Alright, in the run-up to Sunday night's prime time matchup with very little playoff implications (flex scheduling my ass), I've been studying my ass off. I don't know why, maybe I'm just hyped up cause I really believe this Seahawks team is one of the better teams I've watched play in recent history, all with a rookie Mike and a rookie QB.
I'll get straight to the point-once again, I was searching through the stats today, and this time I took a look at special teams. Special teams stats are kinda hard to interpret, and they can be interpreted a few differant ways. For instance, you might think that a punter that has the highest average punt distance is a great punter. That may be true, but that also means that he has a hell of a lot of room to kick, which means his offense isn't moving the ball very well. So from a team perspective, although the punter is doing well, the rest of the team may not be.
Anyway, on to my main point - Steven Haushcka. I think thats how you spell his name anyway. I'm really sorry dude, I'm normally big on names, but I can never spell yours right.
I've maligned this kid alot. I'm not gonna lie, when he got onto the team last year, I didn't think much of him. I was surprised we didn't draft or pick up a kicker in free agency with a bigger leg. I knew the kick against Atlanta last year wasn't going in, theres maybe three or four kickers in the league that can make that kick (63 yards?), and even then it's about 50-50 at best.
But, he missed quite a few kicks that I thought were very make-able. Not that he pulled a Baltimore Ravens' Billy Cundiff, that cost us a trip to the Super Bowl, but a couple games might have been decided by a kick or two, especially this year.
So while cruising the special teams stats I took a look at Hauschka's numbers. I was expecting something quite differant.
The kid is PERFECT inside of 50 yards.
Think about that for a minute.
Olindo Mare (who I thought was a great kicker...maybe I was wrong?), in his last year with us (2010) missed two field goals inside 30 yards. He was also 5-7 from 40-49 yards, for a grand total of 24/28 inside 50 yards. I thought those were pretty good numbers until I looked at Haushcka's.
Now Haushcka isn't Sebastian Janikowski. I don't think anyone expects him to be. But if he is consistant inside of 50 yards, that's telling Russell Wilson, the rookie - "Hey, If I get it to the 30 yard line, we're gonna get points." What a load off of Wilson's shoulder's that must be.
I don't know what classifies a place kicker as "elite" or not. In my opinion, asking your place kicker to reliably kick field goals of over 50 yards is alot to ask. It also means you're not moving the ball well, and not getting touchdowns. I would much rather have a kicker that is perfect inside of 50 yards than one that can bomb one in from 60 every once in a while. Janikowski is 6 of 9 from 50-plus. Greg Zuerline is 7 of 12 from 50 plus. Even the elite kickers aren't a given from those ranges.
I could write up a whole other page on Jon Ryan, but we already know that Canadian is a stud. In short, I think I would rather have an elite punter than an elite kicker, but I think both our guys are both pretty damn good.
Edit-So I decided to include a little list of the top 10 kickers in the nfl(I know I said 20 but...bleh) and whether or not they kick in a dome. Now figuring out how to rank the kickers is hard enough-Made field goals versus attempts? Just because you make more field goals doesn't mean your a better kicker, in my opinion. I think that successful kick percentage is more meaningful than total field goals made, because if you kick 20 field goals from the 5 yard line, that doesn't mean squat.
So here we go-(note all stats from espn.com)
1-Kai Forbath, Washington 15/15, 100 pct. Long-50yards
2-Phil Dawson, Cleveland 26/27, 96.3 pct. Long-52 yards
3-Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh 26/27, 96.3 pct. Long-52 yards
4-Rian Lindell, Buffalo 20/21, 95.2 pct. Long-50 yards
5-Dan Bailey, Dallas 27/29, 93.1 pct. Long-51 yards(Dome)
6-Justin Tucker, Baltimore 25/27 92.6 pct. Long-56 yards
7-Josh Scobee, Jacksonville 22/24 91.7 pct. Long 50 yards
8-Sebastian Janikoski Oakland 29/32 90.6 pct. Long 57 yards
9-Blair Walsh Minnesota 29/32 90.6 pct. Long 55 yards(Dome)
10-Alex Henery Phillidelphia 25/28 89.3 pct. Long 49 yards.
12-Steven Hauschka 22/25 88 pct. Long 52 yards.
So I'm not claiming this to be the leading resource on kickers or anything, but by this metric, Hauschka stands up nicely against the other top kickers in the league, of which only 2 are playing in domes(surprise!!) You can almost throw out Kai Forbath's number 1 spot due to his small sample size, but either way Hauschka is just outside the top 10. Also, several of the kickers in the list have missed 1 or 2 extra points. I didn't look and see whether they were blocks or misses. But extra points don't usually come back to bite ya in the A** the way a missed field goal or two can.
All these kickers in this list are nearly automatic, and most of them dont kick from more than 50 yards very often. I think this supports the argument that Hauschka is a borderline elite kicker, even if he doesn't have the distance some of the other guys do. Hauschka is also young and cheap, just the way Seattle likes its players.