Shane Lechler was more than the best punter in the league. He was incredibly important in the kicking game, as we can see by the unsuccessful season of Sebastian Janikowski.
With the Lecher’s departure, Janikowski’s efficiency and production has plummeted. After making 31 of 34 field goals last year, Janikowski has made just seven of the 11 field goals he has attempted.
The importance of kickers in football cannot be undervalued. First of all, they usually score more points for a team than any other player. Putting points on the board wins games, and that is the duty of the kicker. How many games have been decided by kickers? Too many to count.
Kickers also take pressure off of the offense by rewarding them for moving down the field. When the offense fails to score a touchdown, the kicker can still make the drive worth something.
A bad kicker forces an offense to score a touchdown on every possession. That leaves the offense no room for error and creates situations in which the offense has no choice but to take otherwise unnecessary risks to score.
Of course, Sebastian Janikowski is no such kicker. He is capable of making a field goal from virtually anywhere on the field. Consistency had been his problem throughout his career and now, after a year without those issues, it is coming back to haunt him.
Some of the blame can be placed on the departure of Shane Lechler. His holding expertise proved itself valuable last season.
Janikowski and current punter and holder Marquette King have yet to find chemistry and its shown on the field. However, the missed field goals are not all attributed to this lack of chemistry. Janikowski needs to put past consistency issues behind him and start converting.
Seabass has the potential to be one of the best kickers in the league. If he can become more efficient with field goals, he will relieve pressure from Terrelle Pryor’s young, inexperienced shoulders, giving Pryor the comfort he needs to be successful.