It’s called “icing the kicker.” No, it has nothing to do with a short, European athlete having Betty Crocker frosting pasted on his body. It’s a common practice in the NFL that at first glance seems like a good idea, a no-brainer because there’s nothing to lose but a time-out, but a close examination shows that it’s definitely a mistake.
How many times have you seen a team line up at the 20 for a 37-yard field goal with :05 on the clock, down by 2, and hoping a strong leg will win the game? And how many of those times, with about :02 before the snap, does the opposing coach call a time out ? Just about every time. The theory is that you’re annoying the kicker by delaying the moment and making him think about winning – or losing the game. That time-out is supposed to get in his head and throw off the vibe enough that he will somehow screw up the actual kick when it counts. Sounds good, and it seemed to have worked this past weekend when the Giants beat the Cowboys in another NFC East thriller, but there are two big reasons why it’s not such a no-brainer.
- Let’s start with logic. If you had a big moment to perform on any stage, field, rink, court, of any kind, and someone said, “Would you like a practice shot first?” You’re not going to turn it down. If it’s windy, you’ll get a chance to gauge how to compensate. If there’s a distance issue, you’ll get a chance to calculate strength and angle of the kick. You’ll get a chance to flex your muscles knowing that it’s just practice. A kicker might only touch the field about four times during the course of a game. At least one, maybe two or three kick-offs, one or two field goals, hopefully one or two extra points is a very good day. Over the course of three hours, that’s only about once every half hour. He does a lot of sitting and standing, unless you count warm-up kicks on the sidelines. Calling that time out will only help him by giving him a practice kick out in the wind and amongst the real players instead of a practice kick into what looks like a lacrosse net.
- Anything that gets in a player’s head is a good thing when the player has a different color jersey than you. Kickers are already weird, so it’s not difficult to put a bug in their brains. They only players in sports who have more superstitions are goalies in hockey. If I’m a kicker, and I’m lining up to hopefully win the game, I do NOT want any distractions. If I know that it’s possible that there’s going to be a time-out whistle blown just before the snap-hold-kick, then that’s a distraction. Keep in mind that in the NFL you cannot call a time-out on consecutive plays. So if the opposing coach has already called a time-out in an attempt to “ice” me, then I know that when I line up again for that snap-hold-kick there will not be anything to interrupt me. It’s one less possible distraction.
I would love for the Elias Sports Bureau to run a field goal statistic and compare the following criteria:
– Under two minutes in the game
– Losing by less than three points or tie game
– Kick of 30 or more yards
– Time-out called versus no time-out called before the kick
That statistic would be very telling.
Another thing about field goals, they’re annoying. Here’s how to improve them. If the line of scrimmage is between the 1 and 10 yard line, you only get one point. If it’s from the 11 to the 20, you get two points. 21-over, you get three points. Also, put a bar across the top of the uprights and make it so you have to keep the ball inside the box. Maybe we can get a pendulum to swing back and forth to possibly block the kick. Or, hit that and get 4 points.
Now if we can only do something about those horrible throwback uniforms.