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Point of Veau: Football is Not Golf

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Point of Veau: Football is Not Golf

Sometime during the course of Mason Crosby's season-long slump, you've probably heard or read the art of kicking compared to the game of golf.

The similarities are undeniable:

  • The pendulum-like swing of the club and the leg
  • The split-second of contact that determines the flight of the ball
  • The ability of the ball to either hook or slice
  • The differing approach to long-distance drives as opposed to chip shots and, of course...
  • The mental side of the game that can have almost as much impact as the physical aspect

For as much as kicking and golf have in common, however, the game of football and golf have more differences.

Golf is an individual sport.

When Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson go into a slump, when their swing is out of whack, they compete through it. They have no choice.

In golf, you are your own team. There's no one on the bench or free agents on the street to replace a golfer.

Sure, some of the biggest names in golf might be afforded the opportunity to take a few tournaments off to work on their mechanics, but not those fighting to make a living off the sport and definitely not in any major tournaments.

Football, it goes without saying, is a team sport. The successes and failures of any one player have an impact on the team as a whole. And Crosby's performance has an impact on the other 52 players on the roster, the coaching staff, the front office and even the fan base that supports the team.

Mike McCarthy has remained steadfast in his devotion to Crosby, saying he will remain the Packers kicker and making reference to the organization's draft and develop philosophy, a commitment to the players in which the team has made an investment.

There's certainly a value to that line of thinking. Players aren't constantly looking over their shoulder, which instills a sense of confidence and, perhaps, makes it more likely a player is going to improve or break out of a slump.

It also shows that, at least in some places, maybe the NFL isn't quite the cruel, cut-throat business it's so often perceived to be.

The Packers made the correct choice to hang onto Crosby following the game against the Detroit Lions back during Week 11 after he missed two of three field goals (not including another miss on a late timeout called by Detroit). The hope was that Crosby had hit rock bottom and would rebound.

But Week 11 wasn't rock bottom.

There's also a line of thinking that the Packers won't make a move to oust Crosby until he actually costs them a game. But can the Packers afford for Crosby to cost them a game in the playoffs?

While McCarthy's faith in Crosby is admirable, the coach shouldn't lean toward being stubborn. A miss by Crosby in the playoffs could cut McCarthy's tenure short in Green Bay by several seasons.

That's not to intimate McCarthy will be fired if Crosby misses a playoff field goal. But he would be on the metaphorical hot seat far sooner than necessary, and all because he wouldn't make a change at kicker when he had a chance. That's not in the best interest of the organization, and it is avoidable.

No one wants to callous when a person's livelihood is at stake. From all appearances, Crosby is a terrific person. But that can't let the Packers cloud their judgement in an outcome-based profession.

Crosby's misses have already changed the way the Packers operate, as evidenced by the way they elected to go for it on fourth down in lieu of a 44-yard field goal attempt this past weekend against the Bears.

There's actually some merit in choosing to leave your offense on the field on fourth down, but that's immaterial when you're 45 yards out and down by two points in the fourth quarter with two seconds left on the clock.

Minus Robbie Gould, the Chicago Bears showed on Sunday that despite Olindo Mare being past his prime, at least he wasn't going to misfire on a field goal twenty yards to the left or the right.

Crosby isn't just having a bad season, he's having one of the worst seasons in the history of the NFL, at least recent history. That shouldn't be allowed to continue.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Jack's picture

Who is this decision on more? McCarthy or Thompson? Could Thompson cut him anyway and pick someone up even if MM disapproves? I realize MM and TT aren't going to have a big fight and be flexing their power over each other, but I feel like Thompson should maybe be more involved than he has been talked about

razor's picture

Agree with everything you said. For a while now I have admired the Packer's loyalty to players, but at some point it becomes obvious that you are hurting the overall team performance by continuing to work with an underperforming player.

In Mason Crosby's case he is hurting the team on the scoreboard and putting an extra burden on the rest of the team to overcome his shortcomings. And the odds are significantly against Mason Crosby contributing at the expected level for the rest of the year because he will not be able to quickly turn it around.

Keeping him gives a psychological advantage to any playoff team that the Packers face and will cause a psychological disadvantage for Green Bay.

A new kicker probably has more upside potential at this point and couldn't do much worse.

PacMan's picture

I agree 100% with the article.

Personally, I thought Crosby would be gone this week. It looked like he corrected things against the Lions but apparently not. Looks like he gets one more chance. If he even comes close to missing against Tenn, I think he's a goner.

