Friday, July 21, 2017

Kickers with the Soft Touch

By John Turney
Beginning in 1991 the NFL began to track the success rates of onside kicks. Sadly, no one has gone back to recover data from earlier generations so we could do a full analysis. Hopefully, the NFL, who is not (as we understand it) in negotiations with Elias Sports Bureau for the contract to handle the statistical matters for the NFL, will make backdating kicking and punting statistics part of the deal.

In the mean time, here are the leaders in onside kick success since 1991:
Neil Rackers is at the top and Jeff Wilkins is right behind him. Certainly, we understand a lot of things need to go right for a successful onside kick. Keeping the kickoff team onside is one thing, getting a good bounce is another, some luck in the bounce doesn't hurt. And the "hands" team has to fight for the ball if there is a scrum. But, it does seem some kickers, over the course of their career seem to have things go right about 40-50% of the time while many a great kicker have those things happen about half of that, perhaps 20-25% of the time. Jason Hanson seems particularly unlucky at 6 for 34 (17.6%) and Phil Dawson just below that at 15.6% (5 for 32). But John Kasay seems to be doing something wrong (1 for 29) for 3.4%.

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