Crosby Finds Support From Coaches, MIT Paper

Only three active kickers have a worse career field-goal percentage than Mason Crosby, but the numbers don't tell the whole story. Crosby, shrugging off the offseason competition and leaning on his strong end to 2012, is confident he will bounce back from a dismal year.

For the first time since beating out Dave Rayner as a seventh-round pick in 2007, Mason Crosby will be challenged in training camp.

It's an incredible notion, considering Crosby ranks 29th out of 32 active kickers with 76.8 percent career accuracy.

"I think the competition is good, seeing someone kick," Crosby said this week. "If he's making kicks and I'm continuing to hit mine through, then we kind of just go back and forth. It's good to be pushed and I'm happy with that. I feel like, through these last few weeks since we've been kicking and working, I really feel like I'm taking steps every day. I'm trying to find something I can improve on and get better. I think the competition breeds that and I'm thankful for that."

The only active kickers with lower career accuracy are journeymen Nick Novak (76.2 percent; four teams) and Billy Cundiff (75.5 percent; six teams), and Graham Gano (74.7 percent; two teams).

Still, the Packers never have wavered in their support for Crosby. Even the competition, Giorgio Tavecchio, a native of Milan, Italy, seems like token competition. Cal's kicker all four seasons, Tavecchio made 75.0 percent of his field goal attempts and misfired on eight extra points. He was a camp leg for San Francisco last summer.

Why the staunch support in such a bottom-line business?

An MIT paper, of all things, provides some insight.

Authors Torin K. Clark, Aaron W. Johnson and Alexander J. Stimpson found that, since 2000, Lambeau Field was the second-toughest venue in the NFL for kickers. The toughest was New England's Gillett Stadium, though that ranking is based only during the period when it had a grass surface. With the switch to turf in 2006, life has been vastly easier for kickers, the authors' research showed.

Moreover, Crosby's 33 attempts from 50-plus yards since he entered the league are more than every other kicker other than Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski (52 attempts). Crosby is 14-of-33 for his career from long distance, with those 19 misses representing 41.3 percent of his 46 career misses.

Based on climate and distance, Crosby is the fifth-most "underrated" kicker in the league, the authors found, based on his actual success rate and the level-of-difficulty rate.

"Evaluating kickers on pure make percentage underrates kickers who attempt proportionately more difficult kicks, and overrates kickers who make proportionately easier kicks," the authors wrote.

That doesn't give Crosby a free pass from last season, when he made 21-of-33 attempts, including misses from 32, 38, 42 (twice) and 43 yards. The Packers' continued confidence in him, and his 6-for-6 finish (including playoffs), gave him momentum entering the offseason.

"It's what I strive to do every week," Crosby said. "I want to be 100 percent on field goals. I want to make kicks. It's my job. It's my responsibility to go out there and make field goals. Every time I take the field that's my focus. And especially this offseason. Practice, in the weight room, everything I'm doing I'm focusing on being sharp, being in that moment and taking advantage of that opportunity. I think it's going to carry me a long way."

As he does every offseason, Crosby studies his film. He focuses on the positives and tries to discard the negatives.

"You look at the mechanics of things and make sure that I'm striking the ball the way I want to and I'm approaching it," Crosby said. "It's like every year. I break down all the parts of it (and) look at the mental side of it. Through it all, I look at the positives at the end of the year when I made some kicks down the stretch that I needed to make. I draw off of that. As far as mentally goes, that's a positive for me. I was able to figure it out through that rough time and come out so I'm carrying that on into the offseason. Mechanically, it's just look at things. Fine tune and detail my work and make sure every time I go out on the field I hit a good ball. I'm focused on being consistent and doing those things right."


Agree or disagree?: Discuss hot Packers topics in our, free forums. Leave Bill a question in the subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum.


Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


Packer Report Top Stories