Green Bay Packers placekicker Mason Crosby is coming off of his best season in 2013, in terms of field goal percentage. After facing the worst year of his career and posting the worst mark for a starting kicker in the NFL in 2012 (63.6%), Crosby finished 2013 at 89.2%.
He converted on 33 of 37 tries, seven of which were 50 yards or longer. Crosby also made all 42 of his extra point attempts.
Still, let’s not forget some of the circumstances that Crosby faced to reach that success.
Entering the 2013 season, one had to search long and hard to find any amount of confidence that Crosby would bounce back from the horror that was 2012. Towards the end of that year and any time Crosby lined up to kick a field goal, fans and media alike held their collective breath, hoping that the ball was at least somewhere near the crossbars.
That season, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts, Crosby kicked a ball so far off base that some wondered if he had hurt himself on the kick.
After the 2012 season, Packers head coach Mike McCarthy immediately began fielding questions about Crosby and his future with the team. The head coach expressed frustration about the output from his kicker but seemed to be supporting Crosby throughout the offseason and preseason. McCarthy has had a tendency to remain loyal to “his guys” and players that he is familiar with, even when those players are sometimes not performing to acceptable standards.
This appeared to be the case as Crosby entered training camp the lone placekicker on the roster. Shortly after it seemed that Crosby was still struggling to find his groove, the team signed Giorgio Tavecchio to come in and compete with Crosby.
The left-footed Tavecchio actually out-kicked Crosby in terms of field goals made during practice and preseason games, but lacked the ideal leg strength to offer the complete package the Packers would have needed to move in another direction.
Tavecchio was cut (much to the chagrin of our own Jersey Al) and McCarthy seemed ready to ride or die with Crosby in 2013. Crosby didn’t let his coach down.
Recently, Crosby spoke with ESPN’s Rob Demovsky and addressed his approach to last season. He summed it up in three words: “Let it go”. That is what Crosby had to do in order to move past the disastrous season before and fight to keep his job.
Despite the success that Crosby had and all confidence that may be restored in him, should the Packers bring in more competition for him again this offseason?
When Tavecchio was signed last year, there were those who were in favor of pushing Crosby to improve or get out of town. There were also those who worried about the psyche of a kicker and whether that would cause more problems than improvement. I have likened placekicking to golf in the past in that the mental aspect is paramount to a kicker’s success.
After seeing the results that were obtained in 2013 and in not forgetting that Crosby followed up a very successful 2011 season (85.7%) with his worst in 2012, I think the Packers would be wise to consider adding more competition again this year.
Kickers often can be found in the undrafted free agency pool and wouldn’t cost a draft pick. To bring someone in and have to let them go would not likely cost the Packers any money either. Crosby is entering his eight season and by now, he has to understand the business side of the game and that no job is ever truly safe in the NFL.
The Packers lost their playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers by a field goal this past season. It truly does come down to a few kicks here or there that could be the difference between a late playoff push and another early exit. The Packers need Crosby at the top of his game in 2014 and should consider the best avenue to achieve that success.
Jason Perone is an independent sports blogger writing about the Packers on AllGreenBayPackers.comFollow Jason Perone: