As any coach will tell you, the most important phase of the team may be the special teams. They determine field position for the offense and the defense and can put points on the board. For the Green Bay Packers they have a great special teams that is led by their kick/punt returner Randall Cobb. However, the kicking game with place kicker Mason Crosby has struggled this season.
Crosby was drafted by the Packers in 2007 and he has been one of the best kickers in the league ever since. This season though was a different story for Crosby, as he had the most missed field goals in the league. Not only was he missing field goals, he was missing them badly. After the Minnesota Vikings game in Week 13, there were questions on whether or not head coach Mike McCarthy would have tryouts to get a new kicker. McCarthy though has stayed loyal to his kicker and has let him work through his problems, something that Crosby has appreciated greatly.
“I’ve known since I’ve been here that I’m in a special place,” said Crosby. “I’m doing a lot of good things here and I’ve done a lot in the past and I want to continue to do that. The relationships that we’ve formed here as a team, I don’t think you get that very many places.”
McCarthy knows that with kickers they need to be more mentally prepared than any other player on the field. They are the only position that sits on the sideline for just a few opportunities a game. Not only do they play sparingly, but they also have time to think about what they are doing before doing their job. Most other players on the field play instinctively and don’t have time to think. The mental state of a kicker needs to be protected and bringing in another kicker might have shattered any confidence Crosby had. The thought of bringing in another kickers was also something Crosby didn’t view as extra motivation.
“I have plenty of motivation. This is what I do for a living. This is what I love to do,” he said. “I look at my teammates every day. I didn’t have to look at another kicker to say I want to make kicks, I want to get my job done. I look at the guys in this locker room and the group of guys that I get to come to work with very day, and that was enough motivation for me.”
Now after making four kicks in a row, including a 40-yard field and 51 yard-field goal last weekend, Crosby seems to have put his problems behind him for the most part. Last week was in a dome and now the Packers will be home at Lambeau Field where the weather is expected to be cold and blustery, which only makes field goal attempts even harder. Only time will tell if Crosby will be able to face those challenges in the NFL playoffs.
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