If once is a mistake and twice is an accident, what's the excuse when something happens five times? Despite a few assertions otherwise, the Detroit Lions look prepared to test that theory with their aged, embattled kicker David Akers, who's repeated short misses indoors have left holes in Detroit's special team attack.
On Thanksgiving Day, Akers missed another chip shot, whiffing on a 31 yard field goal which could have extended Detroit's already insurmountable-feeling halftime lead against the Green Bay Packers. From that standpoint, the miss was largely meaningless. To the discerning eye, however, it was another in a long line of Akers' embarrassing inconsistencies in 2013.
Akers' struggles have been repeatedly written off by Jim Schwartz and the staff. When he missed against Arizona leading to a loss, it was blamed on a blocking scheme. In Chicago, Akers was confused by the swirling wind. What's the excuse for his two short misses in Detroit against Cincinnati and Green Bay? Nothing at all considering the perfect conditions indoors.
That's why it was no surprise when an interesting nugget was released regarding the Lions' plans at kicker. Though Akers is still likely to be Detroit's kicker moving forward, the Lions will work out kickers this week, perhaps searching for secondary options should Akers continue to whiff under the intense pressure of the coming weeks.
Detroit cannot afford to take too many chances with Akers if he continues to prove erratic just a few more times down the stretch. In a pressure-packed season for Schwartz and general manager Martin Mayhew, a missed kick could mean much more than a regular season loss or even a playoff defeat. Plenty of jobs are on the line, and a 38 year-old kicker with an erratic leg could end up costing many in the organization everything.
For that reason, it's not a shock that Mayhew could think about exploring other options this week. The Lions need to have someone waiting in the wings (perhaps even Havard Rugland) ready to take over should Akers continue to choke up close. He's not to be trusted for consistency after having plenty of misfortune during the middle of the season. As the year draws to a close
Coming into the season, Akers' veteran experience looked like a sure thing when compared with Rugland, who was untested having never kicked collegiately or professionally. Now, considering Akers' hernia surgery and how he has struggled bouncing back since, it's clear both may have been a risky choice.
Just in case, the move to check out other options at kicker late in the season is the right one. Perhaps some competition will heat up Akers, considering in recent weeks, he hasn't looked safe enough to consider a reliable option.
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