Arguably, for the second time this season, the Detroit Lions lost a game they should have won thanks mostly to the wobbly right leg of one of their kickers.
Sunday, it wasn’t necessarily that Alex Henery missed three kicks, one of which came with the game on the line, it was how he missed. One kick hit the upright and bounced back onto the field violently. The other two sailed well wide of their intended targets, and weren’t even close to going through.
If the eye test can tell the full story, consider Henery’s time in Detroit finished. That proved more true on Monday, when Henery got released. Detroit will now try their third kicker of the season.
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“We gotta find a performer. We got to get a guy who’s consistent under pressure and put points on the board. We gotta make certain we get the right guy for us,” Lions’ coach Jim Caldwell said when providing an update about what’s next for the kicking game.
Mentally, the kicker would never have be able to survive another week after the firestorm of boos and outrage hurled his way by the Ford Field crowd. When the kicker missed, even his quarterback Matthew Stafford seemed disgusted. The offense didn’t move Henery closer, but it’s not as if they asked him to make a 58 yard kick like Dan Carpenter, either.
Nearly half the league’s kickers have made 100 percent of their kicks from 40-49 yards. The worst kickers, statistically, still make 60-75 percent of these kicks, which is better than half. The distance is far from gimme range, but professionals find a way to get this job done the majority of the time.
Despite everything else that went wrong Sunday, from an inability to add points thanks to an offensive disappearing act to the defense appearing human at times, the Lions were still set up to win the game if their kicker could have made three field goals. That says something about the team. Particularly, Detroit’s been good enough this season to win games, even if they aren’t playing at their best offensively and defensively.
The Lions were still set up to win the game if their kicker could have made three field goals. That says something about the team. Particularly, Detroit’s been good enough this season to win games, even if they aren’t playing at their best offensively and defensively.
When has this last been the case for the Lions? Jason Hanson would have killed for such a reality just once in his career.
“I’m not a real big guy when it comes to ‘what if,'” Caldwell said about how the kicking game may have impacted both losses. “I deal with the facts. We are where we are.” Caldwell noted numerous other breakdowns which could have made a difference in winning and losing.
In spite of this, Martin Mayhew needs to realize the impact poor kicking has made, and end the frustration he’s created on special teams. Arguably, his team could be 5-0 if not for breakdowns in this department, making it imperative that he finds a solution to a frustrating problem. That solution seems to be the accurate Matt Prater, recently released by the Denver Broncos, who will work out for the Lions on Tuesday according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“We’ll consider all options,” Caldwell said when asked specifically about Prater, a player who had a run-in with the law recently and may command a larger payday.
The team should do more than consider the best kicker on the market. They should sign him and end the charade before the season gets out of hand. This edition of the Lions could prove too good in the end not to pull out all the stops.
“We’re not afraid to get this thing straightened out,” Caldwell said. “We owe it to our team, owe it to our fans.”
It’s time to prove it.