Hold On You’re Going Home: Part Three
A widely-known, but highly under-appreciated fact of life in the NFL is that kickers score the most points. Period. When looking at the list for the NFL’s all-time leading scorers the first non-kicker is Jerry Rice…and he’s 31st. Kicking is an essential part of NFL success, which is exactly why Alex Henery needs to be shown the door.
Selected in the fourth round out of Nebraska, Henery was considered an elite kicking prospect. He was the most accurate kicker in college history with a 89.5% conversion rate and was showered with awards over his four seasons as a Husker. The kid was good.
However, that success hasn’t translated to the NFL. In fact, Henery has regressed each season that he’s been in the league. His career kicking percentages are 88.9% (2011, 5th place), 87.1% (2012, 15th) and 82.1% (2013, 22nd). For 2013 specifically, Henery’s numbers took a dive due to struggles in the 40-49 yard range where he hit seven of ten.
So just how important is that decrease in field goal accuracy?
Over the span of Henery’s career there have been 170 regular season games which were decided by three points or less. Therefore, teams average roughly two games a year that are decided by a kick. That can be the difference between a wildcard home game or simply being at home. Given the potential for terrible things to happen at home, I’d much rather see the Eagles in the playoffs.
In addition to the raw points aspect of this, the kicker’s role in field position has greatly increased with the movement of kickoffs form the 30 to 35 yard line. Touchbacks are no longer a bonus, rather, they’re the expectation. If a kicker is unable to force the opposing offense to travel four-fifths of the field every drive than he’s significantly less valuable. Henery is such a kicker.
Henery allowed 52 returns on his kickoffs in 2013, which was the 5th worst in the league. He was behind Nick Novak, Shaun Suisham, Jay Feely and Phil Dawson. Those kickers are 32, 32, 37, and 39 respectively. Henery is 26 years old. Also, of those 52 returns the opponent gained 1,229 yards which was the third highest total in the league. For touchbacks, Henery totaled only 37 for the season—the 20th best total in the league—and a return prevention rate of only 42%.
Those are really bad numbers for the former first team All-American and it does not bode well for Henery’s future in Philadelphia. This is the last year of Henery’s contract and he may not be given the chance to play it out. While the free agent market for kickers is currently weak (Rob Bironas, Rian Lindell, Barney Gorman and David Akers) college kickers are easy to come by and rarely need to be drafted.
As a result, I’m expecting the Eagles to push Henery in camp with another young leg to make him earn his spot on the roster. However, if Henery continues to regress then the answer is pretty simple.
Posted on April 18, 2014, in Eagles, Posts, Vince Quinn and tagged 2014, alex henery, bill is a smelly smelly man, Chip Kelly, Eagles, kicking, nfl draft, Special Teams. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.