jan Stenerud 18. Don Chandler 17. Joe Nedney 16. Bob Timberlake 15. Gino Cappelletti 14. Larry Barnes 13. Happy Feller 12. Greg Davis 11. Uwe von Schamann 10. Chip Lohmiller 9. Ray Wersching 8. Seth Marler 7. Ali Haji-Sheikh 6. Bill Capece 5. Scott Sisson 4. Jim O'Brien 3. Ken Vinyard 2. Fred Steinfort 1. Paul Hornung

Year 1987 1999 1986 2000 2001 2001 2002 1973 1980 1998 1968 1979 2001 1995 1999 1975 1969 1963 2004 1964 1970 1982 1968 1970 2003 2000 1987 1965 1991 1970 1973 1985 1966 1996 1965 1969 1960 1971 1992 1984 1993 1973 2003 1984 1983 1993 1972 1970 1983 1964

Team STL MIN STL NYJ CIN PIT PIT WAS PHI SFO DET ATL SDG STL 2TM CIN GNB KAN 2TM DEN PHI CLE PIT PIT TAM CIN MIN KAN SFO GNB NOR MIN GNB MIA NYG BOS OAK PHI PHO MIA WAS SDG JAX NYG TAM NWE BAL ATL 2TM GNB

Raw -13.3 -13.7 -13.8 -13.8 -13.9 -14.0 -14.2 -13.5 -14.5 -14.6 -13.7 -14.8 -14.8 -14.9 -15.2 -14.2 -14.3 -14.3 -15.4 -14.5 -14.7 -11.4 -14.8 -14.9 -16.1 -16.2 -15.9 -15.4 -16.6 -15.5 -15.9 -17.3 -16.5 -18.0 -16.9 -17.1 -17.2 -17.2 -18.5 -18.9 -19.3 -18.7 -20.2 -20.8 -20.9 -21.9 -21.1 -22.6 -25.7 -29.9

Value -13.7 -13.7 -13.8 -13.8 -13.9 -14.0 -14.2 -14.4 -14.5 -14.6 -14.7 -14.8 -14.8 -14.9 -15.2 -15.2 -15.3 -15.3 -15.4 -15.6 -15.7 -15.8 -15.9 -16.0 -16.1 -16.2 -16.4 -16.4 -16.6 -16.6 -17.0 -17.3 -17.7 -18.0 -18.1 -18.3 -18.4 -18.4 -18.5 -18.9 -19.3 -20.1 -20.2 -20.8 -20.9 -21.9 -22.6 -24.2 -25.7 -32.0

Paul Hornung

Did you happen to catch that Mr. HOF is on the list? Stenerud was 43 and in his 19th season in 1985 — he should have hung up his cleats a year earlier. In ‘84, he was the second best kicker in the NFL (although he was in a dome), behind the Eagles’ Paul McFadden. www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

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Finally, here’s a big table showing the league average success ratio in each season since 1960, from the distances we’ve discussed: Year 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996 1995 1994 1993 1992 1991 1990 1989 1988 1987 1986 1985 1984 1983 1982 1981 1980 1979 1978 1977 1976 1975 1974 1973 1972 1971 1970 1969 1968 1967 1966 1965 1964 1963 1962 1961 1960

XP 99% 99% 99% 99% 98% 99% 98% 99% 99% 98% 99% 99% 98% 99% 97% 98% 98% 97% 98% 96% 97% 97% 96% 97% 96% 95% 95% 95% 91% 93% 92% 91% 92% 92% 98% 97% 98% 97% 98% 97% 97% 97% 98% 96% 96% 95% 96% 95%

10-19 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 92% 90% 95% 100% 91% 100% 100% 95% 100% 100% 100% 97% 97% 100% 96% 100% 93% 95% 100% 96% 95% 93% 95% 70% 93% 81% 96% 96% 81% 96% 94% 91% 91% 90% 94% 77% 89% 77% 78% 71% 78% 61% 64%

20-29 95% 96% 95% 96% 96% 94% 95% 94% 94% 95% 94% 95% 92% 96% 92% 90% 93% 95% 94% 90% 92% 88% 87% 93% 90% 85% 85% 89% 88% 85% 79% 78% 83% 81% 77% 75% 73% 70% 74% 77% 64% 68% 74% 67% 62% 65% 60% 60%

30-39 90% 86% 85% 80% 82% 83% 85% 80% 80% 85% 85% 84% 81% 84% 84% 75% 78% 79% 78% 77% 73% 79% 79% 75% 75% 70% 69% 67% 66% 61% 62% 63% 66% 65% 64% 69% 56% 64% 55% 56% 56% 56% 52% 53% 54% 56% 40% 42%

40-49 73% 73% 71% 71% 69% 63% 60% 71% 66% 70% 62% 64% 64% 67% 61% 58% 60% 62% 54% 56% 54% 53% 59% 60% 57% 62% 52% 48% 45% 50% 44% 44% 49% 44% 39% 38% 38% 41% 29% 28% 35% 35% 28% 37% 30% 34% 21% 27%

50+ 47% 47% 52% 58% 48% 52% 52% 55% 48% 54% 53% 52% 51% 36% 51% 51% 44% 35% 35% 40% 40% 35% 37% 42% 38% 26% 31% 29% 30% 18% 18% 18% 24% 13% 16% 25% 24% 23% 15% 14% 9% 14% 11% 19% 23% 15% 30% 29%

The Greatest Field Goal Kickers Ever, Part III Now, we’ll look at the best kickers by career. The table below shows each kicker’s career grade, using the familiar weight of 100% of the player’s best season, 95% of his second best, 90% of his third best, etc. This is useful because when we think of Jan Stenerud, we’re not thinking of his awful 1985 season — we’re thinking of him at his best. If you have a bunch of good seasons and several more average ones, a bad season as a very young or old player won’t kill your career rating, and I think that is appropriate. Here’s the list of the top 75 kickers from ‘60 to ‘07.

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Rank 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60

Kicker Jan Stenerud Nick Lowery Morten Andersen Gary Anderson Eddie Murray Garo Yepremian Mark Moseley Fred Cox Jim Turner Jason Hanson Mike Vanderjagt Norm Johnson Matt Stover John Carney Jim Bakken George Blanda Don Cockroft Jason Elam John Kasay Al Del Greco Jeff Wilkins Pete Stoyanovich Horst Muhlmann Bruce Gossett Sam Baker Pat Leahy Errol Mann Tom Dempsey Mike Mercer Rafael Septien Ryan Longwell Doug Brien Efren Herrera Toni Fritsch Gene Mingo Gino Cappelletti Ray Wersching Raul Allegre Paul McFadden Don Chandler Rolf Benirschke Mick Luckhurst Shayne Graham Donald Igwebuike Joe Nedney Chester Marcol John Smith Adam Vinatieri Tony Zendejas John Leypoldt Todd Peterson Mike Hollis David Akers Dean Biasucci Chris Jacke Cary Blanchard Nate Kaeding George Blair Steve Christie Tony Franklin

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Value 136.2 124.6 109.6 100.4 83.7 82.7 76.0 73.6 73.1 68.5 65.8 65.1 63.7 63.1 61.9 58.5 54.9 54.3 54.2 49.9 47.0 43.2 41.3 39.7 38.1 37.2 36.0 35.2 35.1 35.0 34.5 33.8 33.1 32.9 32.4 31.7 31.4 30.5 29.2 28.8 27.6 27.5 26.2 25.5 24.9 24.9 24.0 22.0 21.3 20.2 19.9 19.3 18.7 18.6 17.6 16.9 16.5 16.5 16.5 15.5

rkyr 1967 1978 1982 1982 1980 1966 1970 1963 1964 1992 1998 1982 1991 1988 1962 1949 1968 1993 1991 1984 1994 1989 1969 1964 1953 1974 1968 1969 1961 1977 1997 1994 1974 1971 1960 1960 1973 1983 1984 1956 1977 1981 2001 1985 1996 1972 1974 1996 1985 1971 1994 1995 1998 1984 1989 1992 2004 1961 1990 1979

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

14. John Carney

52. Mike Hollis

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61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75

Matt Bahr Olindo Mare Rian Lindell Fuad Reveiz Pete Gogolak Rich Karlis Jeff Jaeger Jim Breech Josh Brown Mike Clark Bob Thomas Sebastian Janikowski George Fleming Pat Summerall Paul Edinger

15.5 13.8 13.1 12.9 12.8 12.1 11.4 11.0 10.9 10.2 9.7 9.4 9.2 8.9 8.4

1979 1997 2000 1985 1964 1982 1987 1979 2003 1963 1975 2000 1961 1952 2000

When I ranked the RBs, I had a separate formula which awarded 10 points each year to the best RB, 9 points to the second best, and so on. We can do the same thing for kickers. Lowery had two seasons as the NFL’s top kicker (+20), four seasons as runner up (+36), two more seasons in the top three (+16), along with a #5, #7, two #9 and a #10 finish. That totals 87, the most in this system. Stenerud had three seasons atop the charts (+30), two more seasons at #2 (+18) or #3 (+16), one season at #5, one at #8, and three where he rounded out the top ten. Here are the rankings in this scoring system: Kicker 1. Nick Lowery 2. Morten Andersen 3. Jan Stenerud 4. Gary Anderson 5. Eddie Murray 6. Mark Moseley 7. Jason Hanson 8. Norm Johnson 9. Garo Yepremian 10. Jim Turner 11. Fred Cox 12. Matt Stover 13. George Blanda 14. Don Cockroft 15. Mike Vanderjagt 16. Jason Elam 17. Jim Bakken 18. John Carney 19. Gene Mingo 20. Gino Cappelletti 21. Bruce Gossett 22. John Kasay 23. Al Del Greco 24. Errol Mann 25. Pete Stoyanovich 26. Don Chandler 27. Jeff Wilkins 28. Sam Baker 29. Mike Mercer 30. Pat Leahy 31. Ryan Longwell 32. Adam Vinatieri 33. Tom Dempsey 34. Doug Brien 35. Toni Fritsch 36. Tony Zendejas 37. Efren Herrera www.footballguys.com

VALUE 124.6 109.6 136.2 100.4 83.7 76.0 68.5 65.1 82.7 73.1 73.6 63.7 58.5 54.9 65.8 54.3 61.9 63.1 32.4 31.7 39.7 54.2 49.9 36.0 43.2 28.8 47.0 38.1 35.1 37.2 34.5 22.0 35.2 33.8 32.9 21.3 33.1

rkyr 1978 1982 1967 1982 1980 1970 1992 1982 1966 1964 1963 1991 1949 1968 1998 1993 1962 1988 1960 1960 1964 1991 1984 1968 1989 1956 1994 1953 1961 1974 1997 1996 1969 1994 1971 1985 1974

Rk Score 87 77 76 70 63 56 53 53 52 52 51 51 50 49 47 46 45 44 42 39 38 37 36 33 32 32 30 29 29 27 26 26 24 24 24 22 21

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1. Nick Lowry

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38. John Smith 39. Ray Wersching 40. Rolf Benirschke 41. David Akers 42. Dean Biasucci 43. Tony Franklin 44. Horst Muhlmann 45. Chester Marcol 46. Chris Jacke 47. Steve Christie 48. Paul McFadden 49. John Leypoldt 50. Fuad Reveiz 51. Paul Hornung 52. Rafael Septien 53. Raul Allegre 54. Todd Peterson 55. Jeff Jaeger 56. Joe Danelo 57. Joe Nedney 58. George Blair 59. Pete Gogolak 60. Bob Thomas 61. Paul Edinger 62. Martin Gramatica 63. Roger Ruzek 64. Rian Lindell 65. Scott Norwood

24.0 31.4 27.6 18.7 18.6 15.5 41.3 24.9 17.6 16.5 29.2 20.2 12.9 - 4.4 35.0 30.5 19.9 11.4 - 8.2 24.9 16.5 12.8 9.7 8.4 3.4 -10.2 13.1 3.3

1974 1973 1977 1998 1984 1979 1969 1972 1989 1990 1984 1971 1985 1957 1977 1983 1994 1987 1975 1996 1961 1964 1975 2000 1999 1987 2000 1985

21 20 20 20 20 20 19 19 19 19 18 18 18 18 17 17 17 17 17 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 15 15

62. Martin Gramatica

I want to make three quick Pro Football Hall of Fame notes: •

Nick Lowery’s HOF case is pretty strong. Comparing across positions is very difficult, but if you want to assume that Stenerud is a worthy HOFer, then I think Lowery should be considered one, as well. Stenerud may be slightly better, and he likely had a greater impact on the game (as Gary alluded to in the comments to Monday’s post, Stenerud was one of the first soccer style kickers and he changed the way many viewed the kicker position). But still, Lowery was so accurate and successful for so long, that he should be a HOFer. And, of course, his numbers are not inflated by playing in a domed stadium or a particularly nice climate. Lowery kicked Stenerud out of KC in 1980 — the placekicker’s version of Young replacing Montana.

At least for now — before we break field goal length down into even smaller increments and before we introduce some sort of weather variable to our formula — I feel confident in stating that Morten Andersen was better than Gary Anderson. This seems to be the prevailing opinion, at least among those who can separate out which was which. What’s more important, though, is that both are clearly ahead of everyone not named Stenerud or Lowery. Those four kickers are in a tier of their own. Is Andersen a HOFer? He’s got the career records (points, field goals made, games) but I would still put Lowery in before Andersen.

Some will make a case for Vinatieri for the HOF one day. He certainly will look much better once I figure out how to include some sort of variable to boost up cold weather kickers. But outside of that, Vinatieri’s HOF case is absurd. Even if he didn’t have the two missed field goals in Super Bowl XXXVIII, his history of clutch performances is not nearly enough to boost an otherwise weak resume. Vinatieri will get some love from those who don’t know how to grade kickers, from those who love the Patriots, and from those who enjoy sparking controversy, but he’s not a legitimate candidate when there’s just one pure placekicker in the HOF.

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10. Bonus Scorers “The seagull sees farthest who flies highest” - French proverb BONUS POINTS SCORED ANNUALLY (last five years) The bonus points are in addition to the standard three points for a FG. Every successful FG from 40 to 49 yards is worth an additional point, and every 50+ yard FG is worth two additional points. Avg/yr

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

4049

4049

50+

50+

Brown, Josh

14.2

8

14

13

14

22

35

48

18

27

Rackers, Neil

13.8

16

25

9

11

8

37

43

16

34

Crosby, Mason

13.0

15

11

14

20

6

11

Hanson, Jason

13.0

17

22

33

42

16

22

Folk, Nick

12.5

11

14

17

18

4

7

Bironas, Rob

12.3

Kasay, John

11.6

Elam, Jason

11.4

Carpenter, Dan

11.0

Janikowski, Sebastian

11.0

12

7

9

Longwell, Ryan

11.0

10

11

Brown, Kris

10.8

8

Nedney, Joe

10.3

Akers, David

9.4

Lindell, Rian

Kicker

5

8

13

9

6

17

17

33

44

8

13

7

12

16

10

13

32

40

13

25

15

11

8

11

12

43

55

7

13

11

9

13

1

1

19

8

27

39

14

30

4

12

18

29

39

13

20

6

11

17

12

36

48

9

15

14

9

6

12

29

34

6

11

19

7

6

3

12

35

51

6

14

9.2

1

13

12

8

12

30

44

8

11

Scobee, Josh

9.2

7

9

14

3

13

32

46

7

12

Graham, Shayne

9.0

13

7

10

6

9

35

43

5

10

Stover, Matt

9.0

13

11

8

8

5

39

52

3

6

Gould, Robbie

8.8

3

12

12

8

35

47

0

2

Kaeding, Nate

8.4

11

8

9

9

5

30

42

6

9

Dawson, Phil

8.2

8

5

8

9

11

29

40

6

10

Mare, Olindo

8.2

7

8

11

4

11

25

31

8

20

Feely, Jay

8.0

3

14

6

9

8

28

38

6

9

Prater, Matt

8.0

1

15

6

14

5

6

Nugent, Mike

7.7

Reed, Jeff

7.0

Suisham, Shaun

7.0

Tynes, Lawrence

6.8

Carney, John

7

8

8

0

17

22

3

9

6

6

4

10

27

39

4

8

0

3

12

13

22

32

3

7

7

8

11

8

0

22

32

6

11

6.6

9

8

7

2

7

25

35

4

5

Bryant, Matt

6.4

2

12

7

6

5

28

38

2

10

Vinatieri, Adam

6.4

11

4

9

0

8

28

37

2

7

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9

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Kicker

Avg/yr

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

4049

4049

50+

50+

4

3

11

14

20

2

2

4

4

4

0

0

Gostkowski, Stephen

6.0

Hartley, Garrett

4.0

Rayner, Dave

3.8

Gramatica, Martin

3.5

Hauschka, Steven

2.0

Novak, Nick

2.0

1

3

Koenen, Michael

1.3

2

2

Barth, Connor

1.0

Mehlhaff, Taylor

1.0

0 3

10

5

0

13

19

1

5

3

4

4

8

17

3

4

2

0

0

1

2

2

6

10

0

1

0

1

2

7

1

1

1

0

1

1

1

1

0

0

0

Notes and Observations: ƒ

Josh Brown and Jason Hanson both climbed in the rankings thanks to a big 2008.

