Five months ago, we learned the Packers had signed unheralded Giorgio Tavecchio to "compete" with Mason Crosby for the kicker job. Like most fans (I assume), I didn't think that Tavecchio merited much consideration. This would be, at best, a token competition to help Mason Crosby get his mind right and refocus before the start of the 2013 season. A little competition would raise the stakes and help him get back on his game, right?
Well, so much for that idea.
By now you've heard that Crosby didn't exactly light it up at the Family Night Scrimmage on Saturday. A 3 for 8 kicking performance puts him squarely behind the upstart Tavecchio, who hit on 6 of his 7 kicks.
But reading between the lines, you don't get the impression the Packers are all that sold on Tavecchio, either. He barely squeaked over kicks from 51 and 53 yards, and Rob Demovsky, formerly of the Green Bay Press Gazette and now of ESPN, summarizes the problem nicely:
The issue with Tavecchio isn’t his accuracy. That’s been impressive. He has made 16-of-19 kicks in competitive situations so far this training camp (compared to 12-of-19 for Crosby), but the ball doesn’t pop off his foot like it should. The 51- and 53-yarders he made were in perfect summer weather conditions. Those kicks will be much tougher in the cold of November and December.
So to recap, we have a kicker who can't kick straight, another kicker who can't kick very far, and four preseason games in which to sort this (admittedly small, but still significant) mess out.
We're not getting any outside help, either, it would seem.
The free agent cupboard is pretty sparsely populated with competent kickers. Nate Kaeding would be nice, except for the postseason meltdowns and career ending injuries. Then you've got David Buehler, a kickoff specialist who only attempted 24 field goals in 36 career games. Something about a kicker who isn't allowed to kick doesn't exactly fill me with confidence. And then you've got Justin Medlock, who was released by the Panthers last year after going through his own field goal slump.
What's a franchise to do, then? Darned if I know. You can hope that Crosby figures it out over the next month (and you have to think he'll get every opportunity to do so, given the free agent crop), or you can pray that Tavecchio discovers some sort of magical leg strengthening exercise (which seems unlikely, but hey, we can dream). Either way, it seems like the Packers won't be finding a satisfactory answer to their kicker question any time soon.
Which can only mean that we're in for another exciting season of second guessing our kicker.