Craig: Field-goal accuracy begs question — should goal posts be narrowed?

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 11, 2013 - 11:56 AM
hide

Vikings kicker Blair Walsh is second all-time in accuracy, making 90.8 percent of his kicks to trail only Justin Tucker of Baltimore, who has hit 92.2 percent of his attempts. Walsh has hit 12 of 14 kicks from beyond 50 yards.

Photo: Jeff Wheeler, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

NFL kickers are becoming so accurate that there is talk of changing the width of the goalposts.

Chances are you’ve never heard of him, but Ward Cuff was quite the NFL placekicking weapon from 1937 to 1947.

Representing the New York Giants, Chicago Cardinals and Green Bay Packers, the Redwood Falls, Minn., native led the league in field goals made four times and field goal accuracy twice.

In 1943, he led both, going 3-for-9 for 33.3 percent. Not bad for someone whose main duty was playing wingback in the Giants’ single-wing offense. The league average that year was 23.5 percent (16 of 68).

In 1967, Jan Stenerud began a 19-year career with the Chiefs, Packers and Vikings. To this day, he’s the only Pro Football Hall of Famer who was exclusively a kicker. His career percentage of .668 ranks 112th in league history.

An NFL goalpost has been 18 feet, 6 inches wide since the league was founded in 1920. But the guys kicking footballs through them certainly have changed. In fact, they’ve changed so much that many people around the league believe it’s only a matter of time before the NFL narrows the goalposts to reduce the expanding range of chip shots and increase the number of times teams go for it on fourth down.

“I think that’s probably something that will be talked about in the offseason,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “I know it’s been talked about in the past. That’s probably something that could be coming down the road.”

Thirteen of the top 14 most accurate kickers in NFL history are active. The top two are second-year players Justin Tucker from Baltimore (92.2 percent) and the Vikings’ Blair Walsh (90.8).

“Snappers and holders are as good as ever,” Walsh said. “And kickers are specializing at an earlier age. I started kicking my sophomore year in high school, the same year I started getting specially trained in just kicking. I didn’t play any other position.”

Stenerud made 17 of 64 attempts from 50 yards or longer in 263 games. Walsh has made 12 of 14 in 28 games, including an NFL-record 10 without a miss as a rookie.

Walsh and his contemporaries enjoy numerous modern advantages, including better field conditions and more domed stadiums. They are making the most of them, too.

In 2011, there were a then-record 90 successful 50-yard field goals. In 2012, that record became 92. This year, the pace is set for 95.

The Broncos’ Matt Prater made a 64-yarder in Denver on Sunday. It broke the NFL mark of 63 yards that had been tied only three times since Tom Dempsey set it 43 years ago.

But how long can we expect Prater’s record to stand? A year ago, St. Louis’ Greg Zuerlein — aka “Legatron” — had plenty of distance on a 66-yard attempt that was wide right.

Even with this year’s record-breaking pace of 50- and 60-yarders, the league has a combined field goal accuracy percentage of .856 (693 of 810). That would break the record of .845 (845 of 1,000) set in 2008.

“If the percentages stay the way they are, I would not be surprised at all to see the league narrow the goalposts,” Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said. “It seems like they don’t want the game to get too easy. And that’s the trend for these young kickers.”

The league already tried doing something with the ball 14 years ago when it introduced the K-ball, which prevented kickers from doctoring the ball to make it easier to kick. Kickers complained but overcame.

“Narrowing the goalposts would not be the smart thing to do, and I don’t think they’ll do it,” Walsh said. “Quarterbacks are throwing for more yards than they ever have. Are we going to start letting the defense use 12 or 13 players to stop them?”

But what if the league does narrow the goalposts?

“If they’re smaller, they’re smaller for everybody,” Walsh said. “We practice with narrower goalposts. So I do think it would be a mistake, but, hey, as long as the middle is still there, you can hit it.”

 

Mark Craig • mark.craig@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Vikings Rewind: Jacoby Jones' 77-yard kickoff return

    Wednesday December 11, 2013

    We look back at the Vikings' fourth quarter decision to short kick to Ravens kickoff returner Jacoby Jones, who scored on the 77-yard return.

