Eagles special teams coach says Henery is 14th best kicker in NFL (roughly)

Eagles special teams coach says Henery is 14th best kicker in NFL (roughly)

By the end of the 2013 season, it was painfully obvious the Philadelphia Eagles needed a new kicker. Alex Henery’s inability to consistently boom kickoffs out of the end zone—in a dome, mind you—compelled the Birds to attempt a series of unsuccessful squib and mortar kicks in a Week 15 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Then Henery missed a 48-yard field goal badly in a 26-24 first-round playoff loss to the New Orleans Saints.

We can all count. Those points would’ve helped.

The Eagles seem to realize Henery has his shortcomings, to put it mildly, otherwise they would not have used a roster spot on Carey Spear, aka Murderleg, the undrafted kicker out of Vanderbilt. Yet as special teams coach Dave Fipp explained to Reuben Frank for CSNPhilly.com, improving from Henery could be a challenge.

You see, Fipp is under the (mistaken) impression that Henery is an above-average NFL kicker.

“At the end of the day he’s still a really good kicker,” Fipp said. “There are a lot of teams that would like to have a kicker as accurate as him on their team.

“Would you like him to be better on kickoffs? Sure you would. But if you take both of those stats, where does he rank in the league in [field goals and kickoffs], and add 'em up and divide by two … he’s roughly the 14th-best kicker in this league.

“So there’s 17 teams that want a guy as good as him.”

It’s not entirely clear where Fipp comes up with the numbers for his own little ranking system. Last season, Henery finished 23rd in field-goal percentage and tied for 20th in touchback percentage, so clearly he wasn’t adding up the raw numbers.

Earlier in his conversation with Roob, Fipp points out that Henery has attempted—and missed—field goals attempts of 60 and 61 yards during his three-year NFL career. If we take those out of the equation, Henery’s career accuracy improves dramatically.

But therein lies part of the problem. More and more kickers in today’s league can make that kick. Six of the 14 field goals of 60 or more yards made in NFL history were hit in the past three seasons alone. There is no need to act like it’s some impossible feat.

Furthermore, 60 yards isn’t the real issue. One reason Henery’s percentage is as high as it is is because two separate coaching staffs have trusted him to attempt a total of five field goals of 50 or longer. In 2013 alone, 17 kickers attempted a minimum of five field goals field goals from those distances.

Of the 143 long-distance field goals tried in 2013, 67 percent connected.

What good is Henery’s supposed accuracy if you can’t even put him on the field for what has become a fairly routine play in pro football?

We won’t even delve in very deep on kickoffs. Henery has ranked 20th, 23rd and t-20th in touchback percentage since entering the league. In other words, he’s below average at half of his job, nor has he shown much improvement at this point.

Fipp is hoping Henery learns to kick the ball at a different strike point. I am decidedly less hopeful.

Suggesting there are 17 teams that want a kicker as good as Henery is an egregious claim to say the least. Frankly, his lack of leg strength makes him a borderline NFL player at best, because booming touchbacks and kicking long-distance field goals are becoming focal points of the evaluation process at that position. With that in mind, it’s actually baffling to think the Eagles used a fourth-round pick on Henery in 2011.

Thankfully, that’s a mistake the team may not have to live with for much longer. We know with a nickname like Murderleg that Spear can crush the ball. If he’s even close to as accurate as Henery, that means an undrafted kicker out of Vanderbilt is probably the better option.

>> Fipp: Henery 'roughly the 14th best kicker' in the NFL [CSN]

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

Best of NHL: Ryan White scores in winning debut with Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund beat two defenders to find open ice and wrap the winning shot around goalie Jonathan Quick just 12 seconds into overtime, giving the Minnesota Wild a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday night.

Granlund's 20th goal of the season gave goalie Devan Dubnyk his NHL-leading 33rd win and the Wild their 15th comeback victory. They answered all four goals in regulation by the Kings, from Nick Shore, Tanner Pearson, Jake Muzzin and Marian Gaborik.

Jason Zucker's spinning wrist shot midway through the third period tied the game for the Wild, who also had goals from Nino Niederreiter, Jordan Schroeder and Ryan White in his debut. White and Martin Hanzal were acquired in a trade with Arizona the night before (see full recap).

Kucherov's hat trick carries Lightning past Sens
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nikita Kucherov scored three power-play goals in the second period and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their fading playoff hopes alive with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday night.

Kucherov had the second hat trick of his career and added an assist in the third period. Jonathan Drouin assisted all three of his goals and Victor Hedman assisted on two.

A day after trading goaltender Ben Bishop to Los Angeles and just hours after trading forward Brian Boyle to Toronto, the Lightning improved to 6-1-2 over their past nine games.

The Senators, who won at Florida on Sunday night, are 6-6 over their past 12 games (see full recap).

Galchenyuk lifts Canadiens over Devils in OT
NEWARK, N.J. -- Alex Galchenyuk scored on a power play at 2:54 of overtime and the Montreal Canadiens rallied from a two-goal third-period deficit to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Monday night.

Max Pacioretty scored twice in the final 11:23 of regulation to tie the game and Alexander Radulov added a goal for the Canadiens, who won consecutive games for the first time since early January. Al Montoya had 34 saves for Montreal.

Kyle Palmieri, John Moore and Travis Zajac scored for the Devils, who have lost four straight games (0-2-2), the past two in overtime. Cory Schneider made 29 saves.

Galchenyuk beat Schneider with a shot from between the circles less than a minute after Damon Severson was penalized for hooking (see full recap).

NHL Notes: Capitals acquire Kevin Shattenkirk from Blues

NHL Notes: Capitals acquire Kevin Shattenkirk from Blues

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Capitals have acquired defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in a trade with the St. Louis Blues.

Washington sent a 2017 first-round pick, conditional 2018 second-round pick, forward Zach Sanford and minor leaguer Brad Malone to St. Louis in the deal that also sent former Capitals goaltending prospect Pheonix Copley to the Blues.

The teams announced the deal Monday night.

Shattenkirk, 28, is set to be an unrestricted free agent this summer. He has 42 points on 11 goals and 31 assists this season and has 66 goals and 218 assists in 471 NHL games (see full story).

Senators: Alex Burrows acquired from Canucks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Ottawa Senators are gearing up for a push to the postseason, acquiring forward Alex Burrows from Vancouver for prospect Jonathan Dahlen.

The trade gives the Senators a skilled pest with plenty of playoff experience at forward.

Burrows, 35, has played 822 regular-season games with the Canucks, with 193 goals, 191 assists and 1,066 penalty minutes. He has added 19 goals and 15 assists in 70 playoff games.

He had four straight seasons of at least 25 goals from 2008-09 to 2011-12 playing largely with the Sedin twins. His best offensive days are behind him -- he has nine goals in 55 games this season -- but he will still bring an edge to a Senators team that is pressuring Montreal for the top spot in the Atlantic Division (see full story).

Wild: Parise, Pominville out with mumps
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild forwards Zach Parise and Jason Pominville have been diagnosed with mumps and must miss at least three games.

The Wild announced Monday, shortly before faceoff against Los Angeles, that Parise and Pominville have the highly contagious virus along with other members of the organization. The veteran wings have been placed in isolation for a five-day period, meaning they'll at least miss games Tuesday at Winnipeg and Thursday at Columbus.

The Wild said players and staff were recently provided with a measles-mumps-rubella vaccination.

Vancouver played Saturday night without five players because of the mumps or symptoms associated with the virus.

With Parise and Pominville out, forwards Martin Hanzal and Ryan White made their well-timed debuts Monday after being acquired Sunday in a trade with Arizona.