Is Murderleg the Answer at Kicker?


Oct 19, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores kicker Carey Spear (39) kicks an extra point while punter Taylor Hudson (29) holds against the Georgia Bulldogs during the second half at Vanderbilt Stadium. The Commodores beat the Bulldogs 31-27. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Undrafted free agent kicker Carey Spear is the latest installment in the land of tricks that is Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly’s wild playbook. Chip Kelly was attracted to Carey Spear, or as many now know him to be called “Murderleg”, because of some of the crazy things that this kicker can do. When most people think of a kicker and what is necessary for one they think of kicking accuracy and kicking power. However, Chip Kelly thinks of so much more.

Murderleg got his name for his love of tackling opposing kick returners. This can be a very useful trait, since if the Eagles were to need a last resort to prevent a touchdown from being scored on a kickoff. This is very fun to watch and very interesting as kickers are not usually very keen to tackle players, but Spear supposedly loves it.

Chip Kelly might be a fan of Murderleg’s tackling and the excitement it brings to a football game, but his tendency to tackle scares me. Let’s say that Spear develops into a very talented NFL kicker and helps the Eagles get to the playoffs, but in week 17 of the regular season New York Giants wide receiver Trindon Holliday is about to return a kick by Spear for a touchdown. Holliday weaves his way through the defenders thinking he is free to score and then….BAM…..Spear tackles him ending the return. Seems fine, except for the part where Spear dislocates his shoulder, or breaks his leg. Now we don’t have a kicker for the most crucial part of our season, and all because Spear did something unnecessary. Sure it helped at the time, but now we don’t have a kicker to, you know, KICK!

The other thing that scares me about Spear is how deep he kicks the ball. The reason that the Eagles need a kicker in the first place is because incumbent Eagles kicker Alex Henery has a very weak leg and cannot kick the ball out of the back of the end zone on a kickoff which, or reach deep field goals which was a large part of our loss to the New Orleans Saints in the first round of the playoffs. Spear’s career long field goal in college was 54 yards which is average at best. Yes, this was out of only five attempts of fifty yards or more, but this is still worrisome. In a league where Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker can hit sixty yard field goals, shouldn’t the Eagles be looking for the same? The other thing is, many of Spear’s kickoffs landed in very shallow territory. There’s a reason why Spear gets his opportunities to tackle kickoff returners, I have a feeling it’s because some of his kicks are shallow which gives the returners a bigger opportunity than they should have.

Nov 9, 2013; Gainesville, FL, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores kicker Carey Spear (39) against the Florida Gators during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Vanderbilt Commodores defeated the Florida Gators 34-17. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Again on the plus side the toughness Carey Spear has some other good uses. Carey Spear is capable of, and has successfully rushed in two point conversions. This is something Chip Kelly loved to do in college, but failed to do in the NFL with Alex Henery. With Spear that weapon comes back.

The bottom line is, Spear could be the most exciting kicker in the NFL, but Chip Kelly and the rest of the Eagles coaching staff will have to develop him into a real kicker first.