Matt Stover—Mr. Automatic, Mr. Raven, Mr. Nice-Guy—is still kicking around town. Keeping limber and keeping the phone line open.
It prompted one notoriously brusque, Calvert Street sports scribe to suddenly wax nostalgic (Stover and Harbaugh Keeping in Touch), asking why Stover hasn’t been re-signed by the Ravens yesterday? We’re reminded Matt still owns the second-best field goal percentage in NFL history. (Umm, actually Big Guy, it’s third, at 83.82%, trailing Mike Vanderjagt’s 86.47% and Shayne Graham’s 85.39%.) We’re asked to also not forget Matt’s all-time record of 38 consecutive games with a field goal made.
Okay, great. And Johnny Unitas still owns the record for consecutive games with a TD toss. Does that mean…well, you get the idea, right?
It’s presumed that short kick offs are what put Mr. Automatic out to pasture. But Mr. Mojo peers deeper and sees more. More reasons why a former special teams coordinator turned head coach would opt for a change in 2009.
First there’s the fact that Mr. Automatic nearly describes the entire profession. The percentage of NFL field goals made keeps going up each year. Up to 86% in 2008—better than the career average of one Matt Stover. His average of 82% for 2008 put him at eighth worst among kickers with 20+ attempts.
Then there is the question of what’s clutch when it comes to field goals? Many argue it’s nailing a kick with the clock approaching zero. Mr. Mojo argues it’s connecting on longer kicks, from 40-49 yards out. The league average from 40-49 yards over the last three seasons is 84%. Matt connected on just 68% of his 28 attempts from that distance, and has been trending downward:
2006: 6 for 7 (86%), and 1 for 1 beyond 50
2007: 8 for 12 (67%), and 0 for 1 beyond 50
2008: 5 for 9 (56%), and 0 for 1 beyond 50
Pound-for-pound, Mr. Mojo is as nostalgic as the next guy. Put Matt into the Raven’s Ring of Honor. Just don’t put him in uniform in 2009.