  • Net worth of Wilfs soon could be revealed

    Tuesday December 10, 2013

    In New Jersey, Vikings owners are expected to learn what they will have to pay former partners.

  • Mark Craig's Week 15 Power Rankings

    Tuesday December 10, 2013

    mark craig’s power rankings1. Patriots 10-32. Broncos 11-23. 49ers 9-44. Seahawks 11-25. Saints 10-36. Chiefs 10-37. Bengals 9-48. Eagles 8-59. Panthers 9-410. Cardinals 8-511. Dolphins 7-612. Ravens 7-613. Bears 7-614. Lions 7-615. Chargers 6-716....

  • Chart: Kickers are on record pace

    Tuesday December 10, 2013

    KICKING TO RECORD HEIGHTSNFL kickers are on pace this season to break the combined field goal accuracy record of 84.5...

  • NFL Draft Order (Week 14): Vikings jump to fourth

    Tuesday December 10, 2013

    The Vikings suffered a brutal 29-26 loss to the Ravens on Sunday, but their draft selection did improve over the weekend.

  • Broncos kicker Matt Prater, left, celebrated his NFL-record 64-yard field goal with holder Britton Colquitt against the Titans on Sunday in Denver. He beat the NFL record, shared by four others, by 1 yard.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Dallas 6:00 PM
Orlando
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Indiana
Toronto 6:00 PM
Washington
Houston 6:30 PM
Detroit
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Atlanta
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Memphis
Portland 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
San Antonio
Charlotte 8:00 PM
Denver
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 0 1st Prd 1:01
Montreal 0
NY Islanders 1:00 PM
Detroit
Arizona 2:00 PM
Ottawa
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Boston
Florida 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Dallas 6:00 PM
Winnipeg
Columbus 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Calgary
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Boston College 39 2nd Half 5:21
Clemson 55
Western Mich 49 2nd Half 6:56
Eastern Mich 56
NC State 52 2nd Half 7:23
Georgia Tech 58
Wisconsin 65 2nd Half 2:57
Iowa 57
Stony Brook 42 2nd Half 3:20
New Hampshire 60
Notre Dame 63 2nd Half 5:23
Pittsburgh 63
Providence 51 2nd Half 9:36
St Johns 57
Davidson 47 2nd Half 10:41
Saint Josephs 53
Xavier 62 2nd Half 9:12
Seton Hall 63
Tulane 32 2nd Half 5:12
Temple 47
Auburn 43 2nd Half 12:44
Tennessee 45
Texas Tech 36 2nd Half 12:36
West Virginia 53
Arkansas 22 1st Half 5:14
Florida 20
Penn State 18 1st Half 7:56
Illinois 18
Lipscomb 22 1st Half 6:10
Stetson 22
South Florida 21 1st Half 4:47
Tulsa 23
Bradley 17 1st Half 7:37
Indiana State 16
UMass Lowell 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Green Bay 1:00 PM
Cleveland State
Georgetown 1:00 PM
Creighton
Coll of Charleston 1:00 PM
Delaware
Villanova 1:00 PM
DePaul
Arkansas State 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Vermont 1:00 PM
Hartford
TCU 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Kennesaw St 1:00 PM
Jacksonville
Kansas State 1:00 PM
Kansas
Boston Univ 1:00 PM
Lehigh
Illinois State 1:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago
Albany 1:00 PM
Maine
Butler 1:00 PM
Marquette
LSU 1:00 PM
Miss State
Mount St Marys 1:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Richmond 1:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Virginia Tech 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
IUPU-Ft Wayne 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Loyola-Maryland 2:00 PM
Army
Tenn Tech 2:00 PM
Belmont
Bethune-Cookman 2:00 PM
Florida A&M
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
Ill-Chicago
UAB 2:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Idaho State 2:00 PM
North Dakota
Evansville 2:05 PM
Drake
Rutgers 2:15 PM
Indiana
Ball State 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
UNC-Wilmington 3:00 PM
Drexel
Coastal Carolina 3:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Howard
William & Mary 3:00 PM
James Madison
North Carolina 3:00 PM
Louisville
Coppin State 3:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Ole Miss 3:00 PM
Missouri
Wichita State 3:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Loyola Marymount 3:00 PM
