Mason Crosby, the Green Bay Packers place kicker has probably been the most watched, scrutinized and criticized member of the team over the past 12-plus months. His implosion last year has been well-documented. His 63 percent conversion rate last year was the worst of his career.
Mike McCarthy got to the point last season where his only choice was to go for it on fourth down instead of trotting his field goal kicker onto the field, the media asked the usual questions and the team suffered.
And while team officials were losing confidence in him in private, they stuck with him through the depths of his slump. McCarthy, in public, said that it was just one of those things that kickers go through and that Crosby would be OK. They just needed to ride it out.
Well, little did us Packers fans know that McCarthy was right.
But it took a long time and much consternation to get to our current point of reference.
In fact, halfway through training camp – a camp where the Packers brought in competition to challenge Crosby – it didn’t look good for the Packer veteran. Giorio Tavecchio, an Italian-born kicker from Cal, seemed to be dominating the competition. When Crosby was outkicked in the Packers Family Night it looked like he may have had one foot out the door.
But then things turned. Crosby was nearly perfect in practice and he was looking good in the preseason games. He seemed to flick a switch and turn it on when he got into the depths of the competition. While Tavecchio was good, Crosby’s leg strength and renewed accuracy ruled the day.
But the Packers weren’t convinced yet. They brought in another kicker, Zach Ramirez, to amp up the competition, but that’s when Crosby really turned it on. First the team cut Tavecchio and then a day later – after Crosby dominated once again – they cut Ramirez.
But the rollercoaster ride still wasn’t over. He was asked and accepted to take a pay cut – a huge pay cut, $1.6 million, to be exact. And while he may be able to earn back most of the money he lost through incentives, it had to be a kick in the gut to the guy who had been the Packers main guy for so long.
So how has Crosby respond? Quite well, actually. Heck, he’s been nothing but perfect in three games. He is 4-for-4 so far this season, connecting on 19, 26, 28 and his long of 41 yards. He’s also converted 12-of-12 extra points and has scored 24 points.
so, has Crosby put the worst behind him? Well, if the first three games are any indication, he’s certainly seemed to have regained his confidence. However, with 13 more games to go, there will be plenty more opportunities for Crosby.
Stay tuned …