PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 2: Place kicker Alex Henery #6 of the Philadelphia Eagles talks with David Akers #2 of the San Francisco 49ers, a former Eagles kicker, before the start of their NFL football game at Lincoln Financial Field on October 2, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)
In one fell swoop, so to speak, Henery eased all concerns about a kicking game that had for a decade been handled at a Pro Bowl level by David Akers, the greatest kicker in franchise history. The Eagles invested a fourth-round draft pick in Henery, a standout at Nebraska, and allowed Akers to test free agency and ultimately sign with the 49ers. There, Akers had a brilliant 2011 season and reached the Pro Bowl and nearly the Super Bowl.
Here, Henery started the next generation of great kicking for the Eagles. Consider that a win-win for all concerned.
Spadaro called Henery's season "historic," which it technically was (he broke the rookie record for accuracy), but I still think Dave has gone a little overboard here on Henery.
First, let's look at that rookie accuracy record. Henery edged out Cowboys rookie kicker Dan Bailey for it, but the fact is that Bailey had a much higher level of difficulty. He was asked to attempt 12 FGs from beyond 40 yards and 4 from beyond 50. Henery only attempted 4 FGs from beyond 40 and 2 from beyond 50. He attempted 10 more kicks overall than Henery and only missed 1 from inside 40, whereas Henery missed 2.
Fact is, the kid gloves (shoes?) were on with Henery last season. Over the last 3 seasons of David Akers' career here, Andy Reid had him attempt 10, 13 & 11 kicks from beyond 40 yards respectively. The Eagles offense did not change to the point where the kicker suddenly needed to take less than half those attempts. Reid simply ratched down the level of difficulty for him, which I don't believe is proof that we've "started the next generation of great kicking for the Eagles."
Now, this is not to say I don't think Henery can be good. He made all 4 of those 40+ yarders he attempted. In fact, the only long distance kick he missed was a 63 yarder. Plus, he was a great kicker in college. So there's a lot to like, but I would caution against putting too much into his rookie season. Fact is, if you have made it into the NFL as a kicker, there's a pretty good chance you can hit kicks from inside 40 yards with relative consistency. That's really all Henery did last year.
As an aside, while I was looking at the numbers I noticed what an odd year David Akers had last season. For one, he made a ton of chip shot FGs, a ridiculous 31 from inside 40 yards. But from beyond 40, he was awful making only 6-11, the worst percentage of his career. However, amazingly, he was great from beyond 50 making 7-9, by far the most in his career. So an odd year for him for sure.