ƒ

Mason Crosby and Nick Folk are both off to a good start after just two years.

ƒ

Matt Stover Akers and Kris Brown are heading in opposite directions.

ƒ

John Kasay, Jason Elam, and Ryan Longwell have been fairly consistent in this category from year to year.

ƒ

Rob Bironas might be the current safest bet.

ƒ

Stephen Gostkowski showed signs of improvement in his third year.

We asked some NFL kickers to discuss any differences in attempting a long field as compared to a medium or short range kick. Here are their answers: Robbie Gould “No you keep everything the same. The only thing I would say about long field goals is, if you have a 60-plus yarder you are going to have to hit it a little bit lower.” Mason Crosby “I try to kick every ball exactly the same way, no matter the distance. That keeps me from over swinging in long field goal situations.”

Josh Brown scored in double digits in bonus points the last four consecutive years. John Kasay is the only other player to have done the same.

Jeff Reed “If you hit a 35-yard field goal good, it is going to go 50 yards. Sometimes you think about kicking a longer field goal, and that is when you screw up. It is not because of the distance, it is because in your head you think that you have to kick it harder. Once, I attempted a 65-yarder in a game before; that one, if you get too much height on it, you are not going to make it. You have to drive it a little more. There is a point where when you try a really long field goal, they are going to bring a rush up the middle and jump to try to block it. That is when things can go bad for you.”

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 30


Connor Barth “You don’t try to, unless you’re really hitting a bomb, like maybe outside of 60 yards. Maybe like a potential game winner or something before the half, then you might just try to really give it all you’ve got. When we’ve been taught to kick, it’s always pretty much the same thing. You want to kick an extra point the same as you would kick a 50 yard field goal. You don’t want to change up your stroke at all. You want to keep the same leg swing as you do when you’re kicking a 30 yarder as you’re kicking a 50 yarder. It’s all about mental reps and continuing to have the same leg swing over and over again. That’s why for kicking a football they try to use golf for a lot of the different situations. It’s the same thing in golf; you want to have the same motion every time. With kicking you really don’t want to try to get out of your rhythm unless you’re kicking maybe a long 50 yard field goal into the wind. Then you might lower the trajectory and hit more of a line drive, but for the most part if you’re kicking on a normal day, no wind, you just want to keep your stroke the same from that extra point all the way out to 50 yards. You never want to break out of your routine, because that’s what got you there. You want to keep doing the same thing every time.”

Josh Scobee sets up for a field goal attempt.

Joe Nedney “I make no technique adjustments on long field goals.” Ryan Longwell “None.”

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 31


11. Consistent Scorers “Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life. The only completely consistent people are dead.” - Aldous Huxley TEAM KICKING POINTS WEEKLY HIGHS AND LOWS 2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

ppg

low

high

ppg

low

high

ppg

low

high

ppg

low

high

ppg

low

high

Ari

7.4

1

14

6.9

1

12

7.3

2

14

9.3

5

19

5.9

2

11

Atl

8.1

2

16

6.1

0

14

6.3

2

20

6.7

2

12

5.9

0

11

Bal

7.8

3

15

6.7

0

16

7.6

1

14

7.1

1

13

7.3

1

14

Buf

7.8

0

18

6.0

0

15

6.4

1

17

7.1

1

16

7.3

0

15

Car

8.1

3

15

6.2

1

13

6.3

2

14

7.6

3

14

6.2

0

20

Chi

7.4

2

12

7.9

1

13

8.9

1

16

5.8

1

13

4.2

1

11

Cin

5.3

1

11

8.1

3

21

7.2

3

11

8.2

3

13

7.6

2

16

Cle

6.8

0

17

7.5

1

15

5.5

0

19

6.3

0

10

6.3

0

16

Dal

6.4

2

15

8.2

4

13

6.8

1

11

5.9

1

15

5.7

1

13

Den

7.1

1

13

7.1

1

11

7.2

4

13

7.2

3

12

8.1

4

15

Det

5.5

1

11

7.6

2

14

7.3

1

15

5.3

0

10

6.3

1

14

GB

7.9

3

13

8.8

1

15

6.8

0

12

5.6

1

15

7.5

1

11

Hou

7.8

3

12

7.2

1

16

5.2

1

11

6.4

1

15

5.3

1

12

Ind

6.4

2

15

7.4

1

12

7.8

2

14

7.6

4

14

7.8

2

14

Jac

5.6

1

12

6.8

1

18

7.4

1

14

6.7

1

14

5.8

0

13

KC

4.9

0

15

4.9

1

12

6.7

1

13

7.8

2

14

6.8

3

10

Mia

6.4

2

14

5.6

0

13

6.3

0

16

6.8

0

14

5.2

1

9

Min

7.9

4

15

6.2

0

11

5.6

1

10

6.6

0

15

6.2

1

11

NE

9.3

4

17

8.6

4

12

6.4

0

16

6.3

3

11

8.8

3

17

NO

7.4

1

12

5.4

1

11

7.2

0

13

6.1

3

13

6.5

1

16

NYG

9.3

2

14

6.8

3

11

6.7

1

13

9.3

5

18

6.2

1

16

NYJ

7.1

2

17

6.9

0

16

6.6

0

14

5.6

0

14

6.6

1

11

Oak

6.1

0

11

6.1

1

16

4.4

0

9

5.6

1

13

6.6

1

14

Phi

9.0

1

16

6.8

3

12

6.4

3

11

6.1

0

13

7.6

0

17

Pit

7.3

2

15

7.1

2

14

6.3

0

13

7.3

1

11

7.8

1

17

SD

7.9

2

12

7.4

2

15

8.5

3

16

7.0

1

14

7.1

3

11

Sea

6.4

1

13

7.9

0

15

6.9

2

14

6.9

2

13

6.8

2

12

SF

7.6

3

15

4.6

0

10

7.3

0

14

6.2

2

15

4.8

0

9

Stl

7.0

1

13

6.1

1

13

8.2

0

18

7.3

1

13

5.6

1

11

TB

8.2

4

13

7.4

2

13

4.6

0

11

6.1

0

12

4.8

1

9

Ten

7.9

0

17

8.3

4

26

6.1

0

12

6.2

1

15

6.0

3

12

Was

6.4

1

14

7.3

1

15

6.1

2

13

5.8

0

10

5.1

1

14

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 32


Notes and Observations: •

In certain fantasy leagues and competition formats, finding a kicker that has steady weekly production and that doesn’t have a dud week (one or zero points) can be an important consideration. Unfortunately, over the course of a year, even most good players have an off week.

The “low” columns above are highlighted with yellow for teams that scored four of five kicking points in their worst week of the year. Green highlighting indicates three kicking points in their worst week of the year. Blue is the dreaded zero.

The overall increase in kicker scoring in 2008 was also reflected in the fact that only four teams had games where they scored zero kicking points. That was the fewest of this decade. In both 2003 and 2006 there were twelve teams that had that dubious distinction.

A tale of two cities in Ohio. Up until 2008, Cincinnati had one of the stronger streaks going. Cleveland has really struggled in this category.

Stephen Gostkowski The Patriots scored at least four kicking points in every game over two consecutive years (2007 - 2008). They are the only team to have done so during the last five years.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 33


12. Squandered Scoring Opportunities “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him split the uprights.” – author unknown ANNUAL TEAM MISSED KICKING POINTS ‘08

‘07

‘06

‘05

‘04

‘03

‘02

‘01

‘00

‘99

‘98

‘97

‘96

‘95

‘94

‘93

‘92

Ari

-9

-28

-27

-6

-21

-25

-18

-15

-22

-24

-30

-31

-26

-27

-24

-21

-40

Atl

-6

-24

-27

-9

-15

-25

-25

-24

-18

-18

-16

-12

-21

-22

-12

-3

-12

Bal

-21

-15

-6

-15

-9

-18

-15

-15

-12

-15

-21

-24

-19

-12

-6

-18

-25

Buf

-24

-9

-6

-18

-12

-21

-24

-34

-27

-27

-24

-18

-15

-29

-12

-28

-19

Car

-9

-12

-9

-25

-16

-19

-30

-16

-12

-10

-23

-12

-25

-22

Chi

-9

-15

-12

-28

-27

-30

-18

-15

-18

-46

-16

-15

-21

-24

-24

-28

-21

Cin

-9

-9

-17

-12

-12

-9

-11

-34

-27

-27

-24

-14

-15

-21

-16

-24

-27

Cle

-18

-13

-24

-8

-15

-16

-19

-10

-9

-13

Dal

-6

-15

-24

-25

-18

-19

-21

-33

-24

-36

-18

-9

-13

-5

-21

-22

-34

Den

-28

-12

-6

-25

-15

-12

-31

-15

-24

-21

-13

-33

-21

-21

-21

-28

-15

Det

-4

-19

-12

-16

-12

-4

-15

-27

-18

-19

-14

-10

-15

-18

-28

-27

-15

GB

-21

-24

-28

-22

-12

-9

-18

-34

-15

-15

-14

-18

-20

-24

-23

-18

-21

Hou

-12

-12

-19

-24

-21

-12

-21

Ind

-15

-20

-10

-9

-19

0

-24

-19

-6

-12

-12

-27

-12

-30

-24

-16

-39

Jac

-18

-11

-18

-22

-21

-39

-24

-32

-6

-21

-15

-15

-18

-22

KC

-18

-24

-22

-19

-20

-13

-12

-25

-21

-21

-15

-4

-21

-21

-15

-18

-6

Mia

-12

-6

-30

-15

-13

-22

-22

-7

-10

-21

-16

-24

-34

-21

-21

-24

-23

Min

-15

-13

-13

-27

-12

-21

-21

-10

-3

-33

0

-25

-21

-30

-15

-28

-18

NE

-12

-9

-19

-16

-6

-28

-9

-19

-18

-22

-24

-12

-27

-30

-24

-36

-20

NO

-16

-21

-10

-21

-15

-25

-12

-12

-18

-16

-6

-12

-12

-35

-33

-21

-16

NYG

-9

-14

-12

-21

-18

-21

-17

-16

-18

-15

-18

-32

-9

-24

-22

-19

-15

NYJ

-15

-22

-10

-18

-16

-15

-26

-21

-33

-20

-31

-39

-22

-12

-10

-27

-33

Oak

-19

-27

-21

-30

-10

-10

-21

-19

-30

-39

-30

-29

-21

-19

-18

-29

-33

Phi

-21

-24

-15

-22

-16

-15

-12

-16

-14

-33

-23

-27

-12

-25

-12

-25

-31

Pit

-13

-6

-21

-15

-15

-28

-35

-45

-16

-13

-18

-9

-21

-21

-15

-6

-26

SD

-15

-9

-9

-9

-16

-15

-25

-39

-21

-16

-12

-16

-21

-16

-12

-29

-18

Sea

-9

-18

-18

-22

-6

-24

-18

-36

-15

-18

-15

-18

-18

-15

-13

-15

-24

SF

-12

-6

-18

-9

-12

-36

-9

-21

-23

-7

-29

-21

-12

-27

-17

-32

-28

Stl

-15

-24

-15

-12

-15

-9

-18

-18

-6

-24

-19

-36

-13

-34

-15

-23

-15

TB

-19

-15

-16

-15

-28

-31

-21

-21

-18

-15

-22

-15

-22

-21

-36

-18

-30

Ten

-12

-12

-18

-20

-14

-19

-18

-25

-19

-12

-9

-24

-18

-12

-12

-16

-18

Was

-30

-19

-24

-12

-24

-25

-28

-21

-26

-31

-31

-24

-18

-27

-26

-38

-30

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 34


Notes and Observations: ƒ

In fantasy leagues that penalize for missed kicks, avoiding kickers that squander scoring opportunities is an important consideration.

ƒ

In recent years, Green Bay, Kansas City, Oakland Philadelphia, and Washington have struggled the most in this aspect.

ƒ

Washington’s struggles extend back throughout much of the past two decades.

ƒ

Arizona and Atlanta both rebounded in 2008, after two backto-back difficult years.

ƒ

Baltimore and the NY Giants have the best streaks going of not squandering lots of points.

ƒ

Cincinnati’s missed point totals have been in single digits each of the last two years.

ƒ

In 2008, nine different teams kept their missed kicking points in single digits.

ƒ

Looking at the entire chart emphasizes the increasing accuracy of kickers over the years.

In 1999, the Chicago Bears triumvirate of Chris Boniol, Jeff Jaeger, and Brian Gowins had a rough year, missing a combined 15 field goals and one extra point leaving 46 points on the table.

Garrett Hartley In 2008, The New Orleans Saints also used three different kickers; however they fared better as a group on the strength of Hartley’s performance (13 of 13 on field goals).

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 35


13. Field Goal Opportunities “Ability is nothing without opportunity.” - Napoleon Bonaparte COMPARISON OF ATTEMPTED FIELD GOALS TO TOTAL KICKER SCORING pts 2007

2008

pts 2006

pts 2005

pts 2004

pts 2003

pts 2002

pts

FGA Arnk rnk FGA Arnk rnk FGA Arnk rnk FGA Arnk rnk FGA Arnk rnk FGA Arnk rnk FGA Arnk rnk 40

1

2

39

1

1

37

1

8

45

1

1

34

1

2

42

1

1

40

1

1

40

1

3

39

1

3

37

1

3

42

2

2

33

2

1

40

2

4

40

1

8

39

3

1

36

3

7

36

3

1

35

3

10

33

2

3

38

3

5

39

3

4

38

4

12

36

3

17

36

3

23

35

3

10

32

4

8

37

4

2

36

4

9

38

4

4

35

5

8

35

5

14

34

5

5

32

4

5

37

4

8

35

5

3

36

6

22

35

5

13

35

5

8

34

5

18

31

6

5

37

4

3

34

6

4

36

6

21

34

7

23

33

7

7

34

5

17

31

6

24

36

7

14

34

6

2

36

6

23

34

7

5

32

8

23

33

8

4

29

8

22

34

8

11

33

8

12

35

9

11

34

7

6

32

8

6

32

9

3

29

8

16

33

9

25

33

8

4

34

10

19

33

10

10

31

10

16

32

9

9

29

8

14

33

9

18

32

10

17

34

10

7

32

11

22

31

10

13

32

9

25

28

11

8

32

11

5

31

11

19

34

10

7

32

11

26

30

12

5

31

12

28

28

11

16

32

11

14

31

11

13

33

13

12

32

11

21

30

12

10

31

12

7

28

11

7

32

11

19

31

11

16

33

13

14

32

11

26

30

12

27

30

14

15

28

11

18

30

14

16

31

11

14

33

13

7

31

15

4

29

15

29

30

14

14

28

11

13

30

14

9

30

15

10

32

16

7

31

15

15

29

15

10

30

14

29

27

16

15

29

16

20

29

16

15

31

17

6

30

17

17

29

15

4

29

17

20

27

16

21

29

16

20

29

16

17

31

17

5

30

17

9

29

15

2

29

17

23

27

16

29

29

16

9

29

16

10

31

17

18

29

19

14

28

19

14

29

17

7

26

19

25

28

19

23

28

19

23

30

20

28

29

19

10

28

19

26

29

17

21

26

19

3

27

20

26

28

19

20

29

21

15

28

21

24

27

21

23

29

17

21

25

21

18

27

20

27

28

19

20

29

21

20

27

22

28

27

21

16

28

22

26

25

21

10

26

22

32

27

22

25

28

23

15

27

22

31

27

21

18

28

22

29

25

21

11

26

22

7

27

22

7

27

24

15

27

22

19

27

21

22

27

24

15

24

24

32

26

22

28

26

24

22

27

24

26

27

22

10

26

25

19

27

24

29

24

24

27

25

25

12

26

24

26

25

26

31

25

26

16

26

25

10

27

24

23

24

24

26

25

25

16

25

26

29

25

26

23

24

27

19

25

27

20

26

27

5

24

24

30

25

25

22

25

26

24

25

26

29

24

27

24

25

27

30

25

28

19

23

28

22

24

28

31

25

26

27

25

26

23

24

27

2

25

27

28

25

28

13

23

28

11

23

29

23

24

29

31

22

30

26

23

30

29

25

27

32

24

30

32

23

28

28

22

30

28

21

30

29

22

30

30

22

31

30

23

31

20

24

30

12

22

31

18

20

31

12

19

31

32

22

30

32

19

32

32

22

32

31

20

31

28

18

32

28

20

31

28

18

32

28

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 36


COMPARISON OF ATTEMPTED FIELD GOALS RANKING TO TOTAL KICKER SCORING RANKING pts.

top 5 FGA

top 6-10 FGA top 11-15 FGA top 16-20 FGA top 21-25 FGA

bottom FGA

rank

total

pct.

total

pct.

total

pct.

total

pct.

total

Pct.

total

pct.

