Title: Top Kickers in NFL 2016: Precision, Skill, and Unleashing the Power of the Leg
In American football, the role of kickers often goes unnoticed, but their contribution to the game is invaluable. They are the ones who have the accuracy and power to score field goals and extra points, often deciding the outcome of closely contested matches. The NFL season of 2016 witnessed some exceptional kickers who left an indelible mark on the game. In this article, we will explore the top kickers of NFL 2016, highlighting their skills, interesting facts, and providing answers to common questions related to their craft.
Top Kickers of NFL 2016:
1. Justin Tucker (Baltimore Ravens):
Tucker is widely regarded as one of the best kickers in NFL history. In 2016, he showcased his unrivaled accuracy by converting 38 of 39 field goal attempts, including four successful kicks from beyond 50 yards. His sublime performance earned him first-team All-Pro honors.
2. Matt Bryant (Atlanta Falcons):
Bryant’s consistency and reliability make him a force to be reckoned with. In 2016, he converted 34 of 37 field goal attempts, with a long of 59 yards. Bryant’s presence was instrumental in the Falcons’ successful season, which culminated in an appearance in Super Bowl LI.
3. Dan Bailey (Dallas Cowboys):
Bailey, known for his calmness under pressure, proved his worth in 2016 by converting 27 of 32 field goal attempts. He also set an impressive record by becoming the most accurate kicker in NFL history, with a career field goal percentage of 89.9%.
4. Adam Vinatieri (Indianapolis Colts):
Vinatieri, a veteran of the game, showcased his experience and skill in 2016. Despite playing for a struggling Colts team, he converted 27 of 31 field goal attempts, including a remarkable 53-yard game-winner against the San Diego Chargers.
5. Matt Prater (Detroit Lions):
Prater is known for his booming leg strength and ability to convert long-distance field goals. In 2016, he solidified his reputation by converting 31 of 36 field goal attempts, including an impressive 58-yarder. Prater’s accuracy and clutch performances made him an asset to the Lions.
Interesting Facts and Tricks:
1. Leg Strength Training:
Kickers focus on strengthening their legs to maximize their power and accuracy. This involves exercises like squats, lunges, and plyometrics to enhance the force generated during a kick.
2. Perfecting Technique:
Kickers spend countless hours perfecting their technique, focusing on proper foot placement, angle of approach, and follow-through. These details can greatly impact the trajectory and accuracy of the kick.
3. Pregame Rituals:
Many kickers have unique pregame rituals to help them focus and find their rhythm. Some perform visualization exercises, while others listen to specific music or practice certain breathing techniques.
4. Onside Kick Mastery:
Mastering the art of onside kicks requires precision and strategy. Kickers practice different techniques to make the ball bounce at just the right angle, giving their team the best chance of recovering possession.
5. Wind Management:
Dealing with wind conditions is a significant challenge for kickers. They need to adjust their approach, angle, and power to compensate for the wind’s effect on the ball’s trajectory.
Common Questions and Answers:
1. What is the longest field goal in NFL history?
The longest field goal in NFL history is 64 yards, achieved by Matt Prater in 2013 while playing for the Denver Broncos.
2. Who holds the record for the most field goals made in a single season?
The record for the most field goals made in a single season is held by David Akers, who converted 44 field goals during the 2011 season while playing for the San Francisco 49ers.
3. Do kickers have specific responsibilities other than field goals and extra points?
While field goals and extra points are their primary responsibilities, kickers are also responsible for kickoffs. Their ability to consistently kick the ball deep and out of the returner’s reach is crucial in setting up favorable field position for their team.
4. How are kickers selected in the NFL?
Kickers are usually scouted and signed by teams based on their performance in college or previous professional leagues. They often participate in tryouts where their accuracy, leg strength, and consistency are evaluated.
5. Can kickers score touchdowns?
While it is rare, kickers can score touchdowns if they are able to recover a fumbled snap or execute a fake field goal or fake punt play. However, their primary role is to score points through field goals and extra points.
6. Are left-footed kickers more advantageous than right-footed kickers?
Left-footed kickers provide a different angle and spin on the ball, making it more challenging for opposing teams to block their kicks. This slight advantage can be beneficial, but it ultimately depends on the kicker’s skill and accuracy.
7. How do kickers deal with pressure situations?
Experienced kickers rely on mental toughness and years of practice to handle pressure situations. They often have specific routines and breathing techniques to help them stay calm and focused when the game is on the line.
8. Do kickers train differently from other players?
While kickers do participate in team practices, they often have specialized training programs that focus on improving leg strength, flexibility, and technique. They require a unique skill set, which is honed through specific training regimens.
9. Are kickers involved in team strategies?
Kickers are essential in team strategies, especially when it comes to deciding whether to attempt a field goal or go for it on fourth down. Coaches rely on kickers’ advice regarding their comfort range and wind conditions to make informed decisions.
10. How do kickers combat fatigue during long games?
Kickers maintain their stamina through rigorous physical conditioning and mental preparedness. They often have the support of specialized trainers and utilize techniques such as nutritional planning and hydration strategies to combat fatigue.
11. Are there any famous trick plays involving kickers?
Yes, there have been several famous trick plays involving kickers. One notable example is the “Music City Miracle” in the 1999 AFC Wild Card game, where the Tennessee Titans executed a successful lateral pass on a kickoff return for a touchdown.
12. Can kickers be tackled or blocked during a field goal attempt?
Kickers are not allowed to be tackled or blocked during a field goal attempt. They have a designated area behind the line of scrimmage where they are protected by the rules. However, defenders can attempt to block the kick by jumping and extending their arms.
13. How do kickers adapt to different field conditions?
Kickers need to adjust their technique and power based on field conditions such as grass length, weather conditions, and even the turf type. They often practice on similar surfaces during training to develop a feel for different conditions.
14. Are there any notable female kickers in the NFL?
While there have been no female kickers in the NFL to date, several female kickers have excelled at the collegiate level. One notable example is Katie Hnida, who became the first woman to score in a Division I-A college football game.
15. How do kickers impact the outcome of a game?
Kickers often decide the outcome of closely contested matches by scoring crucial field goals or extra points. Their precision and accuracy can be the difference between a win or a loss for their team.
The top kickers of the NFL in 2016 demonstrated the importance of this often-underappreciated position. Their precision, skill, and ability to perform under pressure are vital for their teams’ success. As the game evolves, kickers continue to refine their techniques and contribute to the overall strategy of the game. So, let’s not underestimate the power of the leg and the impact of these talented athletes in the world of American football.