Since Eagles kicker Alex Henery missed a field goal in the 24-22 loss to the New Orleans Saints on wild card weekend, many fans have called for Henery to be replaced. This offseason, the Eagles picked up rookie free agent kicker Carey “Muderleg” Spear from Vanderbilt. Despite the collective calling of Eagles fans around the country, Alex Henery will beat out Murderleg for a roster spot in training camp.
Henery has been a solid player since being drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 draft. Overall, he ranks 4th all-time in field goal percentage, though his kickoffs have left something to be desired. Henery does not have the strongest leg, but he certainly is one of the more accurate kickers, despite what most fans think.
The last time the Eagles made playoffs, in 2010, they lost by five after their kicker, David Akers, missed two field goals. The next season, Akers was playing in a San Francisco 49ers jersey. Last year, the Eagles lost the wild card game by two in a after Henery missed a field goal. Common theme here?
In Henery’s defense, he has never really been in a “clutch situation.” He’s never hit the game-winning field goal as time expires. That’s not because he’s had opportunities and missed, he’s just never had the opportunity. The wild card game against the Saints was the biggest game of his career so far; in his first two seasons the Eagles went 8-8 and 4-12 and missed the playoffs. It’s easy to forget that Henery is not a veteran who has been salted by big games in his career, he was a 3rd year kicker in the first playoff game of his career.
Enter Murderleg. Murderleg was a fan favorite at Vanderbilt, known for his crushing hits on kickoff coverage. He boasts a strong leg, but his accuracy leaves something to be desired. While he may be more adept at booting kickoffs into the endzone than Henery is, as well as laying the hit on the ball-carrier afterwards, Henery is the more accurate of the two.
It should also be noted that Henery has been working on his kickoff technique. It’s a misconception that kickoff length is tied solely to leg strength. If that were the case, Henery wouldn’t be in the league at all. It is based more on technique than anything. If Henery can get the technique under wraps, and it looks like he’s been working on it based on how his kickoffs have looked this offseason.
It’s possible that the Eagles never intended to replace Henery. Bringing in bodies to compete was a theme of last year’s camp, so it’s possible that the Eagles just brought Murderleg to push Henery to get better and let him know his spot is not secure. In any case, it’s not expected for a rookie free agent to beat out a veteran. That being said, Alex Henery will beat out Murderleg and once again be our starting kicker next season.
Tags: Philadelphia Eagles