1-5

63

64%

19

21%

7

7%

3

3%

2

2%

2

3%

6-10

23

23%

30

34%

20

20%

14

16%

7

8%

0

0%

11-15

6

6%

19

21%

23

23%

16

18%

12

13%

7

10%

16-20

5

5%

9

10%

27

27%

24

28%

12

13%

10

14%

21-25

2

2%

11

12%

13

13%

17

20%

29

33%

15

21%

26-32

0

0%

1

1%

9

9%

13

15%

27

30%

39

53%

Notes and Observations: •

It probably goes without saying that there is a strong correlation between number of field goal attempts and kicker scoring. But since this is the complete guide, we’ll mention it anyway.

The largest amount of attempted field goals each year is typically around 40. The least is typically around 20.

The table above does highlight that there are always a couple exceptions to the rule...

For example, the team that despite ranking only 27th in number of field goals attempted in 2007, nonetheless ranked second in actual kicker scoring. How did they do it? A record seventy-four extra points by Gostkowski.

Conversely, Miami ranked only 23rd in kicker scoring in 2006 despite having the third most field goal attempts. How did they do it? They had very few extra points and Olindo Mare missed ten of those field goal attempts. In 1966, the Los Angeles Rams’ Bruce Gossett attempted a record 49 field goals. He made 28 of them (57.1%).

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 37


14. Accuracy "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." - Wyatt Earp COMPARISON OF ANNUAL FG% (ACCURACY) RANKING TO POINTS SCORED RANKINGS 2008 FG%

pts 2007

pts 2006

pts 2005

pts 2004

pts 2003

pts

%rnk rnk FG% %rnk rnk FG% %rnk rnk FG% %rnk rnk FG% %rnk rnk FG% %rnk rnk

95.5%

1

30 92.0%

1

16 93.3%

1

5

95.6%

1

1

93.9%

1

1

100%

1

2

93.5%

2

6

91.3%

2

29 93.1%

2

10 93.1%

2

20 92.0%

2

11 95.7%

2

23

92.3%

3

1

91.2%

3

5

92.0%

3

20 89.7%

3

21 90.6%

3

8

92.9%

3

1

90.9%

4

26 89.7%

4

3

89.7%

4

4

88.9%

4

15 89.3%

4

13 88.5%

4

7

90.3%

5

5

89.5%

5

32 89.7%

4

2

88.5%

5

5

87.1%

5

5

88.0%

5

12

90.0%

6

2

88.9%

6

28 88.9%

6

23 87.5%

6

3

85.7%

6

8

88.0%

5

22

89.7%

7

15 88.9%

6

10 88.9%

6

1

87.5%

6

12 85.7%

6

16 87.5%

7

5

89.3%

8

15 87.5%

8

19 88.9%

6

18 87.1%

8

7

85.7%

6

7

86.5%

8

3

88.9%

9

26 87.5%

8

2

88.5%

9

10 85.7%

9

10 85.3%

9

2

85.0%

9

4

88.0%

10

31 87.1%

10

15 87.9%

10

7

83.3%

10

14 84.8%

10

3

84.4%

10

14

87.9%

11

12 86.7%

11

9

86.5%

11

3

83.3%

10

2

84.4%

11

5

84.2%

11

5

87.9%

11

14 86.2%

12

14 85.2%

12

16 82.9%

12

10 82.8%

12

16 82.8%

12

9

87.9%

11

7

86.1%

13

7

84.0%

13

28 82.8%

13

7

82.8%

12

14 82.1%

13

23

87.1%

14

18 85.7%

14

24 83.3%

14

10 81.8%

14

4

82.6%

14

28 81.8%

14

28

86.1%

15

21 85.2%

15

19 82.9%

15

8

81.5%

15

23 81.8%

15

18 80.0%

15

12

85.3%

16

7

84.8%

16

10 81.3%

16

6

81.0%

16

27 81.8%

15

30 79.3%

16

20

84.4%

17

7

84.4%

17

22 80.6%

17

13 80.0%

17

19 81.5%

17

15 75.9%

17

20

84.2%

18

4

83.9%

18

4

78.6%

18

26 79.3%

18

21 80.0%

18

18 75.8%

18

18

84.0%

19

23 83.3%

19

24 78.3%

19

20 79.2%

19

32 80.0%

18

10 75.0%

19

28

83.3%

20

22 82.9%

20

8

77.4%

20

16 78.6%

20

29 79.2%

20

26 74.1%

20

27

82.8%

21

20 82.9%

20

13 77.3%

21

31 78.1%

21

25 78.6%

21

18 73.5%

21

11

82.5%

22

3

82.4%

22

6

76.9%

22

19 76.7%

22

15 78.3%

22

22 73.3%

22

16

81.5%

23

15 80.6%

23

17 76.0%

23

30 76.5%

23

5

77.4%

23

24 73.3%

22

9

80.0%

24

11 79.5%

24

1

75.7%

24

8

76.5%

23

18 76.9%

24

25 72.2%

24

14

80.0%

24

23 79.3%

25

10 74.3%

25

14 75.9%

25

23 76.9%

24

3

72.0%

25

16

80.0%

24

28 76.5%

26

23 74.1%

26

22 75.0%

26

9

75.9%

26

22 71.9%

26

19

79.4%

27

7

75.0%

27

21 73.3%

27

27 74.1%

27

29 73.9%

27

11 70.8%

27

31

78.9%

28

12 75.0%

27

26 72.4%

28

29 73.5%

28

17 70.8%

28

27 70.4%

28

26

76.0%

29

29 71.9%

29

26 72.2%

29

23 72.0%

29

13 70.4%

29

21 70.3%

29

8

73.5%

30

19 70.4%

30

31 72.0%

30

32 71.4%

30

26 70.4%

29

29 69.2%

30

32

72.7%

31

32 70.0%

31

17 71.9%

31

23 71.0%

31

28 62.5%

31

32 61.5%

31

28

72.2%

32

23 68.2%

32

30 71.4%

32

14 66.7%

32

29 62.5%

31

30 60.6%

32

25

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90-100% Rank

85-89.9%

80-84.9%

75-79.9%

70-74.9%

50-69.9%

total

avg.

total

avg.

total

avg.

total

avg.

total

avg.

total

avg.

1-5

9

32%

21

32%

15

18%

6

11%

1

2%

2

6%

6-10

6

21%

17

26%

18

21%

7

12%

4

8%

2

6%

11-15

3

11%

10

15%

15

18%

9

16%

8

16%

1

3%

16-20

5

18%

7

11%

13

15%

14

25%

9

18%

1

3%

21-25

2

7%

6

9%

15

18%

11

19%

9

18%

5

16%

26-32

3

11%

4

6%

9

11%

10

18%

20

39%

21

66%

Notes and Observations: •

Similar to number of field goals attempted, there is an obvious correlation between field goal accuracy and kicking points scored, although the correlation is not quite as strong.

The strongest correlation to being a top ten scorer is to have a field goal percentage in the upper 80’s, although last year the near perfectionists staked their claim to many of the top spots.

Kickers down at the low end of the accuracy range are almost assured of not scoring many points.

In 2003, half the teams were connecting on less than 80% of their field goal attempts. In 2008, there were only six teams.

Neil Rackers In 2005, Rackers had a career year, leading the Arizona Cardinals to the top spot in both field goal accuracy and kicker scoring.

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15. Why Do They Keep Getting Better? “They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds.” - Winston Churchill Note: special thanks to Footballguys staff member David Yudkin, who raised this question in The Shark Pool, FBG’s online football discussion forum… and thanks to all who contributed to that discussion. The question had been half lingering in the back of my mind the last few years, but this prompted me to finally start organizing the answers. What do we mean by “better”? In 2008, NFL kickers as a collective group were successful on 84.5% of their field goal attempts. That is the highest rate ever. Six teams connected on at least 90% of their field goal attempts. That is the most ever. Over the past two decades, the best annual field goal percentage has been in the 90s. In 1998 it went all the way to 100% with the perfect season by Minnesota’s Gary Anderson, and again in 2003 by Indianapolis’ Mike Vanderjagt. But as we starting heading back in time, we can see where those numbers are better. Keep in mind these are the best numbers, which means the league averages were obviously less. In the 1980s, the highest annual field goal percentage was typically in the mid to upper 80s, although Jan Stenerud did achieve the first ever 90+ season with 91.7% (22 of 24) in 1981 with Green Bay. In the 1970’s it was typically in the upper 70s or low 80s. In the 1950s and 1960s it was in the mid 60s to mid 70s. In the 1940s the best annual numbers ranged from 33.3% to 75.0%. In simple terms, kickers’ accuracy has climbed steadily throughout the history of the NFL. Why do kickers keep getting better?

Top Ten Most Accurate Kickers Ever (minimum 100 successful field goals; through then end of the 2008 season) 1. 86.466% Mike Vanderjagt 2. 86.131% Nate Kaeding 3. 85.938% Robbie Gould 4. 85.644% Shayne Graham 5. 84.496% Rob Bironas 6. 83.696% Matt Stover 7. 82.813% Phil Dawson 8. 82.653% Jeff Reed 9. 82.585% John Carney 10. 82.222% Ryan Longwell

Specialization th

When American football developed in the latter part of the 19 century, there was no separate kicker position. Kicking tasks were handled by players who also had full time roles on both offense and defense. Needless to say, the players spent little to no time studying, practicing, and perfecting kicking. It wasn’t until 1961 that a true kicking specialist surfaced, and that was only a result of injury. Cleveland Browns’ Lou “The Toe” Groza was a Pro Bowl offensive lineman and kicker. A back injury the previous year ended his ability to play on the line, but he continued to kick until 1967. The idea of having a player dedicated solely to kicking quickly caught on. It was also not until recent decades, that professional football players, and especially kickers, made enough money to make a living playing football. Previously players had to work other jobs during the off-season and in many cases also during the football season. Now that the position of kicker actually exists and can afford to work on kicking year round, they are able to focus on studying, practicing, and perfecting kicking.

Mike Vanderjagt remains atop the list, but with each passing year more kickers are getting closer.

Specialization of others has also helped to improve kicking. While the kicker is the one who puts his foot on the ball in the end, the long snapper and holder are vital members of the placekicking process. While holding is still handled as a secondary task by someone with another job, long snapping became a specialized role back in the 1970’s. It was not until 2005 that long snapping was recognized for a Pro Bowl spot. In a few instances, teams also divide placekicking and kickoffs in to two separate jobs.

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The creation of specialized roles also spread to the coaching ranks. In 1969, The Los Angeles Rams hired Dick Vermeil as their special teams coordinator – a position that had never previously existing in the NFL. More recently, some teams have also included a separate kicking coach. Steve Hoffman is probably the most notable example. All these people can now spend all their time devoted to one thing – kicking. Perfecting Their Craft Once players had time, they were then able to start perfecting. They could perfect what to do with every part of their body, from their head to their toe, before, during, and after a kick. Possibly more important than anything else, they could perfect the timing between themselves and their long snapper and holder. With advances in science, they could perfect their nutrition and conditioning. They could perfect how to adapt what they do as they aged. They could perfect how to adjust for the less extreme things that Mother Nature might throw at them. While many of the improvements evolved gradually over time, the largest fundamental change surfaced in the 1960’s and spread quickly. It linked back to the origins of the game. When American football emerged out of English Football (or what Americans call soccer) and out of Rugby, it soon diverged significantly in many ways. Nearly a century later, soccer resurfaced when a few Europeans discovered that they could kick a football more effectively soccer style, than Americans were able to do in their straight ahead approach. Pete Gogolak, drafted by the AFL’s Buffalo Bills in 1964b and then signed away by the NFL’s New York Giants two years later, is credited with being the first soccer style football kicker. Given his success, others quickly followed and the straight ahead kicker was soon extinct. Somewhat unique to kickers’ perfection of their craft is the fact that there is really nothing opposing teams can do to counter it. They’ve tried icing the kicker with a timeout, but most agree that doesn’t really work. The rules and methods don’t provide an opportunity for teams to find new ways of blocking kicks. Conversely, when offenses or defenses start perfecting their craft or come up with something new and effective, the opposition soon finds a way to stop it. The only one that can stop kickers from splitting the uprights is the NFL – by changing rules, the goalposts, or the ball.

With a tripod holder and several balls, Kris Brown is ready to practice. The mismatched shoes are more than just a fashion statement.

Technology Just like virtually every aspect of life, technology has also helped to advance the kicking of footballs. Although they are relatively lo-tech, practice equipment allows kickers more control over when they can and cannot practice. The tripod holder allows them to practice whenever they want, even if a human holder is not around. The JUGS machine allows them to not over kick, even when their team mates need to practice kick returns. Video technology provides kickers the opportunity to go back and watch every little detail of their kicks, over and over and over. They can pinpoint small adjustments to be made in their quest for perfection.

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The short-lived fad a barefoot kicking notwithstanding, the direct component of interaction with the ball is the shoe. Rather than wearing the same exact shoes as their team mates, kickers now have shoes specifically for their task. An individual kicker has shoes matched to his feet, typically differentiated between the kicking foot and the plant foots specific needs. Along the path leading to the ball, the kicker’s feet interact with the ground below, which has also been advanced by technology. Care and maintenance of grass has improved, for those stadiums that still have the natural surface. Recent decades have seen the advancement of artificial surfaces, which provide a uniform carpet for more uniform kicking. Expectations I don’t have any stats to support this but I believe as kicking accuracy has improved, that in turn has increased the expectations of the owners and coaches. In the old days I suspect teams settled more so for whatever their kicker happened to make (and miss). Now, if a kicker doesn’t produce he is dumped, and teams are more willing to search far and wide for a kicker than can produce. Competition There is plenty of competition for the 32 placekicking jobs in the NFL. The pool of available kickers has grown exponentially over the years. As the popularity of the sport grew, so did the number of kids playing the game from an early age. This created an increasing pool of football players, including kickers.

David Akers practices kicking off

While soccer has no where near the popularity in the USA as it does in the rest of the world, and that is an understatement, it had risen from the dead to a certain degree – especially at the youth level. This has created a large pool of potential football kickers. Many current NFL kickers played soccer, not football, during their early childhood years. Teams can now readily find their soccer style kicker without having to go to Europe. With the proliferation of sports camps, including many specific to kicking, the younger players have access and exposure to many of the kicking developments.

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David Akers kicks off

Page 42


We asked NFL kickers why they keep getting better. Following are their answers: Mason Crosby “Kicking is becoming a very refined, detailed skill. There is more interest in the details and specialty of kicking. There is truly a high level of veteran kickers in the NFL. The guys who have been around improving the field goal percentages for years are becoming more and more accurate and pushing younger kickers to keep pace. It is a great challenge to have. Now the precedent has been set… we have no choice to but to keep accuracy at an all time high level.” Robbie Gould “It’s just a matter of kickers becoming more specialized. Guys are now kicking more often year round. We are really getting a grasp of wind conditions and surface conditions.” Jeff Reed “It is kind of crazy. I look at my own stats because as a competitor you compare yourself to other guys no matter where they kick. At times you like to use the excuse ‘he made all of those kicks because he plays in a dome,’ but you still have to make them. It can definitely be a helping factor, but sometimes it won’t make a difference where you kick. Either way, with human error, nobody is perfect. To see guys kicking the way they are, and I think I have a great percentage the past two years, sometimes I have not even been considered for the Pro Bowl and other times I’m an alternate when I thought that I had an awesome year and our team had a great year. If you are under 80% you are not considered very good, and that is crazy because 80% is 4-of-5, and I would take that all day. If I finish at 80% - that is my goal every year. Obviously you want to be at 100%, but as a human you realize that you are not going to make everything. There are 31 other kickers in the NFL and 500 guys waiting to do your job, so I guess you just put a little bit of pressure on yourself because so many games come down to field goals.” Joe Nedney “Field goal accuracy has improved simply because placekickers have improved. The entire kicking position has become more of a craft and the kickers in the NFL are all very good at what they do. Also, teams don't tolerate a 70% kicker anymore like in decades past so there had to be improvement. The quality of the playing surfaces has helped too. We're kicking off fairways today as opposed to some of the conditions years ago.” Ryan Longwell “It's a more specialized position now, and teams that want to win tend to leave the kicker, holder, snapper combination together from year to year so there is no learning curve in starting each year. Plus games are so close now in the league you need a proven guy who can make the ones he's supposed to.” Where Do We Go From Here? Rich McKay, NFL Competition Committee Co-chairman "I think there was [such a discussion about again narrowing the goal post]. Maybe it's been eight or nine years. There has not been since then. I have not really heard much discussion of it. I think that the numbers have increased at a pretty high rate here with the accuracy.... It's just incredible how accurate the kickers have become. Does that mean there will be some discussion of it going forward? I don't know. But I wouldn't doubt that somebody is going to bring it back up because the accuracy is very impressive. I'll give them that. And maybe that's something, because we're always going to look at the ratio of touchdowns to field goals, and one of the things about accuracy of field goals is that ratio tends to go in the wrong direction. And so at some point I'm sure somebody will bring it back up and we'll be back talking about it."