If not, I think fans in GB should start a protest.

Crosby could go down in history and resign - saying he doesn't want to hurt the team. But not many people will resign that size paycheck.

Fish/Crane's picture

The honorable patience of the Packers is actually making it harder for Crosby to recover. This compassion and their optimism only adds to his desire/ misery and mental funk. I fear he will only snap out of this when he hits rock bottom, which I believe is yet to come.

If there is a mentally unable to perform MUP list, I'd love to see him comeback next year. But as it stands now this is going to end very ugly, I fear.

Fish/Crane's picture

Geesh, the more I think of it...I wonder why are we having this conversation. This is a kicker who can't make field goals..we've all grown too attached to probably the most expendable position in football.

hayward4president's picture

Why are we still talking about this after MM said he was staying? I know he sucks....but we are stuck with him.

Ebongreen's picture

My question would be more about the endgame of cutting Crosby. With whom do you replace him? Who would be better?

One of Mason's skills is the ability to hammer a kickoff. This isn't as crucial now as it was before they changed the kick spot, but still valuable as the weather grows cold and the ball hardens. Do bad-weather kickoff guys with big legs grow on trees? Are any of them any better at booting long balls in foul weather than Crosby has been?

If there was a healthy Robbie Gould sitting on the waiver wire somewhere, I'd be all in favor of switching. When Olindo Mare is the caliber of KOS the Bears hire to replace RobbieG, I'm not sure there's an upgrade out there begging for a spot as the Packers' kicker.

It's up to Ted and the front office to perform due diligence in looking, but I'm not confident in better options being available.

bryce's picture

Crosby shanked one out of bounds against Minnesota, and with the line moved up, most kickers could make it to the end zone at least. So, I'm not to worried about kickoffs.

Nate Kaeding, Ryan Longwell, Neil Rackers, Kris Brown, Dave Rayner, John Kasay, David Buehler, hell even Billy Cundiff would be better. Pick up a CFL kicker. Crosby is historically bad. It's time to cut ties. The argument that there was no one better out there was floating around awhile ago. The Bears signed Olindo Mare, and he's clearly better than Crosby right now.

PackerBacker's picture

All I can say is that MM and TT are in for an "I told you so" of epic proportions if Crosby F's up in the playoffs and loses one for them.

Seriously, they are using all of their credibility from the SuperBowl run on a damn kicker.

bryce's picture

Well stated Brian, much more thoughtful than the typical, "Crosby sucks."

If the Packers don't have the guts to cut Crosby and get someone new in, they will lose a playoff game because of it. Mark my words. I defended him while McCarthy was having him attempt 56 yarders, but now, it's just time for him to hit the street.

cow42's picture

crosby sucks

Chris's picture

Can this be a financial issue why the Packers keep Crosby? I know he recently signed a new contract. Do the Packers take a big cap hit if they release him?

Maybe someone here with more knowledge than me about salary caps can look into it.

KennyPayne's picture

My thoughtt as well. Is TT reluctant to cut a player he gave a big contract to just a couple of years ago? Every team takes unwanted cap hits from time to time and TT and MM can hardly be blamed for Crosby's sudden inability to kick like a NFL kicker.

They can, and should, be blamed when their loyalty (idiocy?) leads to an unnecessary loss.

imma fubared's picture

Ya well TT doesn't have deep owner pockets to fall back on. The Packers are broke and have no money to go out and get free agetns

WisconsInExile's picture

That's both a false and ignorant statement.

Beep's picture

I said it after the game and I'll say it again...if the Packers aren't going to cut Crosby, lets still sign someone else to handle the FG duties and maybe split PAT's. Let Crosby do kickoffs and work through his issues.

Brooklyn81's picture

I completely agree let someone else handle the fg and let Crosby do the kickoffs

imma fubared's picture

I feel for the guy but the Bears went out and got a replacement for Gould and he kicked two field goals. Ya the guy was 85 years old but the ball went over the post. that is all that matters.

cow42's picture

screw field goals.
they're boring as hell, anyhow.

how hard would the Packers be to plan for if the opposing team knew that the Packers were going to go for it on every 4th down that occurs outside the 10 yard line?

sure would change a defensive coordinator's thought process if they new that 3 and 5-10 didn't necessarily mean "pass".

the more i think about this.... the more i like it!

no more kicking!

hell - i haven't attempted a field goal on Madden in years.

