Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions kicker David Akers (2) kicks a field goal during the second quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
A kicker’s production is often the easiest to quantify of any position. The only outcomes are make/miss, and even complicating that binary with the “blocked” category doesn’t change things up too terribly. More to the point, a kicker’s stats are almost entirely indicative of individual performance, so this is actually somewhat important. Akers is 12-for-15 on field goals this season, for a percentage of 80 percent. That’s not perfect or anything, but Jason Hanson’s career percentage was 82.4 percent, so Akers is about on pace for where Lions fans expect. More importantly, he’s kicking much better than he did in his disastrous 2012 campaign.
Akers has missed only three field goals, which isn’t bad. But he missed two against Arizona, in a game the Lions lost by four points. Then he missed one against Cincinnati, in a game the Lions lost by three. In other words, Akers’ misses have loomed large on the Lions’ season.
Now, the kick in Cincinnati was blocked cleanly, and it’s doubtful Akers himself could have done anything about that (it seemed to be a result of a missed assignment stemming from injuries on the offensive line), but it still turned out to be the difference in the game. That’s really unfair to do to kickers, but when their jobs on the field are so esoteric already, small instances yield big criticisms. As it were, the Lions are 0-2 in games where Akers misses a field goal, and he doesn’t have the benefit of a clutch game-winner to balance it out.
That said, we can use the same logic in the following way: Akers made a field goal against Dallas, and the Lions won by one point. No Akers field goal, no epic comeback. So yeah, bottom line, he’s been all right. No real signature moments one way or another, just lots of stuff to nitpick unfairly. It doesn’t help his grade that he’s not handling kickoffs, though.
It was going to be difficult for anyone to take over for the incomparable Jason Hanson, and it’s fair to say that Akers won’t be handling the position for 21 years like Hanson did. But as a solution for a year or three, Akers is doing just fine, and any concerns about his lackluster 2012 season should have been quelled after he hit his second 50-yard field goal on the season.
Akers has been just fine. He’s not blowing anybody away, but he can still kick from distance and with accuracy. He’s squarely above-average. It was a bit of a surprise to find that Akers was going to be a pure field goal specialist, but at that job, he has performed admirably. It’s not his fault he was overtaken by this next guy…