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16. Attempts-Adjusted Accuracy (AAA) “Philosophy is like trying to open a safe with a combination lock: each little adjustment of the dials seems to achieve nothing, only when everything is in place does the door open.” - Ludwig Wittgenstein Section by guest freelance writer Andrew Brecher Even more than other fantasy football positions, kickers are a product of talent and opportunity. Both are important when ranking kickers, but just looking at kicker points in past years doesn’t help you distinguish between the two, which is important considering how much scoring opportunity can change from year to year. However, a closer look at kicker statistics can tell you a lot about a kicker’s talent – if you know what to look for. Because missed PATs are so rare, field goal percentage is commonly used to measure kickers’ talent. But very few people realize that it’s not a very good measure at all. Understanding what’s missing in that simple percentage is the key to discovering a kicker’s actual value. Let’s compare two hypothetical kickers. Suppose Kicker A makes 18 of 20 FGs (90%), while Kicker B makes 20 of 25 FGs (80%). Is it possible that Kicker B is really more talented? The answer is yes. A straight percentage does not differentiate between short and long FGs. All kickers are more accurate at shorter distances than at longer distances, so a kicker who only attempts shorter FGs will have a higher percentage than a kicker who attempts longer FGs, even if the talent is the same. So if Kicker A’s attempts tended to be of much shorter distance than Kicker B’s, comparing overall FG% doesn’t tell you anything about their talent. Understanding this, many people look at short-distance accuracy, such as attempts of less than 40 yards, separately from accuracy at longer distances. But this gets you only halfway there. Adjusting for distance is certainly better than looking at aggregate FG% alone, but it misses one crucial element of kicker performance. Let’s go back to our hypothetical Kicker A and Kicker B: Kicker A

Kicker B

0-39 yds

40-49 yds

50+ yds

0-39 yds

40-49 yds

50+ yds

16/17 (94%)

2/3 (67%)

0/0 (-)

14/15 (93%)

4/6 (67%)

2/4 (50%)

Looking just at just the percentages, it is not obvious which kicker is better. So let’s take a look behind the numbers. You can see that Kicker A is good at the short distances, but he only attempted a handful of FGs of 40 yards or more. Kicker B had more than three times as many attempts at long distances. What does this tell us? Most likely, Kicker A’s coach must not trust him to make a long FG! Kicker A’s coach probably knows that he is not very accurate at long distances, or may not have a strong enough leg to even try for a long FG. This is certainly not the case with Kicker B. Once you realize this, it becomes obvious that Kicker B is the better talent, and it’s not even very close. So how can you get a handle on this kind of talent differential without swimming in numbers? The solution is a rating measure called Attempts-Adjusted Accuracy (AAA). The AAA rating automatically adjusts for the extra attempts that good kickers get to make to give you a better picture of kicker talent. The AAA rating accounts for FG% under 40 yards (FG%[<40]) – attempts that every kicker should be expected to make – as well as FG% of 40+ yards (FG%[40+]), but includes an adjustment for the ratio of attempts that are 40+ yards (FGA[40+]) to attempts under 40 yards (FGA[<40]). For the mathematically inclined, the exact formula is: AAA = 100 * ((2/3 * FG%[<40]) + (1/3 * FG%[40+] * FGA[40+]/FGA[<40])) Kicker B has an AAA of 75.6, which is about average for NFL kickers, but Kicker A has a terrible AAA rating of 66.7. www.footballguys.com

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This is not a perfect measure of talent; for example, a coach may avoid a long FG attempt because of bad weather, not kicker talent. But unless a kicker changes teams, or a team is scheduled for a lot more outdoor December games above the Mason-Dixon Line than in the past, the effect of weather does not change much from one year to the next. So, for evaluating kickers for your fantasy team, this is not really a flaw. The list below ranks kickers based on AAA rating for field goals over the past few years. Using this ranking, along with your estimate of team scoring opportunities, will help you squeeze a few extra points from the kicker position throughout the year

AAA

Kicker

1-39 1-39 made att

1-39 pct

4049

40- 50+ 50+ 49 made att

total FGM

total FGA

Pct

97.0%

Carpenter, Dan

11

11

100.0%

9

13

1

1

21

25

84.0%

86.4%

Brown, Josh

72

76

94.7%

35

48

18

27

125

151

82.8%

85.3%

Kasay, John

76

77

98.7%

32

40

13

25

121

142

85.2%

84.5%

Folk, Nick

25

28

89.3%

17

18

4

7

46

53

86.8%

83.3%

Hanson, Jason

73

78

93.6%

33

42

16

22

122

142

85.9%

83.1%

Elam, Jason

86

89

96.6%

43

55

7

13

136

157

86.6%

82.0%

Rackers, Neil

83

89

93.3%

37

43

16

34

136

166

81.9%

81.9%

Bironas, Rob

68

72

94.4%

33

44

8

13

109

129

84.5%

81.5%

Hartley, Garrett

9

9

100.0%

4

4

0

0

13

13

100.0%

79.5%

Nedney, Joe

66

70

94.3%

29

34

6

11

101

115

87.8%

78.5%

Longwell, Ryan

72

79

91.1%

29

39

13

20

114

138

82.6%

78.4%

Janikowski, Sebastian

70

77

90.9%

27

39

14

30

110

145

75.9%

78.1%

Gould, Robbie

75

79

94.9%

35

47

0

2

110

128

85.9%

77.7%

Stover, Matt

99

103

96.1%

39

52

3

6

141

161

87.6%

77.5%

Kaeding, Nate

82

86

95.3%

30

42

6

9

118

137

86.1%

77.5%

Bryant, Matt

71

74

95.9%

28

38

2

10

101

122

82.8%

77.4%

Akers, David

77

84

91.7%

35

51

6

14

118

149

79.2%

77.3%

Suisham, Shaun

42

47

89.4%

22

32

3

7

67

86

77.9%

77.2%

Scobee, Josh

65

73

89.0%

32

46

7

12

104

131

79.4%

76.2%

Graham, Shayne

92

98

93.9%

35

43

5

10

132

151

87.4%

76.2%

Crosby, Mason

38

42

90.5%

14

20

6

11

58

73

79.5%

76.0%

Brown, Kris

71

82

86.6%

36

48

9

15

116

145

80.0%

75.9%

Prater, Matt

15

18

83.3%

6

14

5

6

26

38

68.4%

75.5%

Lindell, Rian

92

98

93.9%

30

44

8

11

130

153

85.0%

72.4%

Reed, Jeff

91

98

92.9%

27

39

4

8

122

145

84.1%

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72.2%

Feely, Jay

87

96

90.6%

28

38

6

9

121

143

84.6%

72.2%

Tynes, Lawrence

64

72

88.9%

22

32

6

11

92

115

80.0%

72.2%

Vinatieri, Adam

89

96

92.7%

28

37

2

7

119

140

85.0%

71.6%

Mare, Olindo

64

75

85.3%

25

31

8

20

97

126

77.0%

71.5%

Dawson, Phil

93

103

90.3%

29

40

6

10

128

153

83.7%

71.2%

Gramatica, Martin

18

22

81.8%

8

17

3

4

29

43

67.4%

71.2%

Carney, John

88

96

91.7%

25

35

4

5

117

136

86.0%

71.0%

Nugent, Mike

55

61

90.2%

17

22

3

9

75

92

81.5%

67.6%

Gostkowski, Stephen

61

68

89.7%

14

20

2

2

77

90

85.6%

66.7%

Rayner, Dave

28

35

80.0%

13

19

1

5

42

59

71.2%

63.3%

Barth, Connor

9

10

90.0%

1

1

0

1

10

12

83.3%

56.1%

Novak, Nick

13

19

68.4%

6

10

0

1

19

30

63.3%

55.6%

Mehlhaff, Taylor

2

3

66.7%

1

1

0

0

3

4

75.0%

Dan Carpenter In his rookie season of 2008, Carpenter crushed the AAA competition and landed way atop the list.

www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 46


17. The K-ball “Just as there is a trend toward high tech today, there is another trend toward high touch - homemade and wholesome.” - Meryl Gardner The Official Game Balls “In 1941, with "Slingin'" Sammy Baugh of the Washington Redskins fast becoming the NFL's first great passing quarterback, Wilson purchased "The Duke" name from rival Spalding. Ever since, Wilson has been the official manufacturer of all NFL footballs. The Duke, also used by the American Football League from 1960 to 1969, received a name change in 1969 when the two leagues merged. It is now simply called the NFL ball. Wilson continued to improve the ball with such innovations as hand-sewn ends, triple lining and lock-stitch seams. In 1951, rubber footballs were tried briefly, and in 1956, the NFL approved the use of easier-to-see white footballs for night games. This evolved into special night footballs with white stripes around each end—banned in 1976 because the paint made the balls slick. In 1955, Wilson developed the TD football, which featured a new Tanned-in-Tack material, also known as Grip-Tite. This material has a tacky feel that makes the ball easier to grip, especially when wet. The exclusive Tanned-in-Tack cowhide leather is supplied by the Horween Leather Co., and has been since 1941. That's right. No pigskin. In 1981, a new Ultra Pebble design for the leather, which further enhanced the grip, was introduced. Inside the ball is a high-tech three-ply polyurethane bladder. Two of the layers are standard polyurethane but the third is a unique material, which is secret. In fact, Wilson's bladder recipe is such a well-kept secret that factory tours in that area of the facility are forbidden. The lacing, once fragile cotton, like shoelaces, is now made of an extruded polyvinyl chloride, which is more durable. The process of fabricating a ball, whether it's for the shelf at Wal-Mart or the next Super Bowl, is surprisingly simple and has remained basically unchanged since 1941. The four panels of the ball are cut cookie-cutter style from a large sheet of leather. The panels are then checked for blemishes and weighed to make sure they meet specifications. Linings for each panel and reinforcements for the bladder opening and valve ring are then added. After the panels are hand-sewn together inside out, the ball is turned through the lace opening using an iron post and a bit of muscle. The bladder is inserted and the ball is double laced by hand. It's then over-inflated to 80 psi so its appearance, stitching and shape can be examined. If it passes inspection, it's stamped "NFL," deflated and delivered.” - from Popular Mechanics article by Scott Oldham, 2001 Behind the Scenes Modifications Prior to 1999, all game balls were sent to a team during the week prior to a game. Equipment managers would then prep the balls, typically by rubbing them down with a brush or towel, and possibly using a little rubbing alcohol to get rid of the slickness. Anything more than that might create issues for the quarterbacks. But some kickers had other ideas in a quest to create the ideal kicking ball. There are numerous stories regarding their methods to try to make the ball softer, a little rounder, with looser seams and an inflated bladder. What did they allegedly do? Soak them in water, lemonade, or evaporated milk. Bake them in an oven, either as is or wrapped in aluminum foil. Nuke them in a microwave. Steam them in a sauna. Run them through clothes dryer cycles. Bath them for several hours in a hot tub. Bash them against hard surfaces. Repeatedly drop heavy weights on them. Over-inflate them for several days, and then deflate them back to regulation pressure prior to the game. Deluxe treatments combined several of the methods, such as over-inflating, followed by rubbing alcohol, then baking them, and finally deflating. In 1994 the league made an attempt to curb the illegal doctoring of balls. They implemented levying a $15,000 fine against the equipment manager of any team caught with a doctored ball. While this may have reduced occurrences of tampering, it did not eliminate the problem. The K-ball Arrives The K-ball rule was implemented in 1999, and ensures that all kicking plays in games will use a brand new ball, rather than one that has been “broken in” or possibly tampered with. They are the same regulation size, shape, and weight as all other balls. From the NFL Rules: The home club shall have 36 balls for outdoor games and 24 for indoor games available for testing with a pressure gauge by the referee two hours prior to the starting time of the game to meet with League requirements. Twelve (12) new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer, will be www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

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opened in the officials’ locker room two hours prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked with the letter "K" and used exclusively for the kicking game. The night before a game, 12 balls marked with a "K" are delivered straight from Wilson Sporting Goods to the officials. Two hours before the game, the officials were to prepare the balls by rubbing them down and brushing them off. They would then check the air pressure and put the balls in a bag until needed for kicking plays in the game. The minimal pre-game preparation often didn’t occur at all, and in 2002 the rule was modified to allow the home teams' equipment personnel 20 minutes to wipe down the balls. More Rule Changes The K-ball rules were modified prior to the 2007 season, primarily as a result of QB/holder Tony Romo’s mishandled snap on a field goal attempt in the 2006 playoffs. The NFL now hired 16 people with officiating backgrounds (all are on the league's candidates list), to serve as K-ball Coordinators. They travel to and from games with that day's crew and that day's footballs. There are 12 K-balls, however the ball coordinator takes only two with him to the sidelines. The rest remain in another area, available if and when they're needed. The balls are marked K-1, K-2, K-3 and so forth, with the K-ball coordinator introducing them in sequence. K-ball No. 1 will be used on the opening kickoff and on every kicking play it's no longer available. Then the No. 2 K-ball will be put into play, and subsequently used on every kicking play until it is no longer available. And so forth. Also changed for 2007 was the pre-game preparation of the balls. The time allotment was increased to 45 minutes and both teams, rather than just the home team, were allowed to do the rub down. During Footballguys’ interviews with various NFL kickers, they discussed the K-ball’s impact: Ryan Longwell “Yea, it’s a huge difference. I always use the example: it’s the equivalent of going out to short stop and having someone hit you ground balls while wearing a broken in baseball glove, and then giving you a brand new glove right of the rack and taking the same ground balls. The leather’s just harder; it’s not as flexible. When you’re kicking something like that, it doesn’t fly as far. A broken in football gets some moisture in the leather, so there’s a little more weight to it, so it can cut through wind and fly a little farther. The K-ball was a big difference. I think that’s why you see, over the seven or eight years it’s been in the league, that a lot more of the teams are going with veteran kickers and proven guys that can hit the ball solid, than a lot more of the young guys with big legs. Because the big leg doesn’t necessarily translate into accuracy with the new K-ball like it did with the old broken in balls.” “We get brand new balls basically every week [in practice]. I don’t think we kick enough to break them in totally over the course of a week. We’ll always use brand new balls. It’s changed probably more for the equipment guys around the league than it has for anybody else, because they’re probably going through a lot more rotatings. It’s just a factor that when I first got in the league it wasn’t there and then they changed it. It’s something you’ve got to deal with.” Joe Nedney “The K-ball has improved over the years, but it varies from ball to ball. Not all leather panels are the same. Some balls are knobbier, more rigid, and just plain hard while others can be smoother, softer and more pliable. The referees give equipment guys about 15 to 20 minutes of supervised time to rub down the 12 K-balls. That translates to a little over a minute per ball. That's nowhere near enough time. A bad K-ball can cost a kicker five yards on field goal distance. The sweet spot on a bad K-ball is much smaller which increases the chance of a miss-hit.” Robbie Gould “The K-balls are brand new balls so they don’t travel as far. If you have a ball that is more worked in, it is going to travel a lot further. The good thing about a new ball is that it doesn’t move quite as much. An older ball that is a little more deflated will move right or left a bit more.”

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Mason Crosby “K-Balls are brand new footballs for each game and are only worked in for 45 minutes before a game. This makes them less forgiving, but you will get a few really nice ones. It all depends on the quality of the ball and how well it is worked in. You don’t get much consistency from ball to ball and I think that is a big reason we use a K-ball.” Jeff Reed “There is definitely a difference. I can’t speak for the NFL, but I have heard stories. I never paid attention to or heard of a K-ball until I got to the NFL. You were able to practice with the balls all week in practice and then use them in games – that is what I did in college. Luckily, our quarterbacks chose the balls in college and they liked the older ones to throw. That benefited me with hang time and distance. It definitely affects it because you never know what you are going to get. For home games, your equipments guys rub the balls down. Our guy knows what we like and what other teams like because I talk to other kickers. When it comes to away games, it is either hit or miss because you get fantastic balls because the kicker and punter know what they are doing and they tell the guys (rubbing the balls) or you get the guys who don’t know what they are doing or they don’t care about the football, and it could be terrible. It can be hit or miss. I think that K-balls definitely affect kickers no matter what anybody says.” Jay Feely “The interesting thing is that you can get a good K-ball or a bad K-ball. A k-ball is not a different ball in anyway than the regular game ball; it’s just a ball that has not been broken in. The balls the quarterbacks use, they’ll take them down, they’ll rub them, they’ll break them in, and use them throughout the week to have them not be so new. The K-balls are brand new right out of the box. You’re not allowed to do anything to them. You’re not allowed to kick them at all before the game. You can get a good new ball, or a bad new ball. The difference between a good new ball and a bad new ball is probably about ten yards on a kickoff or a field goal. If you get a bad ball when you go to kickoff, I’ll even tell our guys on our kickoff team, “Hey it’s a bad ball, be ready for a short kick.” Because I know regardless of how well I kick it, it’s not gonna come down probably any deeper than the ten yard line.” “You can tell when you hold it. You can tell by feeling it, because the seams ridge up. The ends, which are supposed to be round, are kind of square. The difference between a nubby ball and a smooth ball, the nubby balls are bad balls that are not going to go as far. The smooth balls, the way they’re supposed to be, they going to go a lot farther.” Connor Barth “It was definitely an adjustment at first. Kicking in college we used Nike balls and for the most part it was pretty broken in compared to what we kick in the NFL now. When I first started kicking the NFL ball I was struggling getting the ball to the five yard line on kickoffs. Barely kicking 50 yards. But it’s all about finding the sweet spot on that new ball. It takes a couple months. But once I got into a rhythm towards the latter part of my workouts for the draft and then when I got to minicamp, I found out how to kick the NFL ball and where that new sweet spot was. For the most part it’s kind of like kicking in college again, because once you find out where to hit the NFL ball, on what sweet spot, it goes pretty far, especially if you have the wind behind you. In the beginning it was kind of frustrating because I wasn’t hitting the ball very far, but once I got used to it, it was an easy adjustment.”

