Was Cundiff a one year wonder?

Lombardi's Way Was Cundiff a one year wonder?

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So we’ve heard and read the reports that Billy Cundiff expected to receive harsher criticism after he duck-hooked the most important kick in his career and he’s appreciative of the moral support.

Really?

He hasn’t heard that his last name is now a verb?

Cundiff ~ (kun-dif), Verb: To misfire far to the left 

Cundiff got out of Dodge (aka Baltimore) when the season ended and headed back to Iowa and his field of dreams. Let’s face it, the Ravens kicker is doing exactly that – dreaming if he thinks there isn’t some pent up bile triggering heartburn amongst Ravens’ fans after witnessing one of the ugliest FGA’s in AFC Championship history.

Let’s just say the criticisms are on timeout. If Cundiff thinks for a second that following his first makeable field goal missed at M&T Bank Stadium in 2012 won’t trigger a Cut Cundiff Campaign, he’s sadly mistaken.

Fans are emotional that way and that’s why the cooler heads of personnel men at team headquarters are leaned on to be the collective voice of reason. That said, the Ravens’ brass would be making a huge mistake by not bringing in serious competition for Cundiff’s job.

The Ravens need to ratchet up the heat on Cundiff. He must be mentally challenged to see if he can stem the potentially devastating effects of that huge miss in Foxboro. But will a camp challenge be enough to give the Ravens the comforting feeling that Cundiff will return to his 2010 form when he established a record for touchbacks, hit on 26 of 29 FGA’s (90%) and made the trip across the pond for the Pro Bowl?

Was the 2011 season an aberration – one in which Cundiff hit on only 28 of 37 attempts to finish 29th among the 32 starting kickers in the league? Or was 2010 the real aberration? Here’s a snap shot of Cundiff’s last 3 seasons.

Category 

2009* 

2010 

2011 

Overall FGM/FGA 

18/23 (78%, 26**) 

26/29 (90%, 9) 

28/37 (76%, 29) 

Up to 29 yards 

9-9 (100%) 

11-11 (100%) 

9-9 (100%) 

30-39 

5-8 (63%) 

8-9 (89%)

10-12 (83%) 

40-49 

3-3 (100%) 

7-8 (88%) 

7-9 (78%) 

50+ 

0-2 (0%) 

0-1 (0%) 

1-6 (17%)

Touchbacks 

40 (1) 

44 (T-7) 

* Played in only 12 games

** League rank

Notes

  • The top 10 kickers in the league in 2011 hit on 91% of FGA’s between 30-39 yards; 86% of FGA’s between 40-49 yards; and 78% from 50+. Comparatively speaking Cundiff’s numbers were 83%, 78% and 17%.
  • Cundiff is 0 for 7 in FGA’s from the right hash mark over the past 3 seasons and he’s 1 for 9 in attempts 50+ yards
  • The 31 year old Cundiff did not play in 2007 or 2008
  • Cundiff is the 6th highest paid kicker in the NFL according to SportRac.com

CONCLUSION

Players sometimes get better and they can alter the course of their careers in the right environment, with the proper coaching and given the opportunity. Cundiff seemed to be one of those guys in 2010. But in 2011 he demonstrated some of the inconsistencies that plagued him earlier in his career. Part of that could be attributed to his well publicized calf injury that sidelined him for a game in Week 16.

The Ravens can’t ignore the evidence and they have to be mindful that a couple of early season misses in 2012 could trigger a mental meltdown for Cundiff. And let’s keep in mind that the depth of his kickoffs is not as big of a factor now that the line of scrimmage for kickoffs is the 35 yard line.

Add it all up and placekicker has to be an open battle for the Ravens. They can’t afford to stick their heads in the sand and hope that Cundiff returns to his Pro Bowl form.

The evidence just doesn’t support such a lazy approach.

 

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Tony Lombardi

About Tony Lombardi

Tony is 24x7 Networks, LLC's founder (the parent of EutawStreetReport.com and RussellStreetReport.com) His work has been featured on various sports websites and he is a regular guest on 105.7 The Fan and CBS Sports 1300. Among his favorite things in life are his wife, kids, family, friends, The Beatles, Breaking Bad, Gladiator, Guinness, Orange Crushes and Key West, not necessarily in that order. Follow Tony on Twitter @RSRLombardi. More from Tony Lombardi

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