The time has come. The time is now. Mason W. Crosby will you please go now.
I know it isn't the popular opinion right now, and that "Sergio" Tavecchio hasn't exactly overwhelmed anyone (particularly his head coach, who can't get his first name right). But, it is my humble opinion that kicker Mason Crosby is toast. It's time for you to go. Goodbye.
Some of you might think it is because he missed a ton of field goal attempts in a scrimmage Saturday night, missing an unacceptable 5 out of 8. While certainly that adds to the concern, its not the nail in the coffin for me.
Some of you might believe I'm still wallowing in Crosby's struggles last season, when he finished with an abhorrent 67.9% field goal percentage, and we all sat on the edge of our seats for a 30-yard attempt. Yeah, that's a big factor, too, but not the straw that broke the camel's back.
Some of you might think that the very idea of having competition in camp, in the form of perhaps the least threatening kicker Ted Thompson could find, and having Crosby wilt in the face of it is my final straw. It isn't, thought it certainly concerns many of us who cried for competition for years...quoting Thompson's own mantra that competition makes everyone better.
No, the end of my faith in Mason Crosby to be the once of future king of the Green Bay Packers kicking game was his quotes afterwards.
"No, I've been hitting the ball well," Crosby said. "Obviously extremely disappointed with how I hit it tonight. Have to evaluate that and break it down. I can't think about things like that. I just have to go and actually work on things, make sure I hit the ball through the uprights. That's all I can really worry about and focus on right now."
I'm not sure exactly what competition is supposed to bring out in you, but I'm pretty sure that this isn't it. This is a guy who has no idea why he's not doing well, and has no idea how to fix it. He's going to be bummed about his performance and go back and check the tape and see if he can find the mechanical problems?
I have news for you: the problems aren't mechanical. They're mental. And the passive approach to his own problems just echo the impact the failed efforts of Shawn Slocum on his career.
Let me tell you something: I really like Mason Crosby, and I've rooted for him from Day 1. He's an upstanding guy, involved in the community and giving at charity events. He's got the prototypical body for an NFL kicker, with all the right metrics, from his height to his strong leg. And, I don't blame Crosby all that much for his own shortcomings.
I blame Slocum, who should rightfully be fired for his ongoing failings with an stud kicker over the years. I'm not going to bore you by reprinting the entire Slocum/Crosby history: you can read pieces from 2009, 2009, and 2010 to see the list of stupid moves. But the years of Slocum's over-possessive control over Crosby and mind games have finally come to home to roost. You can't forbid your kicker, who knows he has mechanical issues, to NOT SEE ANY OTHER KICKING COACHES in the offseason (you know, when it is prudent to change your kicking style), then completely break down and rebuild his kicking style DURING A PLAYOFF RUN because he's still struggling.
In a way, it seems to have been an unhealthy relationship from the start, and now, Crosby's is echoing Slocum's usual excuses for him. We'll just go back and check the tape and see what we have to fix. Seriously? Crosby is starting to sound like Eeyore. This is Mason Crosby's seventh professional season. Why is he still having to fix mechanical errors?
And the point is, he doesn't have mechanical errors, or at least not ones that aren't caused by his own head. Lesson learned for the Packers: if you play head games with a kicker, you get a kicker that's a head case. Personally, I think Crosby might have a chance to save his career if he gets a fresh start somewhere else. But after six full seasons in the NFL, a drafted kicker isn't unlike a top draft pick at other positions in expectations. You really expect them to be solid players after two or three seasons, or you move on. Crosby might have set some scoring records thanks to a prolific offense giving him many opportunities, but at this point, do you trust him in a big game to come through on a 40-yarder?
I don't either, and I'm pretty sure Mike McCarthy doesn't anymore. While people can point to Crosby's statistics over the final few games of the season as a rebound from his struggles earlier last year, we know from observation that McCarthy started passing up long field goal opportunities, giving Crosby chip shots to increase his confidence.
It's time to move on. I don't know if Giovanni Tavecchio is going to be anywhere near the physical specimen that Crosby is. He doesn't have a super strong leg and kickoff duties would likely be ceded to Tim Masthay. 50+ yard field goal scenarios would have to weighed against whether or not Tavecchio has the oomph to make it.
But, at this point, what's the difference between an average kicker who believes he can make it, and a great kicker who doesn't? You might have the same percentage of making that kick, but Tavecchio can be treated like any other player, not with kid gloves to preserve his ego. If Tavecchio doesn't perform well, you sign someone different next season. That's they way it is supposed to work.
I'll be honest: I really like Mason Crosby and want him to be successful. And I think the only way that's going to happen is to get him as far away from Shawn Slocum as possible.