Rian Lindell and a referee admire a K-ball.

Fantasy Impact The effect of the K-ball on fantasy football can be seen on rookies or players new to the NFL coming from some other league. Many have difficulty adjusting to the ball. The statistics regarding their accuracy and range in college or in another league often have no bearing on how they will perform in the NFL. The K-ball may also lead to a significant drop in their effectiveness on kickoffs. That doesn’t matter during the regular season for fantasy players (unless your fantasy league incorporates kickoffs in its scoring); however it can be a significant factor for kickers competing for a job in the pre-season. www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 49


18. The Kickoff “All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.” - Swami Vivekananda We asked NFL kickers to discuss any technique differences between kicking off and placekicking. Following are their answers: Ryan Longwell “I think they’re both very unique. Field goals are much more precise than kicking off, meaning that you’re probably not going to be as successful swinging 100% at a field goal as you will be swinging at 85% or 90%. It’s very similar to what they say on the golf course; what the pros say about swinging a golf club. Kicking off, however, is basically about how much power you can put into the ball without over-kicking it. So they’re two different things. Like I said, with the new K-balls you’re not seeing the guys who are just pounding the ball eight to ten yards deep. I think that’s why you’re seeing a lot more kickers that are great field goal kickers and good kickoff guys, instead of the kickoff specialists with big legs because there’s just not that big a difference anymore with the K-ball.” Connor Barth “It’s a big adjustment. That’s where a lot of people don’t understand the kicking game as much. There’s a huge difference between kicking off and kicking field goals. Kicking field goals from a body and technique perspective, you want to stay more upright and not crunch as much. That’s going to let your leg extend up and it’s going to give you more height. When you kickoff, you want to almost do a hurdling motion and a crunching motion. You’re pretty much trying to be as aggressive as you can when you hit the ball, but you don’t want to be overly aggressive where you’re out of control. It’s almost like controlled aggression. That’s what I call it when you attack that ball. You hit it really well, but you’re under control and you know what you’re doing and you have good technique. The main thing with kickoffs, when you make contact with the football you want to hurdle through it and land on your actual kicking foot. I’m right footed so when I kickoff, when I hit the ball I land on the same foot that I kick with. It’s like a hurdling motion while I’m crunching. On a field goal you want to skip through the ball. When you plant your foot, you want to skip through that same foot. That keeps your momentum through the ball. If you don’t skip through the ball when kicking a field goal, all your momentum goes into the ground and you lose the distance. You want to make sure you take all your body weight and get it through the ball. The main difference between kicking off and kicking field goals is when you hit the ball, when you make contact, on field goals you’re kind of skipping through, but when you kickoff you’re almost doing a crunch kind of like a hurdle.”

Jay Feely “When you’re kicking a field goal you come down on your plant foot. When you’re kicking off you actually land on your kicking leg, because you want to explode through the ball. When you’re kicking a field goal it’s a controlled movement, where you’re working on consistency. When you’re kicking off, it’s an explosive movement where you’re trying to kick the ball as high and as far as you can.”

Mason Crosby “It’s mainly in the approach. Kickoffs are more steps and the ability to tee the ball up allows for more hang time.”

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Page 50


19. Do Good Offenses Produce High Scoring Kickers? “Bobby Knight told me this: 'There is nothing that a good defense cannot beat a better offense.' In other words a good offense wins.” - Dan Quayle KICKER SCORING RANK COMPARED TO OFFENSIVE SCORING AND YARDAGE RANKS 2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

rnk O-pt O-yd ∆O rnk O-pt O-yd ∆O rnk O-pt O-yd ∆O rnk O-pt O-yd ∆O rnk O-pt O-yd ∆O 1

4

2

(2)

1

2

15

13

1

17

7

(10)

1

4

7

3

1

3

7

4

2

1

1

0

2

1

4

3

2

3

3

0

2

9

5

(4)

2

2

3

1

3

22

21

(1)

3

10

6

(4)

3

4

8

4

3

1

2

1

3

5

9

4

4

2

3

1

4

2

3

1

4

6

1

(5)

3

11

14

3

4

8

20

12

5

11

10

(1)

5

12

17

5

5

8

22

14

5

10

19

9

5

15

16

1

6

9

9

0

6

9

10

1

5

2

5

3

5

8

8

0

5

10

8

(2)

7

18

27

9

7

21

22

1

7

9

16

7

7

5

4

(1)

7

4

4

0

8

16

19

3

8

19

18

(1)

7

11

6

(5)

8

20

31

11

8

9

6

(3)

9

8

8

0

8

24

26

2

9

7

4

(3)

8

7

24

17

9

11

17

6

10

3

5

2

10

8

8

0

10

25

24

(1)

10

3

11

8

9

7

5

(2)

10

5

20

15

10

17

21

4

10

24

29

5

11

2

1

(1)

11

12

18

6

10

18

18

0

10

5

1

(4)

12

5

10

5

11

12

9

(3)

12

13

12

(1)

13

18

15

(3)

13

14

19

5

13

1

2

1

13

18

20

2

12

1

2

1

14

12

14

2

14

4

5

1

14

16

14

(2)

14

17

12

(5)

14

24

29

5

15

21

11

(10) 14

22

9

(13) 15

14

13

(1)

15

14

16

2

14

23

21

(2)

16

9

17

8

16

15

16

1

15

12

19

7

16

27

28

1

16

6

1

(5)

17

7

12

5

16

11

14

3

17

19

25

6

16

24

26

2

16

14

10

(4)

17

25

26

1

18

18

25

7

18

27

28

1

18

13

13

0

18

22

23

1

19

6

7

1

19

7

11

4

19

10

9

(1)

18

6

3

(3)

19

19

22

3

19

14

16

2

20

23

30

7

20

32

26

(6)

18

22

23

1

20

21

15

(6)

21

17

6

(11) 20

6

2

(4)

21

30

32

2

21

15

10

(5)

20

17

24

7

22

24

22

(2)

22

12

7

(5)

21

21

17

(4)

22

26

27

1

22

27

25

(2)

23

29

23

(6)

23

25

12

(13) 23

18

15

(3)

22

16

18

2

23

29

27

(2)

24

26

29

3

23

27

24

(3)

23

20

23

3

24

29

22

(7)

23

26

32

6

24

15

13

(2)

23

29

20

(9)

25

31

20

(11) 25

25

17

(8)

25

25

13

(12)

26

23

25

2

26

16

27

11

26

15

12

(3)

26

19

6

(13) 26

20

30

10

26

28

24

(4)

27

20

13

(7)

27

13

11

(2)

27

21

15

(6)

27

30

19

(11)

28

30

30

0

28

26

23

(3)

28

26

31

5

28

28

29

1

28

28

31

3

29

26

28

2

29

30

31

1

29

22

18

(4)

29

31

30

(1)

28

16

14

(2)

30

12

4

(8)

30

28

28

0

29

29

30

1

30

30

25

(5)

28

18

11

(7)

31

31

31

0

31

31

29

(2)

29

23

21

(2)

30

23

21

(2)

31

31

28

(3)

32

32

32

0

32

32

32

0

32

28

27

(1)

32

32

32

0

32

32

26

(6)

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 51


Top 5 Kickers rnk

O-pt

1-5

40

42%

36

6-10

33

34%

11-15

16

16-20

Top 6-10 Kickers

O-yd

rnk

O-pt

O-yd

38%

1-5

23

25%

26

28%

24

25%

6-10

28

30%

22

24%

17%

12

13%

11-15

21

23%

11

12%

3

3%

9

9%

16-20

13

14%

16

17%

21-25

4

4%

14

15%

21-25

7

8%

12

13%

26-32

0

0%

1

1%

26-32

1

1%

6

6%

The numbers in the lower two tables date back to 1990. They confirm what most of us already suspected. There appears to be a strong correlation between kicker scoring and offensive rankings. 73% of top five kickers came from top ten scoring offenses, while 60% came from top ten yardage offenses.

Shayne Graham From 2004 to 2007, the Cincinnati Bengals were a top ten offense, and they also ranked in the top ten in kicker scoring each year. In 2008 the offense dropped to last st place and kicker scoring dropped to 31 place.

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Page 52


20. Do Poor Red Zone Offenses Produce High Scoring Kickers? “The red zone is for immediate loading and unloading of passengers only. There is no stopping in a white zone.” - male airport PA announcer “No, the white zone is for loading. There is no stopping in the red zone.” - female airport PA announcer “The red zone has always been for loading.” - male announcer “Don't you tell me which zone is for loading and which zone is for unloading.” - female announcer THREE YEAR STUDY OF RED ZONE STATISTICS 2005 K-rnk trips RZ%

TD

FG

2004 nil K-rnk trips RZ%

TD

FG

2003 nil K-rnk trips RZ% TD FG nil

Ari

1

46

51.6% 13

25

8

22

37

61.4% 18

11

8

32

43 55.8% 18

14

11

Atl

15

54

72.5% 31

19

4

22

50

66.9% 27

15

8

26

46 67.1% 24

16

6

Bal

10

42

54.4% 16

16

10

8

40

68.2% 20

17

3

4

50 62.6% 21

24

5

Buf

10

49

53.1% 17

21

11

8

62

60.4% 28

22

12

31

45 60.0% 21

14

10

Car

5

53

72.2% 31

17

5

18

52

72.8% 31

16

5

5

42 60.9% 17

20

5

Chi

28

43

62.5% 20

16

7

32

38

52.3% 16

9

13

14

45 62.2% 22

14

9

Cin

3

62

70.3% 35

20

7

5

55

64.9% 28

18

9

12

47 72.3% 28

14

5

Cle

20

39

50.2% 11

20

8

16

41

63.1% 19

16

6

23

42 60.5% 19

15

8

Dal

26

53

66.6% 28

17

8

25

40

65.4% 21

12

7

20

46 59.3% 20

17

9

Den

9

58

71.4% 35

15

8

2

53

59.8% 24

18

11

5

56 69.1% 31

18

7

Det

32

36

64.3% 18

12

6

16

43

62.1% 19

18

6

23

38 58.3% 17

12

9

GB

29

46

59.9% 22

13

11

7

52

69.2% 30

14

8

7

52 77.7% 34

15

3

Hou

18

37

62.9% 16

17

4

27

44

67.9% 26

9

9

28

34 75.6% 21

11

2

Ind

5

61

71.9% 37

16

8

3

67

72.3% 42

15

10

2

62 68.2% 32

24

6

Jac

15

49

72.3% 29

15

5

24

45

59.4% 19

18

8

25

45 56.8% 20

13

12

KC

4

54

67.7% 28

20

6

11

59

74.3% 40

9

10

12

54 86.5% 42

11

1

Mia

14

52

55.2% 21

18

13

28

38

59.8% 18

11

9

20

43 61.8% 21

13

9

Min

17

51

59.4% 23

17

11

18

58

66.5% 33

13

12

16

55 66.5% 31

13

11

NE

19

58

74.9% 37

15

6

1

63

72.3% 37

20

6

11

50 61.1% 22

20

8

NO

25

42

55.4% 16

17

9

15

47

65.7% 27

9

11

16

40 68.9% 22

13

5

NYG

2

59

61.7% 27

22

10

18

54

60.1% 26

15

13

27

47 50.2% 18

13

16

NYJ

29

43

59.1% 19

15

9

14

43

70.1% 25

12

6

14

40 64.6% 19

16

5

Oak

29

45

61.9% 21

16

8

13

40

65.0% 20

14

6

22

34 58.0% 15

11

8

Phi

23

41

66.2% 22

12

7

5

47

72.0% 30

9

8

9

51 77.0% 32

17

2

Pit

7

56

76.8% 34

21

1

3

61

60.7% 28

21

12

19

44 59.1% 20

14

10

SD

12

50

80.3% 35

12

3

10

63

78.7% 44

13

6

28

46 57.1% 22

10

14

Sea

13

60

79.5% 43

11

6

11

53

72.2% 31

17

5

9

50 74.0% 31

14

5

SF

21

28

63.8% 11

16

1

30

41

62.4% 20

13

8

8

62 58.5% 29

17

16

Stl

7

51

63.0% 24

19

8

26

42

67.0% 23

12

7

1

68 67.0% 34

27

7

TB

23

39

66.7% 20

14

5

30

40

64.3% 21

11

8

28

40 67.9% 22

12

6

Ten

21

46

60.9% 22

14

10

21

45

66.0% 25

11

9

3

60 66.9% 32

19

9

Was

27

47

72.9% 30

10

7

29

44

67.9% 23

16

5

18

45 67.6% 24

15

6

www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 53


Top 5 Kickers Quan

RZ%

Top 6-10 Kickers Quan

RZ%

0

75%+

5

75%+

7

70-74.9%

2

70-74.9%

9

65-69.9%

5

65-69.9%

5

60-64.9%

3

60-64.9%

2

55-59.9%

1

55-59.9%

1

54.9%-

2

54.9%-

A common assumption is that poor red zone offenses are good sources for kicker scoring, since the team would be scoring more field goals than touchdowns. The numbers do not support that. More top ten kickers tend to come from average to slightly above average red zone teams.

Dallas Cowboys kicker Nick Folk attempts a field goal over the outstretched arms of the Philadelphia Eagles defenders.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 54


21. Do Good Defenses Produce High Scoring Kickers? “I always root for the defense.” - Wellington Mara KICKER SCORING RANK COMPARED TO DEFENSIVE SCORING AND YARDAGE RANKS rnk

2007 D-pt D-yd ∆D

rnk

2006 D-pt D-yd ∆D

rnk

2005 D-pt D-yd ∆D

rnk

2004 D-pt D-yd ∆D

rnk

2003 D-pt D-yd ∆D

1

6

11

5

1

3

5

2

1

26

8

(18)

1

2

9

7

1

17

17

0

2

4

4

0

2

7

10

3

2

14

24

10

2

10

4

(6)

2

20

10

(10)

3

8

5

(3)

3

28

23

(5)

3

22

28

6

3

19

29

10

3

13

13

0

4

13

9

(4)

4

23

21

(2)

4

16

25

9

3

1

1

0

4

6

4

(2)

5

24

27

3

5

1

1

0

5

5

3

(2)

5

21

19

(2)

5

10

8

(2)

6

6

15

9

6

4

2

(2)

5

2

11

9

5

3

10

7

5

9

3

(6)

7

16

28

12

7

28

30

2

7

3

4

1

7

23

25

2

7

11

16

5

8

32

32

0

8

29

29

0

7

31

30

(1)

8

6

6

0

8

21

15

(6)

9

21

30

9

8

32

26

(6)

9

4

15

11

8

8

2

(6)

9

7

22

15

10

1

3

2

10

17

30

13

10

10

5

(5)

10

11

18

7

9

16

19

3

10

5

14

9

10

8

14

6

10

24

29

5

11

29

31

2

11

1

7

6

10

3

2

(1)

10

13

11

(2)

12

13

13

0

11

22

26

4

12

28

28

0

13

11

8

(3)

13

19

19

0

13

7

16

9

13

31

30

(1)

12

19

29

10

14

22

24

2

14

20

13

(7)

14

15

18

3

14

4

7

3

14

22

12

(10)

15

28

19

(9)

14

25

12

(13) 15

18

22

4

15

28

32

4

14

8

20

12

16

2

1

(1)

16

11

16

5

15

6

6

0

16

24

15

(9)

16

23

25

2

17

27

17

(10) 16

24

25

1

17

19

21

2

16

18

22

4

16

14

18

4

17

19

18

(1)

18

6

20

14

18

32

31

(1)

18

16

20

4

18

24

23

(1)

19

10

12

2

19

2

6

4

19

17

26

9

18

26

28

2

19

15

9

(6)

19

17

7

(10) 20

10

18

8

20

11

17

6

18

17

13

(4)

20

2

1

(1)

21

9

10

20

15

15

0

21

30

32

2

21

30

27

(3)

20

3

11

8

22

22

6

(16) 22

11

9

(2)

21

29

19

(10) 22

12

12

0

22

26

30

4

23

29

29

0

23

15

22

7

23

27

23

(4)

22

14

14

0

23

12

14

2

24

15

16

1

23

8

7

(1)

23

8

1

(7)

24

7

11

4

23

25

21

(4)

24

12

20

8

23

5

4

(1)

25

28

14

(14) 25

27

16

(11)

25

18

6

(12)

26

26

22

(4)

26

31

32

1

26

12

10

(2)

26

25

17

(8)

26

30

32

2

26

31

21

(10) 27

27

31

4

27

9

9

0

27

15

23

8

27

29

26

(3)

28

18

31

13

28

14

8

(6)

28

1

2

1

28

20

8

(12)

28

27

31

4

29

30

23

(7)

29

22

27

5

29

20

7

(13) 29

5

3

(2)

28

31

27

(4)

30

25

26

1

30

25

24

(1)

29

23

12

(11) 30

32

24

(8)

28

4

5

1

31

14

13

(1)

31

21

17

(4)

29

25

27

2

30

9

5

(4)

31

5

2

(3)

32

20

25

5

32

18

3

(15) 32

21

20

(1)

32

13

21

8

32

32

24

(8)

1

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 55


Top 5 Kickers rnk

D-pt

1-5

28

29%

27

6-10

22

23%

11-15

20

16-20

Top 6-10 Kickers

D-yd

rnk

D-pt

D-yd

28%

1-5

20

21%

19

20%

22

23%

6-10

20

21%

15

16%

21%

19

20%

11-15

14

15%

19

20%

13

13%

7

7%

16-20

12

13%

14

15%

21-25

9

9%

12

12%

21-25

16

17%

11

12%

26-32

5

5%

10

10%

26-32

12

13%

16

17%

The numbers in the lower two tables date back to 1990. There appears to be a slight correlation between kicker scoring and defensive rankings. 50% of top five kickers came from top ten scoring defenses, while 49% came from top ten yardage defenses.

