Reaction to my column (http://pck.rs/Ww5r54) earlier this week on Mike McCarthy’s decision to send Mason Crosby out for a 55-yard field goal against the New York Giants last Sunday night was mixed.
My premise was that based on Crosby’s below average percentage on field goals from 50 yards and beyond (1 for 5 going into the game this season), McCarthy was taking an undue risk.
The miss gave the Giants the ball near midfield in a 7-7 game midway through the first quarter. They drove for a touchdown and never trailed again in a blowout 38-10 victory.
Here is a sampling of comments, pro and con, and afterward I’ll offer another point on coaching decisions when it comes to long field goals.
Bob Prchal: I agree wholeheartedly with your premise!! As mad as I was with the Line play, I was infuriated with McCarthy and his decision making. That can be applied to his play calling as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ben Jennejohn, Minneapolis, Minnesota: This article is a joke. Come on if you can't rely on your "NFL" kicker to go out there and attempt FG's 56yds and in, then honestly you need to cut ties and loook for someone else. I fully disagree with this article and back the coaching decision there. On the other hand I think the "Common" sense theme should be pointing toward questionable play calling and QB protection help.
Paul Sanderlin: Liked your article regarding the missed 55 yarder but I believe you didn't go far enough regarding McCarthy. He is a good coach but seems to have gotten to feel he is larger than life and arrogant. I base this on recent decisions and comments his has made. I believe the field goal attempt was arrogance on his part as a direct slap in the face of recent critics regarding Crosby to say "I'm in charge and big enough to will Crosby to make it." Instead he should have been a coach for the entire team and do what was best to win! I just get a sense he has gotten too big for his own good and not making the best decisions sometimes. Recently we have been hearing from various players more of "seems like we didn't have enough energy" or something of the sort. What is McCarthy not doing for this team? Earlier it was said the Packers played only up to their opponents ability, then they get blown out by the team who knocked them out last year and just seemed flat and had no fight.
Michael Ray: I think it’s funny that people continually criticize coaching decisions of successful coaches. He obviously has a plan and knows what he is doing based on his coaching record. Not every play will be a success and not every game plan, but it is the overall body of work that we must look at. He needs to give his kicker opportunity to kick if he wants to be able to use him in the playoffs. We will need a kicking game in the playoffs so if he can't get his kicker some confidence by then, these regular season games are for nothing anyways.
One more take on coaches and kickers
Here is one more observation I have about coaches and long field goal decisions:
McCarthy isn’t alone when it comes to having blind faith in his field goal kicker, as evidenced during games over the past week or so, and it makes me wonder what NFL head coaches are thinking sometimes.
*Tampa Bay was trailing by one point with just less than 4 minutes to play against Atlanta and attempted a 56-yard field goal rather than punt it and try to pin the Falcons deep in their own territory. The field goal was no good and with plenty of breathing room near midfield, the Falcons ran out all but a few seconds of the clock.
Had the Falcons been buried near the shadow of their own goalpost, they might have reined in their offense and been forced to punt, whch would have given the Bucs excellent field position.
*On Thanksgiving, Houston had a first down at the Detroit 28 in overtime and attempted three straight runs for minus 1 yard, in effect playing it conservatively and settling for a 51-yard field goal, which Shayne Graham missed.
Later in overtime, the Lions were guilty of falling into a similar “play it safe” trap. The Lions had a first down at Houston’s 28 and attempted two runs for minus-1 yard, settling for a 47-yard field goal attempt which Jason Hanson missed.
Instead of being satisfied with attempting a relatively long field goal, why don’t coaches keep pushing the ball up the field in an effort to give their kicker an easier, higher percentage kick?
My theory: if a turnover results in playing more aggressively, the coach will get the blame. But if a long field goal is missed, the kicker will get the blame.
*Not all long field goal attempts are ill-advised. Falcons coach Mike Smith sent Matt Bryant out to attempt a 55-yard field goal with a 7-point lead against New Orleans in the second half on Thursday night. Bryant made the kick and Atlanta pushed its lead to 10 points.
The difference between the 55-yarder that the Falcons tried and the one the Packers attempted against the Giants was in the percentages. Bryant has been perfect from beyond 50 yards this season (3 of 3) and was kicking indoors, while Crosby has been erratic from long range and currently is in the throes of a slump (1 of 6) and was kicking outdoors. Yes, Crosby has a big leg and is capable of making a long kick, but a coach must look at the situation and circumstances and not expose his team to unnecessary risk.