Sunday, November 24, 2013
Janikowski missing the mark with aplomb
By Paul Gutierrez
OAKLAND -- There was an empty can of Copenhagen long cut sitting in his locker, along with a three-quarter-filled spit cup. A can of Red Bull energy drink was present, as well as a full bottle of water, an empty Gatorade bottle, a spoiled banana peel and another, unpeeled banana.
Sebastian Janikowski has now missed seven field goals this season.
To be fair, Janikowski is rarely, if ever at his locker during media access periods. But to be true, it marked at least the third game this season the usually dependable Janikowski had misses that cost the Raiders dearly, along with the season opener at Indianapolis and the Matt Flynn game against Washington.
"We're not making them, not consistently enough," said coach Dennis Allen. "We have to continue to work to get better there. I feel like Sebastian is going to work through this. I still have all the confidence that when I send him out there that it's going to go through.
"So it's just something that we have to go through and we have to get better in that area."
Fair enough, but Allen has been saying the same things since the opener against the Colts. And 11 games in, it no longer seems prudent for Janikowski to blame an unfamiliarity with first-year holder Marquette King for his shortcomings.
Yet that's exactly what Janikowski did during a mid-game "interview" with radio sideline reporter, and former teammate, Lincoln Kennedy. Janikowski told Kennedy he did not like the hold on one of his misses.
Janikowski shanked a chip-shot 32-yard attempt toward the northern end zone to close the first half. All six misses on the season had come from the left hash mark. It was his second miss from fewer than 40 yards of the year after making 85-of-86 from that distance the previous five seasons combined.
Then, Janikowski's 48-yarder midway through the third quarter, in the same direction but from the right hash, went high over the left upright and was ruled wide left.
Janikowski glared at King and then pleaded his case with the officials, to no avail.
Only in Oakland would a placekicker's troubles garner front-page news. Then again, it was Al Davis who used a first-round draft pick on Janikowski in 2000 when Jon Gruden preferred running back Shaun Alexander or receiver Sylvester Morris.
And Janikowski, 35, has gone on to become the franchise's all-time leading scorer and signed a four-year extension worth as much as $19 million.
He's been the Raiders' most dangerous weapon in recent years … just not since his long-time holder, Shane Lechler, left this offseason for Houston.
And while his 52-yarder in the first quarter was his second-longest of the season, behind the 53-yarder he hit against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 3, it also marked the first time since Nov. 26, 2010 he missed two field goals in a game.
It was the second time he had missed two since 2008.
Then there's this: Janikowski has missed as many field goals through 11 games this season (seven) as he did the previous two seasons combined.
Allen, though, was not about to throw all of the blame at the feet of Janikowski.
"I'd say it's a field-goal unit problem," Allen said. There's 11 guys out there; it's not all on one guy. We have to improve in that area -- snap, hold, kick, protection. The goal is to get the ball through the uprights, and there's 11 guys responsible for making sure that happens."
The last person to make contact with that ball, though, is Janikowski , and neither he nor the personal effects at his locker were talking.