Jeff Reed (being held aloft) In 2007 and 20087, the Pittsburgh Steelers had the top ranked defense, th th however they only ranked 16 and 18 in kicker scoring.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 56


22. Do Personnel Changes Impact Kicker Scoring? "Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely." - Karen Kaiser Clark A common assumption is that a team is more likely to succeed if there is continuity in their players and personnel from one year to the next. Does that also apply to kicker scoring? The following table looks at turnover since 1990 for three key positions: the kicker himself, the head coach, and the quarterback. The “total” column is the yearly turnover percentage for the entire NFL during that span at that position. The last two columns are the turnover for teams that end up in the top ten in kicker scoring in that year. In all cases, the turnover in teams that ended up in the top ten in kicker scoring was less than the NFL average. That is even truer for teams that ended up in the top five. total

top 5 K

top 6-10 K

K

24.4%

16.5%

17.2%

HC

22.8%

10.3%

17.2%

QB

38.2%

21.6%

22.6%

There are two other important personnel changes to watch which relate to kickers. The first involves the two other players that are most directly involved in placekicking: the longsnapper and the holder. These two along with the kicker need to develop a precise rhythm for the snapping-holding-kicking process. That development can take weeks, more likely months, and possibly even years to reach full effect. When one or more of those three players changes, the learning process starts over. It’s not unheard of for the decline in numbers by a normally reliable and productive kicker to be partially or significantly attributed to working with a new holder. The other important change of personnel to watch is the entire offensive line. Much like the three players involved on a kick, the five players on the offensive line need time working together to develop into a cohesive effective unit. If they haven’t then the entire offense can be hindered, which in turn limits scoring opportunities for the kicker. A top five kicker from the previous year could look like he would be strong bet to repeat that performance. If his team’s offensive is breaking in a new rookie or two, and/or a new free agent or two, and/or shifting players within the line to a different position, then the repeat performance may be highly unlikely. The impact of the last two personnel change categories are fairly simple and straight forward, however they are often overlooked factors. Paying attention to these changes during the off-season, pre-season, and during the regular season if they occur, can help identify kickers that are more likely to under-perform.

Ryan Plackemeier and Shaun Suisham With a new holder in 2008, the Washington Redskins’ field goal accuracy declined.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 57


23. Domes vs. Outdoor Stadiums “The sky's the limit if you have a roof over your head.” - Sol Hurok During discussions on drafting kickers, someone usually suggests to draft a kicker from a team with a domed stadium. Sounds reasonable. At least half their games will be indoors, without interference from Mother Nature. Do kickers actually perform better indoors, or is it just a kickers' wives' tale? DOMES vs. OUTDOORS vs. RETRACTABLE ROOF STADIUMS FG Total avg

FG 1-19

FG 20-29

Stadium

md

att

md att md

Dome visitors

563

683 82.4%

6

6

Dome Home

598

712 84.0%

9

9

Dome total

att

FG 30-39 md

att

FG 40-49 md

att

FG 50+

POINTS

md att XPm XPa

Total

ppg

180 186 160 180 164 219

53

91

862

866

2551

6.9

199 202 180 206 161 218

49

76

915

925

2709

7.3

1161 1395 83.2% 15

15 379 388 340 386 325 437 102 167 1777 1791

5260

7.1

Outdoors visitors

2245 2824 79.5% 33

33 753 794 720 850 611 894 127 250 3101 3142

9836

6.2

Outdoors home

2427 3041 79.8% 37

38 831 871 800 943 633 928 126 258 3695 3748 10976

7.0

Outdoors total

4672 5865 79.7% 70

71 1584 1665 1520 1793 1244 1822 253 508 6796 6890 20812

6.6

Retractable visitors

151

178 84.8%

3

3

55

55

43

51

36

51

14

18

199

199

652

7.3

Retractable home

126

151 83.4%

3

4

34

35

41

45

38

44

10

23

221

221

599

6.7

Retractable total

277

329 84.2%

6

7

89

90

84

96

74

95

24

41

420

420

1251

7.0

The numbers support the assumption. Both field goal percentage and points-per-game were higher in domes during the eight year span from 2001 to 2008. What if the numbers are skewed because some of the better kickers (e.g. Vanderjagt & Wilkins) happened to kick in domes during that time? If we look just at the visitors, which provide a broader spectrum of kickers, they also have better numbers in the domes. The retractable roof numbers are limited since only the Texans’, Cardinals’, and Colts’ stadiums fell into that category for a portion of the time. The Cowboys’ new stadium will also start adding to that category.

Metrodome, Minnesota www.footballguys.com

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Page 58


ANNUAL TEAM KICKER SCORING RANKINGS (w/ DOME TEAMS SHADED IN GRAY) Ari Atl Bal Buf Car Chi Cin Cle Dal Den Det GB Hou Ind Jac KC Mia Min NE NO NYG NYJ Oak Phi Pit SD Sea SF Stl TB Ten Was

‘08

‘07

‘06

6 11 12 5 15 31 22 26 19 30 7

23 22 28 24 7 5 9 4 15 8 1

23 5 20 23 1 10 29 14 10 7 14

29 32 23 7 2 15 1 20 28 3 18 7 26 14 21 4 7 23

10 19 31 29 24 2 30 19 17 26 21 16 10 6 32 26 10 3 13

4 6 16 23 28 19 10 16 18 32 20 22 2 13 8 3 31 26 27

‘05 1 15 10 10 5 28 3 20 26 9 32 29

‘04 22 22 8 8 18 32 5 16 25 2 16 7

‘03 32 26 4 31 5 14 12 23 20 5 23 7

‘02 29 1 22 12 29 23 28 20 32 9 20 4

‘01 21 7 7 29 25 13 30 21 26 3 27 15

‘00 28 21 1 12 5 26 31 30 18 2 19 2

‘99 27 29 8 13 6 30 28 31 23 8 17 12

‘98 13 8 25 2 21 24 28

‘97 26 16 13 20 22 27 28

‘96 18 19 25 17 1 21 13

‘95 15 4 13 6 19 10 8

‘94 22 17 7 7

‘93 18 10 22 15

22 9

17 21

5 5 11 4

3 1 7 5

5 14 30 11

5 2 2 17

6 3 18 14

2 7 2 4

5 15 4 14 17 19

3 24 11 28 18 1 15 18 14 13 5 3 10 11 30 26 30 21 29

2 25 12 20 16 11 16 27 14 22 9 19 28 9 8 1 28 3 18

19 25 7 13 15 10 3 16 17 4 2 8 26 17 10 24 4 14 27

2 28 14 20 31 11 11 19 15 6 7 3 5 24 17 1 10 23 18

6 17 23 10 11 15 15 25 19 8 6 14 27 22 24 12 4 8 28

1 4 13 2 21 16 25 21 13 7 26 20 10 3 24 5 17 17 10

14 12 10 17 1 7 23 20 8 27 30 16 19 18 15 26 21 3 29

7 1 11 7 24 10 22 20 5 29 19 15 16 18 4 14 30 11 25

2 9 27 26 20 5 28 22 29 15 10 16 7 12 4 23 23 3 7

20 26 18 9 7 23 26 25 30 21 22 1 24 15 14

25

20

11 10 2 4 5 18 24 15 16 13 1 25 11 27 21 28 20

13 11 15 23 8 13 23 1 25 9 6 19 12 28 26 5 27

2 29 29 23 7 12 13 21 7 23 21 27

28 10 10

What does the slightly higher field goal accuracy and points per game inside domes translate into in the fantasy world? The average year end fantasy rank for kickers with a home dome is 14.7, while outdoor kickers average a 15.5 ranking. The Texans, Cardinals, and Colts retractable dome seasons were omitted, as were any instances where a team split its home games between two stadium types within one year.

Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis (retractable) www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 59


24. Weather Report â&#x20AC;&#x153;Climate is what we expect, weather is what we get.â&#x20AC;? - Mark Twain A Conversation About Weather Weather is probably the one and only universal topic that can enter any conversation. It can be the main topic or a sub-topic. And of course, as a last resort, it can be the topic when there is no actual conversation. Relative to fantasy football, weather potentially impacts the performance of teams and the individual players. Weather comes in many shapes and sizes, each with varied results. Poor weather can be conducive to a sloppy defensive battle. Field conditions may lead an offense to alter their play calling. Strong winds can deter deep passes and long kicks. Heavy rain can create a challenge for any players that handle the ball. While the specific ways in which weather can hinder players is certainly important, it is not the thrust of this particular conversation. The primary question of this section is where and when does weather typically strike? The simple answer that often quickly surfaces is in the north in December. Is the answer truly that simple? Northern cities and December obviously do not have a monopoly on inclement weather, but are they the only ones with a high enough probability of bad weather to merit the concern of fantasy owners? The tables on the following pages show weather data in three key categories: temperature, precipitation and wind. The monthly averages, September through December, are NOAA Virtual Weather Map based on years of accumulated data. Numbers were compiled from Weather.com and the NOAA National Data Center. Values towards the extremes are highlighted. Weather data is shown for all NFL cities, including those that presently have domed stadiums. The indoor venue locations are included 1) in the interest of thoroughness, 2) for anyone doing tailgating research, and 3) for those rare occasions when there are structural problems with the stadium roof and the team has to temporarily play games at the outdoor stadium of a nearby university.

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 60


TEMPERATURE

PRECIPITATION

WIND

Avg. Days Mean Avg. Days Avg. Avg. Avg. Wind Wind High above Record High Temp. Low below Record low Precip. Snow Precip. Speed Speed (°F) 90°F (°F) (°F) 32°F (inches) (inches) Days Avg. Max.

Arizona Cardinals Sep

99

28

116°F (1950)

87

75

0

47°F (1965)

0.75

0.0

2

6.3

39

Oct

88

15

107°F (1980)

75

63

0

34°F (1971)

0.79

trace

2

5.8

37

Nov

75

15

96°F (1924)

63

50

0

27°F (1931)

0.73

0.0

2

5.3

31

Dec

70

0

87°F (1950)

56

44

1

22°F (1911)

0.92

trace

3

5.1

39

Atlanta Falcons Sep

82

3

102°F (1925)

73

64

0

36°F (1967)

4.09

0.0

7

8.1

41

Oct

73

0

95°F (1954)

63

53

0

28°F (1976)

3.11

trace

6

8.5

35

Nov

63

0

84°F (1961)

53

44

4

3°F (1950)

4.10

trace

8

9.1

39

Dec

55

0

79°F (1991)

45

36

12

0°F (1983)

3.82

0.2

10

9.8

37

Baltimore Ravens Sep

81

3

102°F (1998)

72

64

0

40°F (1974)

4.06

0.0

7

7.6

40

Oct

70

3

97°F (1941)

61

52

2

30°F (1974)

3.19

trace

7

7.9

73

Nov

59

0

87°F (1950)

50

42

11

12°F (1929)

3.45

1.0

8

8.6

58

Dec

49

0

85°F (1998)

41

33

21

-2°F (1917)

3.69

3.3

9

8.8

57

Buffalo Bills Sep

70

1

98°F (1953)

62

53

0

32°F (1991)

3.84

trace

11

10.2

59

Oct

59

0

92°F (1927)

51

43

3

20°F (1965)

3.19

0.7

11

11.1

63

Nov

47

0

80°F (1961)

40

34

14

2°F (1875)

3.92

10.9

15

12.5

66

Dec

36

0

74°F (1982)

30

24

25

-10°F (1980)

3.80

24.4

19

13.1

60

Sep

82

4

104°F (1954)

73

63

0

38°F (1888)

3.83

0.0

7

6.6

20

Oct

73

4

98°F (1954)

62

51

1

24°F (1962)

3.66

trace

6

6.7

30

Nov

63

0

85°F (1961)

52

42

6

11°F (1950)

3.36

0.1

7

6.9

30

Dec

54

0

80°F (2007)

44

35

16

-5°F (1880)

3.18

0.5

9

7.3

38

Sep

76

2

99°F (1953)

67

57

0

37°F (1974)

3.21

trace

8

8.9

58

Oct

64

2

92°F (1971)

55

46

5

24°F (1981)

2.71

0.4

9

10.0

48

Nov

49

0

80°F (1950)

42

35

16

0°F (1950)

3.32

2.1

10

11.1

30

Dec

37

0

69°F (1982)

30

24

26

-20°F (1983)

2.63

8.6

11

11.0

46

7

7.4

36

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cincinnati Bengals Sep

79

2

101°F (1954)

68

58

Oct

67

0

92°F (1951)

57

Nov

54

0

83°F (1950)

45

Dec

43

0

75°F (1982)

35

0

32°F (1942)

3.04

0.0

46

3

20°F (1925)

2.80

0.3

8

8.1

48

37

13

1°F (1929)

3.49

2.0

10

9.7

43

27

22

-13°F (1917)

3.02

3.8

12

10.0

40

Cleveland Browns Sep

72

1

101°F (1953)

63

54

0

32°F (1942)

3.77

trace

9

8.9

41

Oct

61

0

90°F (1946)

52

44

2

19°F (1988)

2.74

0.6

11

9.9

46

Nov

49

0

82°F (1950)

42

35

12

3°F (1976)

3.38

5.1

14

11.7

47

Dec

37

0

77°F (1982)

31

25

24

-15°F (1989)

3.14

12.6

16

12.0

53

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 61


TEMPERATURE

PRECIPITATION

WIND

Avg. Days Mean Avg. Days Avg. Avg. Avg. Wind Wind High above Record High Temp. Low below Record low Precip. Snow Precip. Speed Speed (°F) 90°F (°F) (°F) 32°F (inches) (inches) Days Avg. Max.

Dallas Cowboys Sep

89

14

110°F (2000)

79

69

0

43°F (1983)

2.65

0.0

6

9.3

53

Oct

79

3

100°F (1979)

68

58

0

27°F (1993)

4.65

trace

6

9.7

10

Nov

66

0

89°F (1989)

56

47

3

17°F (1950)

2.61

0.1

6

10.7

20

Dec

57

0

89°F (1955)

48

39

10

1°F (1989)

2.53

0.2

6

10.8

53

Sep

79

2

100°F (1990)

61

44

0

14°F (1985)

1.16

1.6

6

8.0

10

Oct

68

0

94°F (1991)

50

33

8

2°F (1993)

1.32

3.8

5

7.8

20

Nov

54

0

84°F (1990)

38

23

24

-5°F (1993)

1.18

8.8

5

8.3

52

Dec

48

0

75°F (1998)

32

17

29

-24°F (1990)

0.86

7.9

5

8.4

54

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions Sep

75

1

100°F (1953)

66

56

0

33°F (2000)

3.27

trace

9

8.4

35

Oct

62

1

92°F (1963)

54

45

4

24°F (1988)

2.23

0.2

9

9.7

47

Nov

49

0

81°F (1950)

43

36

16

5°F (1958)

2.66

2.5

11

11.0

47

Dec

38

0

68°F (1982)

32

25

26

-5°F (1983)

2.51

10.2

13

11.3

49

Green Bay Packers Sep

70

1

97°F (1931)

59

48

0

24°F (1949)

3.11

trace

9

8.9

39

Oct

58

0

88°F (1963)

47

37

8

12°F (1925)

2.17

0.2

9

9.8

36

Nov

42

0

74°F (1999)

34

26

21

-9°F (1976)

2.27

4.3

9

10.7

10

Dec

29

0

64°F (2001)

21

13

29

-27°F (1983)

1.41

11.4

10

10.3

39

Houston Texans Sep

89

16

101°F (1956)

81

72

0

50°F (1967)

5.62

0.0

8

6.5

10

Oct

82

3

96°F (1962)

72

62

0

33°F (1993)

5.26

0.0

7

6.9

10

Nov

73

0

90°F (1973)

63

53

1

25°F (1976)

4.54

trace

8

7.6

37

Dec

65

0

84°F (1975)

56

47

5

9°F (1989)

3.78

0.0

9

7.7

20

Sep

76

1

100°F (1954)

66

55

0

30°F (1995)

2.56

0.0

7

7.9

46

Oct

65

0

90°F (1954)

54

43

4

20°F (1981)

2.85

0.2

8

8.9

44

Nov

51

0

82°F (1986)

42

34

14

0°F (1958)

3.66

1.9

10

10.5

30

Dec

39

0

73°F (1982)

31

23

24

-20°F (1989)

2.78

5.5

11

10.5

41

Sep

86

10

99°F (1925)

79

71

0

48°F (1967)

7.28

0.0

13

7.5

40

Oct

79

1

96°F (1941)

71

63

0

33°F (1989)

3.30

0.0

8

7.7

31

Nov

72

0

91°F (1931)

63

55

0

22°F (1959)

2.35

0.0

6

7.6

38

Dec

65

0

88°F (1913)

56

47

4

13°F (1962)

2.45

trace

7

7.6

40

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs Sep

80

4

106°F (2000)

71

61

0

34°F (1989)

4.17

trace

8

9.5

41

Oct

69

4

97°F (1963)

59

49

2

21°F (1972)

3.28

0.1

7

10.5

40

Nov

53

0

82°F (1980)

45

36

13

7°F (1991)

2.30

1.3

7

11.2

37

Dec

42

0

73°F (1982)

34

25

26

-19°F (1989)

1.45

4.5

7

10.9

40

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 62


TEMPERATURE

PRECIPITATION

WIND

Avg. Days Mean Avg. Days Avg. Avg. Avg. Wind Wind High above Record High Temp. Low below Record low Precip. Snow Precip. Speed Speed (°F) 90°F (°F) (°F) 32°F (inches) (inches) Days Avg. Max.

