E-mail this image
Ravens 24, Browns 10
3. The majority of Billy Cundiff's misses this year have been pushes to the right from the right hash mark, and now it seems like those kicks are in his head.
Obviously, Sunday wasn't the kind of day Cundiff will remember fondly. It's been a pretty magical ride for Cundiff the last few years, and it's actually not that surprising that he hasn't been able to duplicate that same magic this season. Kicking a football is an art, not a science, and there are going to be seasons when you're just not striking the ball perfectly and you can't figure out why. It's a lot like golf, actually. Cundiff's driver hasn't been great this year, but his mid-irons and wedges have been as good as ever.
That was true prior to Sunday, at least, but not after Cundiff pushed a 34-yard attempt wide right from the right hash, then pushed a 41-yard attempt wide right minutes later. He also yanked an extra point and nicked the upright in the game.
In fairness to Cundiff, the weather was pretty miserable in Cleveland on Sunday. But the fact that Cundiff seems to be consistently pushing kicks wide right whenever he's kicking from the right hash mark seems like the problem should be correctable. Don't overlook the snap and the hold too when you criticize Cundiff. I've seen a couple less-than-perfect snaps this year that led to misses. Either way, he needs to get some of the kinks worked out over the next four weeks because he's going to be extremely important come playoff time.
I do find it somewhat laughable that a small contingent of Ravens fans seems to think the Ravens should "get rid of Cundiff" because the kickoff rule change has taken away some of his value, and they don't trust him in a big moment after a few misses this year. (Cundiff is still 14-for-14 in the fourth quarter, by the way.) For starters, anyone the Ravens could get at this point off the free-agent scrap heap isn't going to be an upgrade. Second, Baltimore can't light money on fire every time a player has a stretch of mediocre games. It's another example of why Ozzie Newsome makes football decisions and you don't. He doesn't overreact, or get emotional the way fans do. (Or Dan Snyder does.) The Ravens signed Cundiff to a 5-year, $15 million deal prior to this season. It's unclear how much of that was guaranteed money, but whatever it was, you can't just eat it based on a few bad games and start trying out new kickers, especially when you might end up with a worse player.
A lot of Ravens fans were spoiled by Matt Stover, I think. Stover was the most accurate "outdoor" kicker in NFL history. Just because Cundiff has missed a few kicks this year -- most of them from beyond 50 yards -- doesn't mean he's no good anymore.
December 4, 2011