Outside of Sebastian Janikowski, what kicker has really gotten all that much publicity aside from winning a game on a field goal or pinning a team inside their own five yard line when the game is on the line? These are probably the two positions that are taken for granted most. Watching the game Sunday, however, Tim Masthay stood out.
Whether it was merely trial by fire or simply an experiment, the decision to have Masthay on kickoffs I believe will largely benefit the Packers this season. All of his kicks Sunday were at least to the deeper part of the end zone with maybe one actually being brought out. Thinking back to last season, it seemed as though Mason Crosby had a hard time teasing the goal line with his kicks. Masthay looked really good sending the ball deep and not even allowing for returns.
This would normally seem to be old hat looking at kickers around the league and how many returns they actually allow. Since the league moved kickoffs up to the 30 yard line citing player safety, the assumption was that kick returns would go down with a few league executives even considering the notion of doing away with kickoffs altogether.
On the surface, it seems as simple as moving the ball closer to the opponent’s end zone and being able to kick it deeper. For whatever reason, Crosby just couldn’t seem to kick the ball deep enough last year.
Anyway, am I saying Masthay will be winning awards for his kickoffs and punts?
What I am saying, however, is credit should be given where credit is due, and if Masthay can continue to kick like this throughout the entire year, it will help the Packers in more ways than one.