Miami Dolphins Sep

89

10

97°F (1987)

82

76

0

62°F (1903)

8.38

0.0

17

8.2

69

Oct

85

2

95°F (1980)

79

72

0

51°F (1943)

6.19

0.0

13

9.2

50

Nov

81

0

91°F (2002)

74

68

0

36°F (1914)

3.43

0.0

8

9.7

38

Dec

78

0

89°F (1902)

70

62

0

30°F (1989)

2.18

0.0

6

9.1

38

Sep

71

1

104°F (1931)

61

51

0

26°F (1974)

2.69

trace

9

10.0

39

Oct

58

0

90°F (1997)

49

39

7

10°F (1925)

2.11

0.5

8

10.6

43

Nov

40

0

77°F (1999)

33

25

22

-25°F (1875)

1.94

7.6

8

11.0

41

Dec

26

0

68°F (1998)

19

11

29

-39°F (1879)

1.00

9.6

9

10.4

39

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots Sep

73

1

97°F (1983)

62

52

0

30°F (2000)

3.78

0.0

8

11.2

47

Oct

62

0

87°F (2007)

51

41

0

20°F (1974)

3.98

trace

9

11.8

47

Nov

51

0

78°F (1982)

42

33

7

4°F (1989)

4.29

1.3

10

12.5

10

Dec

41

0

76°F (1998)

32

23

21

-14°F (1980)

4.19

8.2

11

13.3

51

New Orleans Saints Sep

87

10

101°F (1980)

79

71

0

42°F (1967)

5.55

0.0

9

7.3

40

Oct

80

1

94°F (1998)

70

60

0

35°F (1993)

3.05

0.0

6

7.6

10

Nov

71

0

89°F (1936)

61

52

1

24°F (1970)

5.09

trace

7

8.7

10

Dec

65

0

84°F (1995)

55

46

3

11°F (1989)

5.07

0.1

9

9.0

46

New York Giants and Jets Sep

74

1

99°F (1953)

66

58

0

38°F (1980)

4.05

trace

8

9.0

20

Oct

63

0

85°F (1954)

55

47

0

27°F (1988)

3.50

trace

8

9.4

48

Nov

52

0

81°F (1974)

45

38

5

14°F (1955)

4.00

0.6

9

10.2

30

Dec

42

0

70°F (1982)

35

28

18

0°F (1989)

3.86

5.8

10

10.8

55

Sep

75

1

109°F (1971)

66

58

0

48°F (1986)

0.33

0.0

1

11.1

39

Oct

72

1

103°F (1980)

64

55

0

43°F (2007)

1.33

0.0

3

9.4

45

Nov

64

0

84°F (1997)

57

49

0

36°F (1975)

3.14

0.0

7

7.5

51

Dec

58

0

75°F (1979)

51

45

1

26°F (1972)

3.23

0.0

10

7.1

54

Sep

77

2

102°F (1881)

69

61

0

35°F (1963)

3.88

0.0

8

8.3

49

Oct

66

0

96°F (1941)

57

49

1

25°F (1969)

2.75

trace

7

8.8

66

Nov

55

0

84°F (1950)

47

40

8

8°F (1875)

3.16

0.7

9

9.6

60

Dec

44

0

73°F (1998)

37

31

20

-5°F (1880)

3.31

3.4

10

10.0

48

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers Sep

76

1

92°F (2002)

64

53

0

35°F (1991)

3.13

trace

9

7.3

38

Oct

64

0

88°F (2007)

53

41

3

22°F (1988)

2.35

0.4

10

8.3

39

Nov

53

0

79°F (2004)

43

33

13

13°F (1991)

3.05

3.4

12

9.5

45

Dec

42

0

74°F (2006)

33

25

24

2°F (1988)

2.86

8.3

15

10.1

48

www.footballguys.com

The Complete Guide to Kickology III

Page 63


TEMPERATURE

PRECIPITATION

WIND

Avg. Days Mean Avg. Days Avg. Avg. Avg. Wind Wind High above Record High Temp. Low below Record low Precip. Snow Precip. Speed Speed (°F) 90°F (°F) (°F) 32°F (inches) (inches) Days Avg. Max.

San Diego Chargers Sep

77

1

111°F (1963)

72

66

0

51°F (1948)

0.21

0.0

1

7.1

31

Oct

74

1

107°F (1961)

68

61

0

43°F (1971)

0.44

0.0

2

6.5

31

Nov

70

1

97°F (1976)

62

54

0

38°F (1964)

1.07

trace

4

5.9

51

Dec

66

0

88°F (1963)

58

49

0

34°F (1987)

1.31

trace

6

5.6

46

Sep

70

1

91°F (1988)

61

53

0

41°F (1985)

1.61

0.0

8

8.0

20

Oct

60

0

82°F (1991)

53

46

0

31°F (1991)

3.24

trace

13

8.3

38

Nov

52

0

71°F (1980)

46

40

3

13°F (1985)

5.67

0.7

17

9.0

66

Dec

47

0

65°F (1980)

41

36

8

12°F (1983)

6.06

2.2

18

9.6

49

Seattle Seahawks

San Francisco 49ers Sep

71

1

101°F (1971)

64

56

0

48°F (1955)

0.28

0.0

1

11.1

39

Oct

70

1

102°F (1987)

63

55

0

45°F (1949)

1.19

0.0

3

9.4

45

Nov

64

0

86°F (1966)

58

51

0

40°F (1994)

3.31

0.0

7

7.5

51

Dec

59

0

76°F (1958)

53

47

1

28°F (1990)

3.18

0.0

10

7.1

54

St. Louis Rams Sep

81

4

99°F (1990)

71

61

0

35°F (1969)

2.69

0.0

7

8.2

41

Oct

69

4

94°F (2006)

59

49

1

28°F (1987)

2.81

trace

8

8.9

52

Nov

54

0

83°F (2003)

46

38

10

7°F (1976)

4.06

1.4

9

10.2

41

Dec

42

0

78°F (1970)

35

27

22

-17°F (1989)

2.56

4.1

9

10.3

39

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sep

89

15

96°F (1991)

82

74

0

57°F (1981)

6.54

0.0

12

7.6

30

Oct

84

2

95°F (1941)

76

68

0

40°F (1964)

2.29

0.0

6

8.3

10

Nov

78

3

90°F (2006)

69

61

0

23°F (1970)

1.62

0.0

5

8.2

10

Dec

72

0

86°F (1994)

63

55

1

18°F (1962)

2.30

trace

6

8.3

45

Sep

82

5

105°F (1954)

71

61

0

36°F (1983)

3.59

0.0

7

6.5

30

Oct

71

5

94°F (1953)

60

49

0

26°F (1987)

2.87

0.0

7

6.8

35

Nov

59

0

85°F (1935)

49

40

8

-1°F (1950)

4.45

0.4

9

8.4

39

Dec

49

0

79°F (1982)

41

32

17

-10°F (1989)

4.54

1.4

11

8.9

41

Sep

79

3

104°F (1881)

71

62

0

36°F (1904)

3.79

0.0

7

8.3

20

Oct

68

3

96°F (1941)

59

50

0

26°F (1917)

3.22

0.0

7

8.7

39

Nov

57

0

86°F (1974)

49

40

4

11°F (1929)

3.03

0.8

8

9.4

43

Dec

47

0

79°F (1998)

39

32

16

-13°F (1880)

3.05

3.0

9

9.6

40

Tennessee Titans

Washington Redskins

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The Complete Guide to Kickology III

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Assorted observations, confirmations and thoughts based on the historical weather data shown on the preceding pages: 1. It’s hot in the desert. There’s a decent chance on any given day, even into November, that temperatures will climb into the 90’s in Phoenix. 2. Also not surprisingly, it’s warm in September in the south, i.e. Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. 3. Many cities experience frequent cold temperatures in December. Colder temperatures tend to arrive a little earlier (November) in Denver, Green Bay, and Minnesota. 4. Where is it wet during the first half of the season? Houston and Miami. Tampa and Jacksonville get honorable mentions in September. 5. Where is it wet during the Second half of the season? New Orleans, Seattle and Tennessee. 6. The Lake Effect: snow can be found in December in any of the cities in range of the Great Lakes. Being located a mile up in the Rockies also seems to be effective for bringing snow. 7. Brutal cold may be more poetic, rain and snow may paint a more vivid picture, but wind can be equally if not more artistic. Chicago is nicknamed accordingly. The other Lake cities are also breezy during the second half of the season. The wind also picks up in November and December in the scattered locations of Dallas, Kansas City, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and the swamplands of New Jersey.

Weather comes in many shapes and sizes

8. Both sides of the Bay (San Francisco and Oakland) are breezy in September. 9. It can be windy throughout the entire football season in Minnesota, Buffalo, and New England. 10. Intrastate rivalries: Pittsburgh’s weather is a little worse than Philadelphia’s, and Cleveland’s weather is a little worse than Cincinnati’s. 11. While a few other cities may come to mind as the worst weather locations, the numbers give the honors to Buffalo. It’s got it all: cold, rain, snow, wind, and then more snow.

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Page 65


25. Kickers vs. Mother Nature “Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” - John Ruskin We asked NFL kickers to discuss any technique differences between kicking in different adverse weather conditions. Following are their answers: Ryan Longwell “You’ve just got to hit the ball solid, whether it’s wind or rain or snow or a perfect day. You gotta hit the ball solid and you’ve got to start it on the line you’re aiming at. Whether that’s in Lambeau or in the Metrodome it really doesn’t differ. It’s just a lot less elements to factor in when you’re kicking in a covered stadium.” “Bitter cold is more mental than anything else. You just have to understand that the ball is not gonna fly. That same field goal that’ll fly 55 or 60 yards in August is probably going about 40 yards in December. You have to realize that the ball is going to be hard and it’s not going to fly very far.” Jay Feely “In rain you have to slow down your approach a little bit, because of the time for the snapper and the holder to get a good snap and to catch it and put it down. Other than that you don’t kick it any differently. With wind you definitely do. You have to pick a spot maybe out wider because the wind is blowing across. If it’s in your face you’ve got to kick the ball a little lower, with a lower trajectory so that it doesn’t get up in the wind, to just die in the wind. There’s a lot of different things you have to do.” Joe Nedney “All adjustments to the elements are made during the pre-game warm-up. Wind direction and intensity will alter the flight of the ball, and it's the responsibility of the kicker to figure all that out before game time so he can do his job successfully during the game. Rain usually affects the snapper and holder more because they are handling the ball. Field conditions vary in wet or cold weather and footing can be challenging. Again, this should be handled during pre-game.” Robbie Gould “When kicking in the rain, you have to be aware of your plant foot. With the wind you have to judge it and play the ball according to how far the wind may pull the ball left or right. In bitter cold, you just have to hit a low-ball when you are further out.” Mason Crosby “The adjustments are all slight. I may change plant shoe cleats to longer ones for rain. It all depends on the field. In windy conditions the main thing is to not over play the wind or over think it. Inside 40 yards, most winds will not affect the ball an extreme amount. Bitter cold is mainly controlling and containing body warmth and staying loose on the sidelines. It is all about focus in the cold and making sure you do not over swing trying to get more power.” Jeff Reed “Whether it is windy or raining, the ball is not going to travel as far in cold weather. Depending on your strategy going into the game as far as kickoffs go, you can either drive the ball if you are looking for a deeper kick, although that won’t have as much of a hang time, or use your normal kick and the guys know that your deep kick is going to be right around the eight-to-ten-yard line. As far as the wind, it is windy everywhere, whether it is Florida or Pennsylvania. You have to adjust. If you are a teacher and you are teaching a young kid to kick, you would say ‘don’t play the wind – use your fundamentals.’ When you get older, you have to realize that sometimes when the uprights are moving, if you don’t aim a little right or left depending on the wind conditions, you won’t make it. As far as field goals, you don’t necessarily have to change the way you kick in the cold, but when the field gets soggy, I take shorter steps so that I don’t slip.”

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Connor Barth When it’s raining out, although the only game it really rained at was our preseason game against Arizona, our head coach (Coach Edwards last year) would come up to me before the game and during the game and ask me where I feel comfortable from. When you go out on the field the conditions completely change and the fields a lot softer, especially on grass. If you look at other teams, a lot of places like New England or Cincinnati where there’s FieldTurf, it doesn’t really matter as much because the footing is pretty much the same. But when you get on grass, like Kansas City, it gets a lot softer and it starts getting muddy. You really gotta worry about your cleats and stuff. The main thing I do if it gets wet out is I really try to be conscious of my steps, try to be a little bit lighter on my feet. When I plant my foot right before I kick it I don’t want to be quite as heavy on it. I want to be lighter on it so that way I don’t slide through the grass as much. That in turn kind of takes a little bit from your distance. The main thing is that we as a kicker try to relay to our special teams coach and then the head coach what we think our distance is now. Because when we go out in the rain and it’s a little bit soggier on the field we have to make sure our footing is okay. For the most part we have good enough cleats to where it shouldn’t affect us too much, but if there’s a really heavy rain you really gotta be careful about slipping, so you gotta be a little lighter on your feet. “Windy yea, that’s Kansas City right there for you. I’ve experienced many games this year where it’s been windy. With the wind it’s the same thing. You get out there, especially in pregame, and really kind of test where that wind is at. For the most part when you get out in pregame warm-ups it’s not going to change too much from then until the game time. For me it’s just getting a bunch of repetitions before the game, throwing a lot of grass up, and seeing where it blows. Every stadium is different. The one thing I learned, especially in the San Diego game, is that for the most part winds blowing in Kansas City, no matter what end of the field you’re on, you have to aim to the right upright. The wind blows in a different direction at both ends of the field. You just really gotta make sure to trust yourself. If the winds blowing from right to left I gotta make sure I put the ball to the right upright a little bit. Or if it’s blowing from left to right I gotta make sure I aim to the left of the upright. It all depends on the wind speed too. If it’s blowing 25 to 30 miles an hour, you have to be conscious of it. But I think anything under 15 miles an hour you really don’t have to change too much, except maybe if you get outside of 50 yards. For the most part, unless you have a really gusty game, it’s not going to affect you too much. With the Miami game at the end of the season and especially when it gets colder out, the ball doesn’t quite travel as well through the air, that’s when you really gotta make sure you are consistent with where you want to put the ball and where you’re aiming.” “Regarding bitter cold temperatures: Well, the last two games at Kansas City were eight degrees and minus twenty with the wind chill. I’ve definitely kicked in a few of them. The main thing there is again really making sure you’re on the same page with your special teams coach and your head coach about where you feel comfortable kicking from. If it’s 60 or 70 degrees out, then 60 yards and in you’re usually pretty good. But when you get into the colder situations, the ball’s harder. Especially when it gets below freezing, the ball is just completely different. It impacts your foot; it [the ball] doesn’t come off quite as well. What I did against San Diego and Miami, I went out in pre-game and got back as far as I could and saw where I felt comfortable. Usually it was around 50 or 53 yards in that cold weather. In regular sunny conditions where it’s 70 degrees I can probably hit 60 yarders. You really gotta make sure you test out the ball, because a ball in practice is not the same as the game ball. The game ball is going to be a little bit harder because they’re newer. So you have to take that into to account too. When you get that ball you really have to test it out and see how you like it and see how it feels off your foot. In the end for the most part it’s probably going to take maybe ten yards off your kick in freezing weather like that.”

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Connor Barth With a wind chill of minus 12 degrees at kickoff, the December 21, 2008 game was the second coldest game in Arrowhead Stadium’s history.

