As I started to write this article and needed to find an image for the home page, a thought occurred to me: “Could there possibly be a picture of Rashaad Penny and Justin Tucker together?” I didn’t even search for it. Of course not, that would be insane. Literally, I think I’ll lose my mind if such a picture exists.
Penny is a rookie. He’s been in the league for five games. (Kinda). He’s a running back. He’s on the Seattle Seahawks.
Tucker is a veteran. He’s in his seventh season. He’s a kicker. He’s on the Baltimore Ravens.
The two players have never been on the same football field, as far as I could tell. So how could they possibly be linked together for this article? Just from the fact that I began to wonder, would I rather have Penny or Tucker on the Seahawks? It’s a weird thing to consider for a number of reasons, but most pertinent of all is that Tucker is a kicker. Penny is a running back. More important than Penny being a running back though is that Tucker is a kicker. A kicker. We aren’t supposed to care about those. Those guys don’t get drafted in the first round. (Unless you’re Seattle’s current kicker, who by the way was drafted 18 years ago.) Penny was just drafted in the first round.
How could a kicker ever be more valuable than a running back? I’m not sure we have the time to go over all the reasons we got here, but we got here.
A kicker, in some cases, seems to absolutely be more valuable than a running back. Even a good running back.
We can’t quantify how many games the Seahawks have lost in the last three years because of their running backs. I’m sure it’s more than zero, but given the value of the position today, it’s probably not that much more than zero. We can quantify how many games they’ve been losing because of their kickers though, and it’s too many.
A lot of other teams feel the same way. Finding a good kicker has become really hard to do and finding a good running back has not been that difficult. On Sunday, Mason Crosby missed four field goals (three from under 45 yards) and a PAT. And he’s one of the reliable ones. Many teams don’t have kickers that they feel they can count on beyond 50 yards, as we saw during the Steven Hauschka era.
The Eagles’ Jake Elliott is 0-for-2 on kicks beyond 40 yards. The Lions’ Matt Prater is 1-for-4 on those kicks. Arizona’s Phil Dawson hasn’t made a kick outside of 30 this year. (0-for-2, the Cardinals are terrible.) Finding a great kicker is really difficult.
And Tucker is the best kicker in the league. Maybe the best kicker in history.
Tucker is 12-for-14 with two uncharacteristic misses from under 50 yards — one was blocked by the Broncos and the other was blocked by the Browns. In his career, Tucker is 50-of-50 inside 30, 65-of-67 from 30-39, 63-of-71 from 40-49, and 36-of-50 from 50 and beyond. He’s got a long of 61 and he’s twice hit from 57. He is 217-of-217 on extra points.
How badly would you want Tucker on the Seahawks? Bad enough to swap your first round running back for him straight up? I proposed this question on Twitter and there were nearly 3,000 votes. The result was just like Justin Tucker from inside 30 yards: 50/50.
Now, some people responded with the idea that I was saying Seattle should trade Penny for Tucker. That’s not what the tweet was about at all. I was just curious if others would. It turns out that a lot of them would. A first round running back or a Hall of Fame kicker?
I don’t know what the right answer is, and I certainly don’t know that a right answer even exists, but I think it’s more than worthy of speculation. Great kicker or good running back...in the modern game, which would make you feel better about the Seahawks chances?