Getting their kicks: This is bound to happen whenever Mason Crosby misses multiple kicks: Suddenly, everything from his form to his psyche will be analyzed, and that’s what happened after he missed from 53 and 42 yards last Sunday against Philadelphia. Even though he was 19 for 21 coming in (with misses from 44 at Baltimore on Oct. 13 and from 52 against Cleveland on Oct. 20), this is what happens when you go 21 for 33 the previous year.
The popular theory this week: That taking back the kickoff job from punter Tim Masthay since Cordarrelle Patterson’s 109-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Oct. 27 might impact his accuracy on field goals.
“I don’t think so,” special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum replied when asked if kicking off, which Crosby had done throughout his career before Masthay took over this year, was having an impact. “The 53-yarder, I thought he put a poor swing on it. The 42-yarder, he put a good swing on it and just misjudged the wind.
“Tim’s still ready to go (on kickoffs). I thought over the last three weeks that Mason’s ability to place the ball on the kickoffs is something we needed. I think he’s done a great job of it and that’s the way we’ve gone with it.”
Slocum said the theory is that as the weather turns, Masthay probably won’t be able to boom kickoffs out of the back of the end zone as easily. That will put a premium on directional kicking, where Crosby is better.
“It’s a factor,” Slocum said. “I think the placement helps us in the way we do things. As I’ve said, Mason’s done a really good job with it.”
Meanwhile, one area where the Packers continue to struggle on special teams is kickoff returns. They still rank last in the NFL with an average of 16.5 yards per return. Denver leads the league at 29.2 yards per return; the second-worst team in the league, Washington, is at 20.0 yards per return.
“I think you’ve got to look at from a philosophical standpoint,” McCarthy said. “We’re very comfortable taking the ball on the 20, so that kind of isn’t really an indictment on the unit. We’ve had some mishaps earlier in the year back there I think definitely affects our statistics, but we’re getting better. I do feel strongly about that.”
Mike McCarthy is sure that he won’t lose a quarterback on the opening series for the third consecutive week. He’s sure that he won’t have his fourth quarterback in as many weeks wind up playing. And he’s sure that he won’t be one more play away from having John Kuhn or Jordy Nelson at QB. The guess here is he’s right; how much misfortune can even the NFL’s unluckiest injury team take? That said, the guess here is that Wallace’s injury was a blessing in disguise. Tolzien gives the Packers a better chance than the veteran would’ve. That said, it’s hard to pick them to win after what’s happened the last few weeks. If they get multiple interceptions off Eli Manning and run the ball reasonably well, they certainly can win. But I’ll believe it when I see it. Giants 28, Packers 24. (Season record: 7-2)
– Jason Wilde