Your Monday Reality Check: This is just plain awkward at this point

August 20, 2012 | Glenn Clark

Your Monday Reality Check: This is just plain awkward at this point

There’s no easy way for the Baltimore Ravens to make this decision. They can’t ask their parents to change their mind and let them bring another friend. They may have hoped that Tucker could be just a call away should Cundiff’s 2011 struggles last into the start of the 2012 season, but that situation appears unlikely with Tucker’s continued preseason success now spreading onto tape and making him a likely option for other teams struggling with their kicking options.

Many fans and analysts have suggested the team take the easy way out and keep both kickers on the roster. It would be a more understandable concept if not for the fact that GM Ozzie Newsome and company are already struggling to trim a roster of over 60 legitimate former or future NFL players to a group of just 53.

It’s an awkward situation. As of right now, most who have watched the competition on a day to day basis in Owings Mills (as well as M&T Bank Stadium, Annapolis and the Georgia Dome) would concede Tucker ahead by a small margin. The greatest argument against Cundiff winning the job would be his title game miss, but a year after setting the record for most touchbacks in a single season he failed to boot the ball through the back of the end zone with the same regularity despite a five yard advantage to start. He also struggled with longer kicks, the same argument made against Stover before ’09.

Much like the last three seasons, the organization’s expectations start with winning the AFC North but don’t stop short of winning the Super Bowl. While the argument that Tucker could prove to be an excellent long-term choice as a potential “franchise” kicker, it does not guarantee that with the game on the lines against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1 he’d be ready to deliver a winning kick. Tucker supporters would point out that Cundiff already had the opportunity to do the same thing (in an even bigger situation) and failed.

I said after the loss in Foxborough that I would not have crushed the team if they had decided Cundiff’s crucial miss was a “fireable offense.” I’ve also never jumped on the #TeamTucker bandwagon I’ve seen all over Twitter in recent weeks. I thought it was interesting that the team did NOT allow Tucker to attempt a 57 yard try when a 3rd quarter drive against the Lions was bogged down at Detroit’s 40 yard line. He had regularly trying similar kicks in practice and before the game. I wish I had gone to the game to ask Harbaugh about the decision.

Perhaps the team was more afraid he’d make the kick than he’d miss.

Tucker wasn’t supposed to be presenting this much of a problem for Cundiff. The competition has proven to be just that awkward.

But if it means anything, I remember having a great time that day at ESPNZone.

-G

(Cover photo combination credit Baltimore Ravens.)

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2 Comments For This Post

  1. joe of bel air Says:

    Glenn; you are absolutely right. The Ravens never wanted any real competition for Billy Vanderjagt. That’s why they brought in Tucker instead of signing Neil Rackers or another veteran kicker. They thought Tucker would push Billy Vanderjagt just enough to keep him sharp but never expected him to win the job. I also agree about your comment aboyut them bypassing a 57 yard fg against Detroit as they did the previous week against Atlanta when they could have tried a 55 yarder, but elected to punt instead. I agree that they didn’t try those kicks with Cundiff because they were afraid he would miss and they were afraid to try it with Tucker because they were afraid he would hit both. Trouble is Tucker has outperformed him and if Harbaugh keeps Cundiff after telling everyone the best player will win the job, he will run the risk of losing this team as soon a Cundiff misses a makeable kick. With Billy it is not only the makeable kicks he misses, its the fact that Harbaugh doesn’t even try some longer kicks because he has no confidence in him. Remember the second Steelers’ game in December 2010. We are losing 13-10 with 30 seconds left in the game. It’s 4th and 2 on the Steelers 31 and Harbaugh elects to go for it instead of sending Billy Vanderjagt in for the fg. Enough said.

  2. Paul in Crofton Says:

    I read something last week that Cundiff’s FG% during camp has been around 83%, while Tucker’s is around 94%. That sounds pretty substantial to me.

    Like others have said, if the Ravens don’t keep Tucker, we’ll be watching him kick field goals for another team this season. Sure, he’s a rookie, but he kicked in the Big 12 for Texas, so he’s played in front of substantial crowds in meaningful games. The Ravens already missed out on Ryan Succop a few years back when they assumed he’d be an undrafted rookie, and the Chiefs took him at the end of the draft. Keeping Tucker could make up for that.

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