In the Green Bay Packers last three games, they have suffered two losses. Against the Kansas Chiefs, they lost 13-7. Two weeks later, against the Minnesota Vikings at US Bank Stadium, they fell 34-31. Both losses were hard to swallow. Especially if you factor in that in both of those games, at the very least, the Packers could have pushed the game into overtime. The reason the Packers weren’t able to push those games to overtime came down to missed field goals. Missed or blocked field goals have grown all too consistent for the Packers this season. Because of that, veteran kicker Mason Crosby finds himself on the hot seat.
Mason Crosby Needs to Turn His Performance Around Fast
Franchise Legend Slowing Down
Veteran kicker Mason Crosby has been a mainstay for the Green Bay Packers special teams. Crosby, a former sixth-round pick of the Packers in 2007, has been the starting kicker for the past 15 seasons. During that time, Crosby has accumulated 1,755 points. That point total makes Mason Crosby the Packers all-time leading scorer.
Throughout Mason Crosby’s career, he has made some clutch kicks to push the Packers to victory. While he has been a kicker the Packers have been able to rely on, he has also struggled at times. In 2012, Crosby struggled mightily. That season, Crosby attempted 33 field goal attempts, making just 21 of them. However, even with his struggles, the Packers stuck with their veteran kicker. Eventually, Crosby figured things out and paid back the Packers for their patience.
Fast forward to this season, Mason Crosby and the Packers find themselves in a similar situation. With the Packers fighting to earn a top seed in this year’s playoffs, and possibly a trip to the Super Bowl, they will need to be able to have a dependable kicking game. If Crosby isn’t able to get out of his funk, the Packers will be forced to make a decision.
Backing of His Head Coach and Coordinator
In the past three games for the Packers, Mason Crosby has attempted six kicks, making just two of them. For the season, he has attempted 23 field goals, making just 15. At this point, Crosby has a 65.2 field goal percentage, one of the worst in the NFL.
However, even with carrying a poor field goal percentage, Crosby still has the backing of his special teams coordinator. Maurice Drayton, in his first season as the Packers special teams coordinator, has voiced his support of Crosby. In fact, he has stated that Crosby “deserves better.” The reference of “deserves better” stems from the Packers issues with blocking, snapping, and holding on Crosby’s field goal attempts. The statement would lead fans to believe that Crosby isn’t the driving force of the Packers field goal attempts failures.
Drayton isn’t the only person that has Crosby’s back. Head coach Matt LaFleur stated in a recent press conference that the Packers are “absolutely not” going to replace Crosby as their starting kicker. Having the backing of Drayton is one thing. But having the backing of the head coach solidifies Crosby’s spot even further.
Even with the backing of Drayton and LaFleur, Mason Crosby finds himself under a microscope. The additional attention, for a kicker, isn’t attention that Crosby wants or needs.
A Failure in Operation
Crosby isn’t the only one that is struggling to do his job. When LaFleur gave Crosby his vote of confidence, he also made a point to say that failure isn’t just on one person. The Packers overall kicking operation has also been a failure.
The protection on kicks has been a struggle for the Green Bay Packers special teams. That was on display against the Chiefs. On one occasion, defensive lineman Tyler Lancaster failed to seal the edge. His failure led to Crosby having his kick blocked. Pressure on field goals and extra-point attempts has been a struggle throughout the season.
Snapping and holds have also been an issue. Punter Corey Bojorquez has struggled to adjust as the Packers holder. In some situations, he has failed to spin the ball properly. That has forced Crosby to kick the ball with the laces facing towards him.
Some of Bojorquez’s struggles have come from the snaps on the kicks. When Steven Wirtel took over snapping duties from Hunter Bradley during this season, snaps were supposed to improve. However, that hasn’t been the case. Not only has Wirtel struggled to get the proper spin on his snaps, but last week against the Vikings, he also failed to get a proper spiral on one of his snaps. His snap came out similar to what you would see in a youth football game.
Still, it is Crosby’s job to kick the ball, no matter if things aren’t perfect. After 15 years, Crosby should be able to do that.
The Clock is Ticking for Crosby
There is no doubt that the Packers are banking on Mason Crosby to come out of his mid-season funk. But if he can’t, the Packers might be forced to make a move.
Currently, the Packers are carrying kicker JJ Molson on their practice squad. During training camp, Molson displayed a strong leg, something that is necessary when kicking in Green Bay. But unlike Crosby, he is unproven. Making a switch during the season might do more harm than good for the Green Bay Packers special teams.
Crosby has shown he can work his way out of a mid-season funk. But he needs to correct his issues quickly. The season is moving towards crunch time. If Crosby continues to falter, the Packers will be forced to make a decision.
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