The Detroit Lions Then and Now: Kicking and Punting

Then and Now is a SideLion Report mini-series in which we look at each position group from the 0-16 season of 2008 and compare it to the current roster.

If there are two players from the 2008 Detroit Lions that don’t deserve blame for an 0-16 season, it’s Jason Hanson and Nick Harris. Hanson missed just one field goal on the year and Harris had a healthy punting average near 44 yards per kick. Here are the stats:

Tot PAT Punting
Pos G FGA FGM FG% XPA XPM XP% Pnt Yds Lng Y/P
Nick Harris P 16 90 3952 66 43.9
Jason Hanson K 16 22 21 95.5% 26 25 96.2%
Team Total 16 22 21 95.5% 26 25 96.2% 90 3952 66 43.9
Opp Total 16 29 25 86.2% 62 62 100.0% 59 2572 43.6
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/17/2011.

 With the kicking game outpacing the rest of the team’s performance, it isn’t surprising that this is the only area of the roster that wasn’t blown apart. By and large, Hanson and Harris have rewarded the front office for their loyalty by continuing with the kind of performances commiserate with a respectable NFL team.

The stats will show that Jason Hanson missed two field goals prior to his season ending injury. While that is true, it is important to remember that one of those was the final play of the first half in Green Bay – a kick that Jim Schwartz later admitted was a mistake to even attempt. Dave Rayner‘s percentage was a tad lower than Hanson’s but he made some important kicks in the final games of the season and was as important as anyone in ending the franchises road losing streak with their victory in Tampa. Nick Harris performed with amazing consistency, check out the 2010 stas and compare them to his stats up above:

Tot PAT Punting
Pos G FGA FGM FG% XPA XPM XP% Pnt Yds Lng Y/P
Nick Harris P 16 90 4018 66 44.6
Jason Hanson 8 14 12 85.7% 19 19 100.0%
Dave Rayner K 8 16 13 81.3% 16 16 100.0%
Ndamukong Suh*+ LDT 16 1 0.0%
Team Total 16 30 25 83.3% 36 35 97.2% 90 4018 66 44.6
Opp Total 16 20 19 95.0% 42 42 100.0% 83 3635 43.8
Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/17/2011.

Where do the Lions go from here? Well, there really isn’t any reason to consider a change from Nick Harris in the next few years so we’ll leave him alone. I don’t tend to be overly sentimental but I do hold a special place for Jason Hanson in my heart given the crap he’s had to endure as a career-Lion. The man is humble and gentle and deserves to attempt some meaningful kicks. If for some reason Hanson can’t continue with his career, I have confidence in Dave Rayner, for this year at least. There is a reason that Rayner has bounced around since leaving Michigan State. He lacks some consistency and I think the Lions could do better in the long term.

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Tags: Dave Rayner Detroit Lions Jason Hanson Nick Harris

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