Posted: 4:00 p.m. Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Fair warning: we're talking special teams here. Specifically, Houston Texans second-year rookie kicker Randy Bullock. If you don't think kickers are real people, you may want to jump to the next article.
I'll continue by saying that I won't turn this into a rant on how the Houston Texans missed out on Blair Walsh or Greg Zuerlein in the 2012 NFL Draft. I wasn't on the bandwagon then and it's fruitless to complain now.
/looks longingly at powerful game-changing legs
I also didn't, and don't, watch any Texas A&M; football, so I can't really speak to the last known playing days of Bullock. I've never seen the guy kick aside from a few underwhelming displays of leg strength last preseason.
I'll also leave the forward-thinking game theory that field goals should be eschewed for touchdowns in certain situations (on the road, in the red zone, etc.) to the brilliant minds of guys like MDC and Rivers McCown.
Before training camp begins in earnest, I just wanted to bring to light another latent issue that could rear its head during the 2013 NFL season for your Houston Texans: Randy Bullock and the case of the young--essentially a rookie--kicker.
Since 2003, there have been 19 rookie kickers that have attempted more than 16 field goals in a regular season. Nineteen kickers who have carried the weight for their franchises.
Well, that's all over the place, eh? Nineteen rookie kickers who combine for an 80% field goal made rate, averaging about six misses. Looking at last year's kickers, the average rookie kicker is essentially Rob Bironas. That's not too comforting, considering Bironas was 28th in FG made percentage out of 36 kickers.
Of course, that's not the crucial part of this equation. Many are probably asking how many games those kickers cost their teams. Going through game logs for all 19, you may be surprised (as I was) to learn that these 19 young kickerscost their team only 11 combined games where a field goal could have tied or won the game. All the rookies, except two, showed range by nailing a field goal from over 50 yards away. The two who didn't, Mike Nugent and Robbie Gould, have had eight-year careers demonstrating a stronger leg.
Perhaps more surprising is that, despite the combined 80% FG made in the regular season, the rookies made 95%(!!!) of their field goals (20-21) in the postseason. Stephen Gostkowski serves as the most stunning example as he went 8-for-8 in his postseason after a 20-for-26 regular season effort.
What's this mean for Bullock in the unpredictable world of kicking? Our sample size is large enough to suggest that he is going to have his learning moments and could be below average in the regular season. When the rookies missed, it usually happened multiple times within the same game. However, history suggests that Bullock isn't guaranteed to blow a game. It's far less common than one would assume and, more surprising, rookies grow nerves of steel by the time January rolls around. If Fat Randy can improve upon his range (made a career long of 52-yards at Texas A&M;, met or exceeded by 24 of 36 kickers who attempted a regular season field goal in 2012), Bullock should enjoy as lengthy a professional career as many of the names above have.
Thoughts, BRBers? Does this make you worry less about the youngster from College Station? Will Joe Marciano take these stats and ruin them? Chime in below.