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26. Grass vs. Synthetic Turfs “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that gets trampled” - African proverb SURFACE TYPES Grass Grass is the stuff that grows naturally and has been around for a long, long time. For purists, it is real (not manmade). It is typically cooler, softer, and more forgiving than the artificial surfaces, which supports the general belief that it “causes” fewer injuries. It is generally more sustainable (environmentally friendly) than the fake stuff, however it does need water, which can be an issue in dry climates. It needs sunlight, which means it cannot grow indoors. It typically requires more maintenance than artificial surfaces. It also does not hold up as well under heavy use or some types of adverse weather. Grass belongs to the Gramineae plant family, which includes most plants grown as grains, and for lawns and playing surfaces (turf). Commonly used grass types for football fields include Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Ryegrass, Tall Fescue, and Bermudagrass, depending on the climate zone in which the field is located. See the following links for additional information on how grass works and on athletic field turf grasses. Astroturf The old generation of synthetic turf, Astroturf was one of the brand names; however the term became generically utilized when referring to artificial turf. It was invented by two employees of Monsanto in 1964, and was initially called ChemTurf. The product has since changed owners countless times. In essence, it was a carpet, typically installed over concrete. While it made indoor stadiums a viable venue, its abrasive and unforgiving nature became an issue. Consequently its use declined and the newer artificial turf technologies took hold. In the NFL, Indianapolis and St. Louis were the last to still use Astroturf. They both finally switched over to FieldTurf for the 2005 season.

The Astrodome (the Eighth Wonder of the World) The first dome stadium opened in 1965 and featured a newly developed artificial surface, which would hence also use the Astro name.

Fieldturf The new generation of synthetic turf, FieldTurf is one of the brand names; however it has already become a generically used term. The product more closely simulates grass, as opposed to carpeting. The synthetic “grass blades” are typically made of polyethylene. The synthetic “earth” is made of sand and ground up rubber (FieldTurf and Momentum Turf), or just the rubber bits (Astroplay and RealGrass).

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In their product literature, FieldTurf describes their system as follows: “Stable, firm not spongy, non-abrasive and uniform in traction, FieldTurf is engineered to play and feel like natural grass. On FieldTurf, players perform with confidence - and never experience the accelerated fatigue and muscle / joint stress associated with lightweight, rubber- filled systems. Like blades of natural grass, FieldTurf's fibers are soft and easy to slide on. They are surrounded and stabilized by FieldTurf's patented, heavy fill - the «artificial earth» that so clearly sets FieldTurf apart. Composed of smooth, rounded silica sand and cryogenically frozen and smashed rubber particles, FieldTurf's patented infill is engineered to stay «in suspension» providing years of proper biomechanics, shock absorbency and durability. A patented process of precision layering ensures infill uniformity. The result is a stable, resilient, predictable place to play - grass-like performance of the highest quality.”

In their product literature, Sportexe describes their Momentum Turf system as follows: “Sand / Rubber infill creates a fast, dense, firm surface. Exclusive Strenexe fiber is more durable and less abrasive than previous slit-film fibers. Low G-Max means Momentum is safe, yet firm. High Fiber Density helps make Momentum a lush, long-lasting surface. Equal Fiber Matrix provides stability and consistency. QuadbackT provides durability and improved tuft bind. Seams sewn edge-to-edge to eliminate bumps.”

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2008 NFLPA Field Surface Rankings The National Football League Players Association bi-annually ranks the field surfaces of all the NFL stadiums. The following 2008 results are based on the votes from 1565 active NFL players from all 32 teams. The top four spots were all grass fields, although the artificial surfaces made a strong showing thereafter with seven of the next eight slots. 1. Arizona 2. Tampa Bay 3. San Diego 4. Carolina 5. Indianapolis (FieldTurf) 6. Seattle (FieldTurf) 7. Baltimore (Momentum) 8. Jacksonville 9. Atlanta (FieldTurf) 10. Detroit (FieldTurf) 11. New Orleans (Momentum)

12. New England (FieldTurf) 13. Denver 14. Green Bay 15. Washington 16. St. Louis (FieldTurf) 17. Miami 18. Houston 19. New York Giants/Jets (FieldTurf) 20. Tennessee 21. San Francisco

22. Cincinnati (FieldTurf) 23. Kansas City 24. Minnesota (FieldTurf) 25. Cleveland 26. Philadelphia 27. Buffalo (Astroplay) 28. Chicago 29. Dallas (RealGrass) 30. Pittsburgh 31. Oakland

University of Phoenix Stadium NFL players voted the Arizona Cardinals’ home field as the best playing surface in the league. The stadium features a retractable roof and the first ever retractable field. The grass field sits in a single massive tray which typically resides outside the stadium. The tray is rolled into the stadium for games. View a video of the retractable field system here.

We asked NFL kickers to discuss any differences between kicking on grass versus artificial surfaces. Following are their answers: Connor Barth “To my surprise, when I kicked in the ACC in North Carolina, for the most part all the fields in the ACC were pretty nice. Only one field I think, Wake Forest, was FieldTurf when I played in college. Mostly I kicked all on grass surfaces. And I love kicking off grass, because in North Carolina and South Carolina the ground has a lot of time to grow, they’re just a lot of fun, and the weather is usually pretty mild. Now that I kick in the NFL, the stadiums are only nice for about the first three games or four games. Then they start getting torn up because of the weather and stuff. I love kicking off FieldTurf now. I wish that Kansas City would go to it just because it’s a flat surface; there are no bumps. It doesn’t matter how much you play on it, it always stays the same. The big adjustment with the grass in the NFL now is... I don’t know what it is, perhaps there’s more play on it, I guess maybe because the hashes are closer together in the NFL, it gets torn up more. It’s a lot harder to find good spots on the NFL fields I feel. Kicking on FieldTurf, like when I got to kick in Cincinnati and places like that, it was so easy because every spot on the field was nice. It was all flat and there were no disruptions from when people were running around on it. I’m a grass guy, I like kicking off grass because I feel more comfortable. But now that I’ve kicked on more and more FieldTurf fields now that I’ve been in the NFL, I’m kind of leaning towards the FieldTurf just because it’s more of a flat surface and you never have the bumps and divots that you get in grass fields.”

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Ryan Longwell “Kicking in the Metrodome, not having to worry about your foot sticking in the ground is a big advantage.” “The biggest is whether or not your plant foot is going to slip or not. On wet or soft grass you have to be able to adjust on the fly if it slips.” Jay Feely “It’s [FieldTurf] helpful because you get better footing, you get consistent footing. On a grass field, even if it’s a real nice grass field, you may hit a loose spot and lose your footing, and that makes it tough to kick and be consistent. Probably the easiest stuff to kick off of is the old Astroturf that nobody has anymore. Sometimes FieldTurf gets thick and you kind of chunk it, like you would hit a golf shot thick.” Mason Crosby “The only difference is in the plant shoe. I wear longer cleats in grass and shorter on turf. Other than that, I do not make big adjustments.” Jeff Reed “It depends on the kind of grass and the field you are playing on. It is easier on your body, whether you are a player or a kicker, when you play on grass. At times, when you get mud or sand, you have to adjust your steps because I attack the ball so I don’t want to slip. Field turf is nice because you can always attack the ball whether there is rain or snow. Sometimes, when it snows, if the field turf isn’t heated, there is snow on top of the field, so it is interesting, to say the least. I have had some crummy games dealing with that. Overall, as a kicker, I want grass. If the grass is slick, or it doesn’t hold over an entire season, artificial turf is better for me because I can trust it more.” Joe Nedney “Field turf is different than grass, obviously. Some field turf has longer, thicker synthetic grass blades which makes striking the ball "clean" a little more difficult. Natural surfaces "give" so if a kicker strikes the ground before the ball, he will make a divot. Field turf doesn't allow for that. A kicker's foot may skip off the turf if he hits the ground before the ball, causing a miss-hit. There is, in my opinion, less margin for error on field turf and striking the ball "clean" becomes that much more important.”

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Jeff Reed kicks a field goal on the grass surface of Heinz Field.

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KICKING RESULTS ON VARIOUS SURFACES The big question of course, is how do the various surfaces affect the kicking game?

FG Total Stadium Astroplay visitors Astroplay home Astroplay total Astroturf Visitors Astroturf home Astroturf total FieldTurf visitors FieldTurf home FieldTurf total Grass visitors Grass home Grass total grass (heated) visitors grass (heated) home grass (heated) total Momentum Turf visitors Momentum Turf Home Momentum Turf total RealGrass visitors RealGrass home RealGrass total

avg

FG 1-19

md

att

65

84 77.4% 0

0

80

104 76.9% 0

FG 20-29

md att md

FG 30-39

FG 40-49

FG 50+

POINTS

att

md

att md att

md att XPm XPa Total ppg

22

23

21

26

19

27

3

8

97

97

292

5.7

0

35

39

28

30

13

27

4

8

110

110

350

6.9

145 188 77.1% 0

0

57

62

49

56

32

54

7

16

207

207

642

6.3

258 309 83.5% 3

3

75

78

84

93

75

96

21

39

365

367

1139

6.9

266 331 80.4% 2

2

96

99

74

85

74 111

20

34

412

417

1210

7.4

524 640 81.9% 5

5

171 177 158 178 149 207

41

73

777

784

2349

7.2

630 769 81.9% 7

7

214 224 181 210 179 244

49

82

914

918

2804

6.7

682 797 85.6% 10

10 220 225 231 263 176 221

45

77

1018 1028 3064

7.3

1312 1566 83.8% 17

17 434 449 412 473 355 465

94 159 1932 1946 5868

7.0

1550 1957 79.2% 26

26 536 558 480 578 414 617

94 177 2178 2208 6828

6.2

1666 2104 79.2% 22

24 561 588 533 630 456 665

94 196 2621 2659 7619

6.9

3216 4061 79.2% 48

50 1097 1146 1013 1208 870 1282 188 373 4799 4867 14447 6.6

224 289 77.5% 2

2

67

74

85

95

61

98

9

20

316

322

988

6.5

207 272 76.1% 8

8

71

75

70

94

50

78

8

17

282

290

903

5.9

431 561 76.8% 10

10 138 149 155 189 111 176

17

37

598

612

1891

6.2

128 148 86.5% 3

3

45

47

41

43

27

36

11

18

150

150

534

6.8

144 166 86.7% 4

4

48

49

51

53

35

48

6

12

198

199

630

8.0

272 314 86.6% 7

7

93

96

92

96

62

84

17

30

348

349

1164

7.4

92

111 82.9% 1

1

26

28

29

30

29

38

7

14

119

122

395

6.7

81

104 77.9% 2

2

28

28

22

27

23

35

6

10

153

154

396

6.7

173 215 80.5% 3

3

54

56

51

57

52

73

13

24

272

276

791

6.7

Surface Notes and Observations ƒ

The field goal percentage numbers are typically better on artificial surfaces than they are on grass.

ƒ

FieldTurf and Momentum Turf are the only two surfaces where the home kickers’ field goal percentage is better than the opponents’ kickers.

ƒ

The numbers for Astroplay, RealGrass, and Momentum Turf are limited since they are only used in one or two stadiums each.

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27. Profile of a Top Five Kicker “The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” - Aristotle In summary of various sections above, a Top Five kicker can be profiled as follows: ƒ

Could end up just about anywhere in the rankings the year afterwards

ƒ

Nearly half of them ranked between 6th and 15th the preceding year

ƒ

87% of them ranked in the top ten in number of field goal attempts

ƒ

Kickers with a field goal completion percentage from 85%-90% have the best odds of being a top five scorer

ƒ

73% come from top ten scoring offenses

ƒ

60% come from top ten yardage offenses

ƒ

52% come from top ten scoring defenses

ƒ

51% come from top ten yardage defenses

ƒ

A team with a new kicker is less likely to be in the top five in kicker scoring than one with an incumbent

ƒ

A team with a new quarterback is less likely to be in the top five in kicker scoring than one with an incumbent

ƒ

A team with a new head coach is less likely to be in the top five in kicker scoring than one with an incumbent

ƒ

Kickers with a home dome stadium do slightly better than those outdoors, but the difference is small

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28. Profile of the Year Prior to Being a Top Five Kicker “We basically can take the people who have already purchased a product, profile those people compared to the base and identify people who have similar traits that would buy that product.” - Tim Barnes From 1991 to 2007, there were 45 instances of a team scoring at least 130 kicking points. Following is a look at the statistics from the prior year for those teams. TEAMS THAT SCORED AT LEAST 130 KICKING POINTS IN A YEAR The Year Team

year

pts

The Year Before

rnk K HC QB XPA FGA

Min

1998 164

1

Stl

2003 163

Ind

N

pts

rnk

O-pt O-yd D-pt D-yd

Rec

Post LD

34

27

70.4%

90

24

11

8

20

29

9-7

1

37

25

76.0%

94

24

23

9

23

13

7-9

2003 157

2

34

31

74.2%

103

19

17

12

7

8

10-6

LWC

Was

1991 149

1

41

40

75.0%

131

2

4

4

13

14

10-6

LD

Ari

2005 149

1

N

28

29

75.9%

94

22

26

27

12

12

6-10

NYG

2005 148

2

N

33

28

78.6%

99

18

22

23

17

13

6-10

Car

1996 145

1

28

33

78.8%

105

19

25

27

8

9

7-9

Ind

1999 145

1

23

31

87.1%

104

14

19

16

29

29

3-13

Mia

1999 144

2

34

27

81.5%

99

17

16

18

1

3

10-6

LD

Chi

2006 143

1

27

31

71.0%

92

28

26

31

1

2

11-5

LD

Pit

1995 141

1

32

29

82.8%

104

13

16

12

2

3

12-4

LC

NE

2004 141

1

38

34

73.5%

112

11

12

18

1

7

14-2

WSB

GB

2007 141

1

32

35

74.3%

109

14

22

9

25

12

8-8

Buf

1998 140

2

N

21

30

80.0%

93

20

29

25

23

11

6-10

Atl

2002 138

1

N

28

37

78.4%

115

7

23

11

24

30

7-9

Bal

2003 137

4

N

33

26

80.8%

96

22

24

26

19

22

7-9

NE

2007 137

2

44

26

76.9%

103

19

7

11

2

6

12-4

Ten

1998 136

3

32

35

77.1%

113

11

14

20

12

22

8-8

Ten

2003 136

3

36

31

80.6%

111

14

14

20

11

9

11-5

SD

2006 136

2

49

24

87.5%

112

12

5

10

13

13

9-7

SD

1994 135

1

33

40

77.5%

124

6

10

14

13

17

8-8

Ind

1996 135

2

34

33

69.7%

103

20

17

23

5

7

9-7

Bal

2000 135

1

32

33

84.8%

116

8

14

22

6

2

8-8

Den

1997 134

1

46

28

75.0%

109

14

4

1

7

4

13-3

LD

Jac

1997 134

1

27

36

83.3%

117

9

14

3

19

15

9-7

LC

Sea

1999 134

3

41

24

79.2%

98

18

10

23

10

28

8-8

Mia

1991 133

2

37

25

84.0%

100

14

14

15

4

8

12-4

LD

Phi

2002 133

2

38

31

83.9%

115

7

9

18

2

7

11-5

LC

Ten

2007 133

3

32

28

78.6%

98

26

16

27

31

32

8-8

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N

FG%

N

N N N N

N N N

N

N

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LC

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Oak

1993 132

1

N

28

26

57.7%

73

23

23

20

11

8

7-9

Min

1994 132

2

N

28

35

74.3%

105

15

20

19

12

1

9-7

Den

1995 132

2

29

37

81.1%

119

3

10

5

25

27

7-9

Det

1995 132

2

40

27

66.7%

93

18

6

15

19

24

9-7

Ten

1996 131

3

33

31

87.1%

114

10

15

24

7

3

7-9

Den

2000 131

2

29

36

80.6%

116

8

18

13

11

6

6-10

GB

2000 131

2

38

30

83.3%

113

12

10

9

20

17

8-8

Cin

2005 131

3

41

31

87.1%

122

5

10

19

21

19

8-8

Stl

2006 131

3

N

36

31

87.1%

117

7

11

6

31

30

6-10

Dal

2007 131

4

N

N

49

28

71.4%

109

14

4

5

20

13

9-7

LWC

Dal

1993 130

2

N

48

35

68.6%

119

4

2

4

5

1

13-3

WSB

Det

1993 130

2

30

26

80.8%

93

13

19

19

20

20

5-11

SF

1996 130

4

54

28

71.4%

111

14

1

2

2

1

11-5

LD

Jac

1999 130

4

45

26

80.8%

108

12

8

11

17

25

11-5

LD

NO

2002 130

3

32

31

87.1%

113

11

13

8

27

19

7-9

Cin

2007 130

5

42

30

83.3%

115

10

8

8

17

30

8-8

N N

N

LWC LWC

In summary of the known items before a team scored at least 130 kicking points in a season: ƒ

Of the 45 teams, 38 had the same kicker as the prior season, 38 had the same head coach, and 35 had the same primary quarterback

ƒ

They averaged 35.2 extra point attempts the prior year

ƒ

They averaged 30.6 field goal attempts the prior year

ƒ

They averaged scoring 107 kicking point the previous season