The Green Bay Packers (7-3) defeated the Detroit Lions (4-6) 24-21 Sunday afternoon in a close game that came down to the wire. Many would say the game should have never been as close as the final score suggests if only Green Bay placekicker Mason Crosby would have made the necessary field goals. Do the Packers have time to wait for Crosby to come around or should they sign free agent kicker Neil Rackers?
Crosby, who has been one of the better kickers in the NFL over the past five years, has missed seven of his last 13 field goal attempts and looks to be on a downward spiral. Considering Green Bay is already dealing with several key injuries and an offense that has been inconsistent at times, the last thing the Packers need is a kicker who cannot convert field goals.
Through 10 games, Crosby has made a career-low 66.7 percent of his attempts, which has given head coach Mike McCarthy very little confidence to use him from long range. On Green Bay’s first drive against Detroit, the Packers faced a fourth-and-4 in which would have been a 49-yard field goal attempt. McCarthy opted to go for it on fourth down instead of the field goal attempt because he felt his offense had a higher percentage of converting than Crosby did. Green Bay did not move the chains and turned the ball over on downs.
Later in the game, Crosby missed a 50-yard attempt wide right but was given a second chance after Lions head coach Jim Schwartz used a timeout. Crosby followed it up with a second attempt that missed wide left. The 28-year-old also did not convert a 38-yard attempt that would have tied the game in the second half. Crosby got an ear full from McCarthy once he reached the sideline.
Fans from around the world took to various social media sites to express their frustration by pleading for the Packers to cut Crosby after the game. However, McCarthy said after the victory that Crosby will be the team’s kicker and did not give any reason to believe Green Bay would bring in some competition this week.
“Mason has got to put the ball through the uprights,” McCarthy said. “That’s something we’ve got to do a better job of. I thought Mason had a very good week of work. Didn’t hit it today the way he needs to hit it. We will continue with Mason. We will not blink as far as our commitment to him.”
Several players were shown talking to Crosby on the Packers sideline to show their support for the six-year veteran. Those same players congratulated him as well after he converted a 39-yard attempt with 19 seconds left in the game.
On the front, Green Bay is showing confidence and support for Crosby. However, behind the scenes could tell a completely different story. The Packers have a chance to be No. 1 in the NFC North after Monday night and will have a great opportunity to make set up another legitimate postseason run in the ensuing weeks. There is no way general manager Ted Thompson is willing to bank the success of the team on an inconsistent kicker.
Green Bay must consider bringing in another kicker to give Crosby competition in practice or possibly even replace him if it comes to it. A solid placekicker that would be open for the job is Rackers. The 13-year veteran converted 84.2 percent of his field goal attempts with the Houston Texans last season and has not fallen below that mark on a season in four years.
Rackers was cut by the Washington Redskins in August and is currently unemployed. He no longer has a big leg like Crosby does but he certainly makes a much higher percentage of field goals, which is what the Packers need. There is a good chance bringing in Rackers will not solve the current crisis on special teams as there is no guarantee he can deliver. However, Green Bay must consider this option if Crosby continues missing kicks.
I fully expect the Packers to stick with Crosby a couple more weeks before making a decision to part ways with him. However, if he cannot pull it together soon Green Bay must bring in someone talented such as Rackers to take over kicking duties.
Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.