Rocky70's picture

You've been posting like that's all you know anymore ---- video football. ---- Time for you to just read.

cow42's picture

i actually don't even play Madden (or any video games for that matter)... that part was a joke.

going for it on 4th downs - not a joke.

i enjoy reading you're posts, rocky.

you're really good at sounding smart without actually saying anything at all.

it's sort of a gift.

Jay's picture

An economist did an article and found that it would be advantageous to go for it on 4th down, regardless of the field position, so it's not crazy.

cow42's picture

bang!

jrunde10's picture

At this point what does it hurt to bring in another kicker to try out? Maybe Crosby basically gives up but what do you have to lose? Is 58% really worth holding onto? He's probably at a point right now where he will never kick well again in Green Bay,

At the very least they need to bring a kicker into next camp.

Rocky70's picture

I sleep well at night knowing that fans/bloggers have zero impact on the decisions made by TT/MM. ---- It's called "professional football" for a reason.

cow42's picture

there you go again...

the subtle superiority angle is a good one.

keep up the good work.

chris's picture

If cow can find a positive out of keeping Crosby on the roster then to keep Crosby on the roster is probably the wrong thing to do(I mean this in the nicest way possible, I am also a fellow pessimist). Looking at history the most common point differential in NFL games is 3 points exactly, which means it is most likely to cost us getting to overtime or winning the game in regulation. The thing is I think McCarthy's ego has gotten too large, he seems unwilling to make changes or adapt and this is one of those times, unfortunately this one will for sure cost us a regular season and/or playoff game.

hayward4president's picture

Cow. If you are playing madden. The fake field goal works almost every time. Sheesh I thought even you would know that.

Lucky953's picture

Mason Crosby will win a playoff game for the Packers this year. Their trust in him will pay off and that will be a moment to bring a sweet tear to our eyes. Loyalty rewarded is a fine thing indeed.

Turophile's picture

I stand by the golfer comparison I made before (not here). I did not use it to justify keeping Crosby or getting rid of him.

If a golfer with a simple, fundamentally sound swing has mechanical problems (and mental problems also induce problems with mechanics), you should usually be able to recover form with good analysis and hard work.

If a golfer has a fundamentally unsound swing (like the looping swing) then it is very difficult to get everything working in synch and problems will keep coming back.

It is all about mechanics and creating an almost robotic repetition. I used that golf comparison to illustrate that the Packers need to decide what they have in Crosby. Do they have a kicker with simple,solid, repeatable basic mechanics, or do they have someone who was never that sound mechanically and who will regularly dip into a loss of form.

There is a good argument for replacing Crosby whatever. If he is likely to get his mojo back, resign him next year. If his mechanics suggest more problems down the road, do not ask him back.

I never really had a problem keeping him this long to see if he can get back in the groove, but in the NFL this cannot go on very long, especially at this critical point in the season.

I'll add one more thing. If you miss the odd kick, the wisdom is you put it out of your mind for the next one, I agree with that. HOWEVER, if you keep missing, each kick should not be forgotten, but dwelled on, analysed, agonised over, until the problem is fixed....at this point forgetting is not helping.

David's picture

Question for the people who keep saying "there's not a better option out there. " Do you actually believe this? Please tell me you don't actually believe one of the FA kickers out there can't make more than 50% of their fgs.

Tony's picture

I think what they need to do on Sunday.. and granted, this isn't some piece of cake, but if they get a comfortable lead and are able to move the ball, they should get into field goal range and essentially "take a knee." Let Crosby have some opportunities in a game situation where if he misses it won't cost the game. But if he makes, he increases the lead and can get his stroke back. If they're going to keep the guy, I wouldn't hate to see him get some more chances in a game he can't blow.

Fish . Crane's picture

or they could throw bombs on third and short

Bugeater's picture

The only downside to bringing in a kicker for tryouts is hurting Crosby's confidence...and I think we all know that horse has already left the barn.

Plus, I'm pretty sure professional athletes are supposed to respond well to competition, so I'm not really all that sad about that.

When the running backs weren't performing well, they brought in Benson. It didn't seem to devastate Green or Starks. Ryan Grant got cut and is back playing happily even after being ignored by the team all year.

Just bring a guy in for some tryouts. If Crosby is surprised by that or can't handle it, well, too bad. He can always try to compete his way out of it.

EP66's picture

Let Masthay kick, he did FGs & KOs in college & high school. Worse case if they dont want to bring someone in - Hawk was a punter & kicker in high school besides MLB (that should draw some ire lol)

Franklin Hillside's picture

You do drugs, Danny?

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