It's time for the seventh annual "Best & Worst Case Scenario" series, a feature that goes back to the days of the old RailbirdCentral.com domain.
I attempt to take a look at what is the very best possible season a player is capable of producing, and on the other hand, what would happen if a player fell flat on his face (without assuming they suffer a season-ending injury). These are intended to be extreme scenarios on both sides of the spectrum. More than likely, each player is going to fall somewhere in the middle, but every now and then, they just so happen to come to fruition.
As one final note, I also try to take a look at what these scenarios would be from an individual standpoint and not necessarily what's best (or worst) for the team.
Best-case scenario: Crosby is able to right the ship. No, he doesn't get back to the same level he was at in 2011 when he connected on over 85 percent of his field goals, but he has an average, maybe even slightly above average season for an NFL kicker. Compared to where he was, it's a marked improvement. Crosby makes over three-quarters of his field-goal attempts, is perfect on his extra points and ranks in the top half of the league in kickoff distance. When he misses a field goal, no longer do they miss far to the right or left of the goal posts, which inspires confidence.
Worst-case scenario: Crosby bottoms out. During preseason action he makes a little over 50 percent of his field goal attempts, which doesn't cut it. He might have the edge over Tavecchio in leg strength, but his accuracy is scattershot. His confidence is visibly shaken, and the Packers can no longer endure his struggles. With three years left on his contract, the team has to eat the guaranteed money on his contract, but they decide it's better than watching him continue to miss field goals.
Best-case scenario: Tavecchio consistently performs better than Crosby throughout the course of training camp and in preseason action. Whenever they practice field goals during camp, it always seems like the Italian native makes at least one more than Crosby. And when it comes to the exhibition season, his field-goal percentage outpaces the competition. The Packers are forced to keep Tavecchio on their roster when Crosby fails, and he goes onto have an average but at least reliable first season in the NFL, making over three-quarters of his field goals and easily scoring more than 100 points.
Worst-case scenario: Tavecchio has an average training camp with the Packers, but it's not good enough to supplant Crosby. After his decisive win over the veteran in the Family Night scrimmage, it seems as if Crosby gets the better of the young kicker the rest of the way. It doesn't help that Tavecchio has the weakest leg on the team compared to Crosby on field goals and Tim Masthay on kickoffs. The Packers eventually cut Tavecchio, but that doesn't necessarily prevent them from scouring the waiver wire for another kicker to take over for Crosby.
Best-case scenario: Masthay re-writes the Packers record book, breaking most of the marks he already holds. He's able to better his single season career high gross punting average of 45.6 yards, his net punting average of 38.9 yards and the 30 punts downed inside the 20. It's all the more impressive considering the winter climate he forced to perform in for the last quarter of the season. Masthay also wins the kickoff specialist job by default when Crosby is cut. Pro Bowl honors are bestowed on him for the first time in his career.
Worst-case scenario: It's an average season for Masthay, partially because he's prone to mini-slumps. Each year he seems to get off to a slow start or a slow finish, and in 2013, he does both. Masthay isn't helped by his coverage units, but his gross and net punting averages dip to career lows. At least one of his punts is returned for a touchdown and another gets blocked.
Best-case scenario: For a sixth consecutive season, Goode doesn't have a single errant snap that causes disaster on a punt or kick. It's a remarkable achievement that he's done his job rather flawlessly for so long. Goode isn't a speed demon, but he does as well as can be expected in coverage, which allows the punt team to excel.
Worst-case scenario: The streak is broken. Goode has two bad snaps, one going over the head of the punter and the other over the head of the place-kick holder. It's an unfortunate occurrence, but the Packers aren't about to cut him midseason. They are, however, motivated to bring in competition at long snapper in the offseason.
Previous Best & Worst Case Scenario Entries
Brian Carriveau is the author of the book "It's Just a Game: Big League Drama in Small Town America," and editor of Cheesehead TV's "Pro Football Draft Preview." To contact Brian, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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