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]

Flyers reveal 2017 Stadium Series jerseys

Flyers reveal 2017 Stadium Series jerseys

Back in black.

The Flyers on Saturday morning revealed their 2017 Stadium Series jerseys for their Feb. 25 outdoor game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Heinz Field.

With their 50th anniversary sweaters resembling their current away jerseys with gold outlining throughout, the Flyers have gone back to black and orange for the outdoor game.

The jersey is almost all black, with an orange name plate and an orange elbow stripe. Orange is sprinkled throughout the jersey.

In addition to the outdoor game, the Flyers will also wear the jersey against the Penguins on March 15 at the Wells Fargo Center, a Wednesday Night Rivalry game.

Pittsburgh unveiled its Stadium Series jersey back on Nov. 25, an all gold uniform in celebration of its 50th season.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story).