Pacific
Winthrop 3:00 PM
Radford
George Washington 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Bryant 3:00 PM
Robert Morris
Long Island 3:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Fair-Dickinson 3:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Saint Louis
Georgia 3:00 PM
South Carolina
Central Conn St 3:00 PM
Wagner
SIU Edwardsville 3:15 PM
Eastern Ill
Ohio 3:30 PM
Central Mich
Eastern Ky 3:30 PM
Morehead State
Incarnate Word 3:30 PM
Nicholls
Campbell 3:30 PM
UNC-Asheville
Vanderbilt 3:30 PM
Texas A&M
South Alabama 4:00 PM
ULM
Western Carolina 4:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Detroit 4:00 PM
Milwaukee
Idaho 4:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Marshall 4:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Jackson State 4:30 PM
Miss Valley St
Houston Baptist 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Louisiana 4:30 PM
Texas State
Denver 4:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 4:30 PM
South Dakota
Texas 5:00 PM
Baylor
Citadel 5:00 PM
Chattanooga
Fresno State 5:00 PM
Colorado State
Yale 5:00 PM
Cornell
Ark-Pine Bluff 5:00 PM
Grambling St
Nebraska 5:00 PM
Minnesota
Hampton 5:00 PM
Norfolk State
Purdue 5:00 PM
Northwestern
Alabama A&M 5:00 PM
Prairie View
Dartmouth 5:00 PM
Princeton
Pepperdine 5:00 PM
St Marys-CA
NC A&T 5:00 PM
Savannah State
Delaware State 5:00 PM
SC State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Southern Miss
Nevada 5:00 PM
Wyoming
Akron 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
Colgate 6:00 PM
Bucknell
FIU 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Brown 6:00 PM
Columbia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Duquesne
NC Central 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Iona
Alabama 6:00 PM
Kentucky
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Lamar
Char Southern 6:00 PM
Liberty
Hawaii 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
New Orleans 6:00 PM
McNeese State
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Navy
Elon 6:00 PM
Northeastern
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Harvard 6:00 PM
Penn
La Salle 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Furman 6:00 PM
Samford
TX A&M-CC 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Duke 6:00 PM
Virginia
Mercer 6:00 PM
Wofford
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
North Florida
Longwood 6:00 PM
Presbyterian
Ark-Little Rock 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC Riverside
Towson 7:00 PM
Hofstra
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Murray State
San Jose St 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Rice 7:00 PM
North Texas
Toledo 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Oklahoma 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
San Francisco 7:00 PM
San Diego
Utah State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
UCF 7:00 PM
SMU
Southern Ill 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Troy 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Jacksonville St 7:30 PM
Tennessee St
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Stanford 7:30 PM
Washington St
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
BYU
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Middle Tennessee 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Weber State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Chicago State 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Memphis 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Air Force 9:00 PM
UNLV
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Seattle 9:00 PM
CS-Bakersfield
Montana State 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Colorado 9:30 PM
UCLA
UMKC 9:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Mount St Marys 64 FINAL
Sacred Heart 71
Texas-El Paso 35 2nd Half 11:54
Middle Tennessee 50
Arkansas State 50 2nd Half 6:35
Georgia State 41
Bethune-Cookman 12:00 PM
Florida A&M
Bryant 22 1st Half 5:09
Robert Morris 35
Central Conn St 39 2nd Half
Wagner 26
Fairleigh Dickinson 31 1st Half 3:26
St Francis-PA 28
