Saturday, January 30, 2010
By the decade: NFC West kickers
By Mike Sando
It's tough to go wrong with any of the leading kickers when selecting the NFC West's best from the first decade of the 2000s.
Jeff Wilkins (Rams) and Neil Rackers (Cardinals) each went to a Pro Bowl. Josh Brown (Seahawks, Rams) fought through tougher conditions playing in Seattle, making quite a few clutch kicks, including some from long range. The 49ers' Joe Nedney posted the highest field-goal percentage of the four while with San Francisco.
Wilkins made 20 of 24 attempts from 50-plus yards during the decade. Brown made 25 of 37. Rackers made 16 of 34. Nedney made 8 of 14.
Unable to identify a clear overall winner, I reached out to a couple veteran special-teams coaches around the league. Their basic thinking went like this:
- Wilkins kicked indoors with the Rams, a clear advantage, making it tough to compare him to the others. "I don't ever remember voting an indoor kicker to the Pro Bowl," one coach said, even though Wilkins did earn a Pro Bowl berth for the Rams during the decade.
- Rackers has a stronger leg than Brown.
- Brown was better in the clutch than Rackers, who faced little pressure playing for bad teams earlier in the decade.
- Nedney wasn't in the division as long as the others.
Brown emerges as the winner, but like I said, it's tough to go wrong picking from this group.