Rams' Greg Zuerlein a breakout performer
By John Kryk, QMI Agency
|St. Louis Rams Greg Zuerlein, right, and Johnny Hekker, left, watch Zuerlein's franchise-record 60 yard kick go throughout the uprights against the Seattle Seahawks at the Edward Jones Dome on September 30, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images/AFP)
From how far out can “Legatron” make a field goal?
How’s 70 yards out, grab ya? Or even farther?
The Rams’ rookie placekicker, Greg Zuerlein, might possess that powerful a right leg.
He has played in the NFL for just five weeks, but already Zuerlein has become the first player in league history to boot two field goals of at least 58 yards in the same game.
Zuerlein did it in Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks – making kicks of 58 and 60, the longest two in Rams history. The field goals helped St. Louis win 19-13.
After Zuerlein nailed a 53-yarder high up into the netting in the Rams’ win over Arizona on Thursday night, he is now 13-for-13 on the season.
Four have been from 50+ yards out. That already ties a record for NFL rookies.
And it’s no fluke.
At Missouri Western State last fall, the 6-foot, 195-pounder led the nation in field goals per game (2.30) and broke the NCAA record for most consecutive field goals made, with 21.
He was 9-for-9 from 50+ yards out – a feat never before done in NCAA history.
The last time he missed a field goal from 50 yards out or more was in 2009, at the University of Nebraska Omaha, his first college. (He sat out the 2010 season, after which UNO shut down its football program.)
St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher is mighty impressed with Zuerlein. Fisher said he has “not seen anybody like Greg” in all his years in the NFL. That’s why the Rams selected Zuerlein with the first pick of the sixth round in April’s draft.
Fisher recounted his decision to have Zuerlein try that 60-yarder last Sunday:
“I was on the headsets and I said, ‘Field goal.’ And somebody said, ‘Field goal?’ I said, ‘Yeah, it’s only 60. It’s well within his range.”
So what exactly is Zuerlein’s range?
“Pretty deep,” said Rams special-teams coordinator John Fassel.
Fassel was asked if Zuerlein could kick a 65-yarder, which would be two yards longer than the NFL record.
“Yes, but keep that a secret so they don’t know our line,” Fassel said. “But our line’s pretty deep.”
A QMI Agency source says that line is at least 70 yards deep. Zuerlein has the leg to kick a 70-yard field in the right situation, the source said, and once before a game at Missouri Western State he believes Zuerlein nailed one from 74 yards out – 74!! – with a strong wind at his back.
If there’s a secret to Zuerlein’s success, besides the cannon hanging from his right hip, it’s that “he doesn’t kind of just tender-foot the short ones,” Fassel said, “and he doesn’t try to kill the long ones. Every one’s the same. He thinks he can make it and if we had the chance, he probably could.”
PKs high on accuracy
It’s time to narrow the goalposts. Or reduce the value of the field goal. Or give defenders paint guns.
At the quarter-pole, NFL placekickers have been successful on 89% of their field-goal attempts. Combined, they’re 233-of-261.
Half the kickers in the league (16) are perfect.
Only four kickers have missed more than two field goals – Washington’s Billy Cundiff (4), New England’s Stephen Gostkowski (3), Miami’s Dan Carpenter (3) and San Francisco’s David Akers (3).
It’s pretty much only the long attempts that kickers miss anymore. And not many of them.
For example, they’re all a combined 68-of-72 (94%) from 30 to 39 yards out. A generation ago, that was a good extra-point percentage.
Some additional perspective:
- Fifty years ago, the Hall of Fame Browns kicker Lou (The Toe) Groza made 45% of his field goals, and was 58% in his 18-year career.
- Twenty-five years ago, the great Gary Anderson made 82% of his kicks for the Steelers.
This year, NFL PKs have a better percentage on field goals of 50+ yards (76%, 25-of-33) than Matt Bahr (1979-95) had from all distances in his career (72%).
There’s almost no drama to the field goal anymore. Everybody is Mr. Automatic. To quote the great Snagglepuss: it’s become ridickle-ickle-icklous.
Time for the rules committee to do something about it. Namely, narrowing the goalposts from the current to 18 feet, six inches.