Leg or accuracy?

Go with leg, the numbers say

Well, not exactly. Statistically speaking, kickers aren’t reliable. As Football Outsiders wrote in 2007, “Kickers are unbelievably inconsistent from year to year. In fact, there is just about zero correlation between a kicker’s field goal percentage one year and his field goal percentage the next. Kickoff distance is more stable.”

But it’s about more than stability: It’s about value. Coaches want accurate kickers, but they also want guys who can boot the ball out of the end zone.

Teams justify it in different ways. Some, like Carolina and Dallas, carry a specialist. One team exec — speaking on condition of anonymity — uses math dividing the collective number of yards leaguewide by total offensive points scored. That way, he can determine how many yards equals each point.

In 2009, for example, there were 178,656 total offensive yards and 10,267 offensive points, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Divide the former by the latter, and you have 17.4 yards per point. If a team kicks off, say, five times a game, yards lost due to a weak leg add up, thus translating into points on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

 

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