Tyler Crapigna Deserves Blame
If Tyler Crapigna had come through in the clutch, the winless Saskatchewan Roughriders would instead be undefeated.
To be absolutely fair, his 45-yard miss in Montreal – which would have been enough to beat the Alouettes on opening night – was hardly a gimme. You expect your kicker to be just about automatic inside the 40 and the percentages drop steadily the further out you go. And his 33-yard overtime miss on Canada Day’s grand opening of the new Taylor Field (actually Mosaic Stadium but I hate corporate names) wasn’t a horrible kick either. He donked it off the upright and that happens. Unlucky for him, it cost the Roughriders a shot at tying or even winning against the Blue Bombers.
But to suggest that he shouldn’t shoulder the blame is also a mistake. The team is standing behind its kicker – as they should – who has been perfect on his other seven attempts this season. Many in the local media are defending Crapigna, saying a loss is never one player’s fault. But being either the hero or the goat is part of the kicker’s job. And in this case, Crapigna has to wear the horns. The Roughriders lost their first game ever at the new stadium on a Crapigna kick. It’s a big deal.
Adam Vinatieri doesn’t score big money contracts in the NFL if he doesn’t make clutch kicks over the four Super Bowl runs he helped the New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts through. Edmonton Eskimo star kicker Sean Fleming struggled early in his career but saved himself with clutch heroics, particularly in the ’92 playoffs against Saskatchewan. It’s one thing for a kicker to do it in practice, early in a game, or even regularly throughout the season. It’s completely another to do it when the game hangs in the balance. And so far this year, Tyler Crapigna has failed miserably in clutch situations.
Are We Getting Soft?
The beauty of pro sports is that this is where the big boys play. You’re not supposed to give out participation ribbons at this point. It’s okay to run up the score, it’s okay to idolize the star players, and it’s okay to point the finger at somebody who isn’t doing their job. If Jay Cutler can be labeled Jay Quitler for leaving a championship game injured in the NFL, then Tyler Crapigna can be pointed at for missing clutch kicks that have cost his team three points in the early season standings.
Paul McCallum had manure dumped on his lawn and was eventually run off the prairies for missing one critical kick so it’s fair game to expect the guy in there now to feel a little heat for missing a couple. Doesn’t he get to be the hero when he wins a game on the final play? It’s a two-way street.
Long time CKRM Roughrider radio broadcaster Geoff Currier once remarked, “Part of the problem with Saskatchewan learning to win is the fans and media don’t always put enough pressure on the team to perform.” It’s a period of mediocrity Rider fans wish could be forgotten. That doesn’t mean fans should be dumping manure on people’s lawns but it is okay to point out what isn’t right when the “W”s aren’t coming.
Saskatchewan head coach, general manager, defensive coordinator, and vice-president of football operations Chris Jones takes his bullets every week for being among the highest paid executives in the CFL to preside over a lot of losing football (five wins and 15 losses so far). Crapigna can face his share of the music too. It’s part of the job.
And if Tyler Crapigna would do his job right, the Riders and their fans would feel a whole lot better about their season than they do right now.