Long Island 20 1st Half 6:16
St Francis-NY 23
Longwood 21 1st Half 4:18
Campbell 30
Charleston Southern 9 1st Half 5:27
Winthrop 20
Louisiana Tech 21 1st Half 3:45
Marshall 16
Ohio U 23 1st Half 3:54
Central Michigan 23
Western Mich 28 1st Half 0:19
Miami-Ohio 26
Coppin State 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Incarnate Word 1:00 PM
Nicholls
Samford 1:00 PM
East Tenn St
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
Furman
UNC Greensboro 1:00 PM
Wofford
Gardner-Webb 1:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Liberty 1:00 PM
High Point
Morgan State 1:00 PM
Howard
Presbyterian 1:00 PM
UNC-Asheville
Kent State 1:00 PM
Akron
Northern Ill 1:00 PM
Ball State
Houston 1:00 PM
Cincinnati
SIU-Edwardsville 1:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Eastern Kentucky 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
American Univ
Army 1:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Niagara 1:00 PM
Manhattan
Lehigh 1:00 PM
Boston U
Navy 1:00 PM
Lafayette
Saint Josephs 1:00 PM
Davidson
Duquesne 1:00 PM
Fordham
George Washington 1:00 PM
George Mason
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Massachusetts
Milwaukee 1:00 PM
Youngstown St
Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Kennesaw St
North Florida 1:00 PM
USC Upstate
Buffalo 1:30 PM
Eastern Michigan
St Marys-CA 2:00 PM
Pepperdine
Nebraska Omaha 2:00 PM
IUPUI
Houston Baptist 2:00 PM
Sam Houston St
Mercer 2:00 PM
(25) Chattanooga
No Dakota State 2:00 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Southern Miss 2:00 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
UAB
East Carolina 2:00 PM
Tulane
South Florida 2:00 PM
Memphis
New Mexico St 2:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Utah Valley U 2:00 PM
UMKC
Jackson State 2:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Louisiana 2:00 PM
Texas State
South Alabama 2:00 PM
ULM
Saint Louis 2:00 PM
Dayton
Cleveland State 2:00 PM
Oakland
Grand Canyon 2:05 PM
Chicago State
UCLA 2:30 PM
Oregon
Washington St 2:30 PM
(12) Stanford
Kansas State 3:00 PM
Texas Tech
UNLV 3:00 PM
Air Force
UCF 3:00 PM
Tulsa
Delaware State 3:00 PM
SC State
San Diego State 3:00 PM
Utah State
Sacramento St 3:00 PM
Montana
Portland State 3:00 PM
Montana State
Northern Colorado 3:00 PM
Weber State
Hampton 3:00 PM
Norfolk State
NC A&T 3:00 PM
Savannah State
Alabama A&M 3:00 PM
Prairie View
Toledo 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Ark-Pine Bluff 3:00 PM
Grambling
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
Marist 3:00 PM
Iona
Bucknell 3:00 PM
Colgate
North Dakota 3:00 PM
Idaho State
Ark-Little Rock 3:30 PM
Georgia Southern
BYU 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Gonzaga 4:00 PM
Portland
Pacific 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Abilene Christian 4:00 PM
Lamar
Colorado State 4:00 PM
Fresno State
New Mexico 4:00 PM
San Jose St
UC Davis 4:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 4:00 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 4:00 PM
McNeese State
TX A&M-CC 4:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Old Dominion 4:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Tenn Tech 4:00 PM
Belmont
Eastern Washington 4:00 PM
Idaho
Stetson 4:00 PM
Lipscomb
Washington 4:30 PM
California
USC 4:30 PM
(7) Oregon State
IUPU-Ft Wayne 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Northwestern St 4:30 PM
SE Louisiana
SE Missouri St 4:30 PM
Austin Peay
Columbia 5:00 PM
Brown
Charlotte 5:00 PM
FIU
(19) Princeton 5:00 PM
Dartmouth
Penn 5:00 PM
Harvard
UT Martin 5:00 PM
Murray State
Troy 5:00 PM
TX-Arlington
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Jacksonville St 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Nevada
Oklahoma St 6:00 PM
Iowa State
CS-Bakersfield 6:00 PM
Seattle
La Salle 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Cal-Irvine 6:00 PM
Cal Poly
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Green Bay 7:00 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
Long Beach St
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Hawaii
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close