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: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored two goals, Sidney Crosby added his league-leading 28th and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth straight game, 5-1 over the Boston Bruins 5-1 on Sunday.

Pittsburgh led 2-1 through two periods before breaking out in the third with three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 57 seconds.

Sheary scored his 17th and has nine goals in nine games. Bryan Rust added his 12th and Patric Hornqvist his 11th for the Penguins, who won a season-high seventh straight at home. Pittsburgh the NHL's best home team, is 13-0-1 in its last 14 home games.

Evgeni Malkin had two assists for a season-best seven-game point streak. Crosby added two assists for a three-point game. Matt Murray made 44 saves to win his fourth straight game.

David Krejci scored his 11th for the Bruins, who have lost four straight and five of their last six (see full recap).

Rangers shut out Red Wings in 1-0 OT win
DETROIT -- J.T. Miller scored at 1:56 of overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season and 61st of his career. The Rangers managed only 19 shots in a game that featured few memorable chances by either team.

The winner came when Mats Zuccarello and Miller swooped in alone on Detroit goalie Jared Coreau. Zuccarello made a simple pass to Miller, who lifted the puck over Coreau for his 16th goal of the season.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall played for the first time since Jan. 4, returning from a lower-body injury. The Red Wings put forward Drew Miller on waivers (see full recap).

Atikinson lifts Jackets over Senators in wild OT win
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game at 1:09 of overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets a 7-6 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

Atkinson had a breakaway after a shot by Senators captain Erik Karlsson missed the Columbus net and went around the boards out to Atkinson, who was at center-ice.

The Blue Jackets trailed 5-3 after two periods before Lukas Sedlak and Matt Calvert scored 31 seconds apart to tie it less than 2 1/2 minutes into the third. Atklnson then gave Columbus a 6-5 lead with 9:10 remaining, before Kyle Turries tied it for Ottawa on the power play less than 2 minutes later.

Nick Foligno, Scott Harrington and Zach Werenski also scored for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo finished with 28 saves.

Zach Smith and Mike Hoffman each had two goals and Mark Stone also scored for the Senators. Mike Condon had 22 saves (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Lakers suffer worst loss in team history

Best of NBA: Lakers suffer worst loss in team history

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks had something to prove on Sunday following two straight tough losses.

Coming off a three-point effort in an overtime loss on Friday, Nowitzki scored all 13 of his points in the first half and Dallas gave the Los Angeles Lakers the worst loss in their history, 122-73.

"We didn't show up to play," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "It's embarrassing for us as a team and for us as an organization. The effort just wasn't there tonight, which I don't understand."

The 49-point defeat just edged Los Angeles' two previous worst losses at 48 points, most recently 123-75 at Utah on March 28, 2016.

The Mavericks' winning margin was the third-largest in their history.

It was Dallas' 13th straight win over the Lakers, who have lost six of their last seven games overall (see full recap).

Curry, Thompson each hit 7 3s, Warriors pull away from Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each hit seven 3-pointers and the Golden State Warriors won their seventh straight game, beating the Orlando Magic 118-98 on Sunday.

Tied at the half, the Warriors woke up from West Coast time in the second half to pull away. This was the first Eastern time zone noon tip for them since 1995, when they lost by 34 points in Orlando.

Curry went 7 for 13 on 3s and scored 27 points while Thompson as 7 for 9 from behind the arc and had 21 points. The Warriors shot 19 of 42 overall from 3-point range while the Magic went 7 for 28.

After trailing by 11 in the first half and committing a dozen turnovers, the Warriors went into the break even at 50. Curry hit four 3s and had 14 points in the third quarter as the Warriors outscored the Magic 42-24 (see full recap).

Bledsoe's career day leads Suns over Raptors 115-103
TORONTO -- Eric Bledsoe scored a career-high 40 points and had 13 assists and the Phoenix Suns handed the Toronto Raptors their third straight loss, 115-103 on Sunday night.

Bledsoe was 11 of 17 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range, and Devin Booker added 20 points as the Suns won their second straight road game following Saturday's win at New York. The victory also completed a season sweep of the Raptors for the first time since 2013-14 and improved Phoenix to 11-6 against Eastern Conference teams this season.

DeMar DeRozan had 22 points for Toronto and Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 12 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. It's the first time the Raptors have lost three straight since Nov. 6-10, 2015.

Kyle Lowry was ejected with 1:30 left after a flagrant-two foul following contact with the head of Brandon Knight. It capped a night to forget for Lowry, who had 15 points but shot just 5 of 17, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range (see full recap).