If you were among those hoping to see the Philadelphia Eagles having a new kicker for the 2014 NFL season, prepare for disappointment. Barring an awful display in training camp, Alex Henery will be performing all Eagles kicking duties for the fourth straight season.
Alex Henery was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft by Andy Reid, the Eagles head coach at that time. As a college player, Henery was a kicker for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, with whom he set an all-time NCAA career record for “Highest Percentage of Field Goals Made”.
After a very promising rookie season, Henery didn’t manage to develop pro-level leg strength and turn into one of the best kickers of the league. After three years in the NFL, he has scored in 74 of his 86 field goal attempts, but at the same time, he has failed to nail one further than 51 yards away.
The biggest flaw in Henery’s game, however, are his kickoffs.
Henery fails to kick the ball out of the endzone in a consistent level and this was a problem for the Eagles in at least three games in 2013. At first, the Lions managed to field and return for a score two kickoffs in the famous “Snow Bowl” in December. Then, in Minnesota, the Eagles staff instructed him to perform shallow kickoffs to avoid the risk of Cordarrelle Patterson scoring in a kickoff return. Finally, against the New Orleans Saints in the playoffs, Henery missed a field goal and failed to kick the ball out of the endzone in the last kickoff, which led to a big return from Darren Sproles and the game-winning field goal of the Saints.
Knowing how much Chip Kelly values special teams play, it was expected that Alex Henery would face competition for his job in 2014. The Eagles, however, brought in only one undrafted free agent to challenge Henery. Carey Spear (also known as Murderleg) became an instant preseason favorite among Eagles fans for his nastiness and toughness as a college player. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t manage to outperform Henery in the organised team activites of June.
Recently, Dave Fipp, the Eagles special teams coach said that Henery is the best kicker the team can have right now.
“If you get a guy who’s a better kicker than him kicking field goals and a better touchback guy, let me know where he is,” Fipp told Phil Sheridan of ESPN.
Either they have faith in Henery or not, the Eagles staff knows it’s not easy to upgrade at the position, especially at this point of the season. So they feel comfortable with him going forward, despite his limitations in terms of leg strength. which are obvious both in kickoffs and long-distance field goals.