A lot of people forget that special teams can make or break a game. Last year featured more than a few examples of what happens when a kicker isn’t on their game in the final minutes. Chris Boswell and Zane Gonzalez were dueling kickers in a Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns game early last season that exhausted over time, ending in a tie. Gonzalez also missed another field goal that could have boosted the Browns over the New Orleans Saints. The one that stands out like a sore thumb only added to the struggle of the Chicago Bears and Cody Parkey. Parkey had a less than stellar season anyway, but the “double-doink” as time expired against the Philadelphia Eagles said it all:
Rugby players have crossed over to become punters in the NFL. Michael Dickson punted for the Seattle Seahawks last season as well as Cameron Johnston of the Philadelphia Eagles. This isn’t the first time that the Eagles have gone down the route of landing a rugby player to punt for the team. Saverio Rocca did the same not only with Philadelphia but later with the Washington Redskins. So, why not get a kicker that played soccer? Especially when said soccer player is a legend on a national team.
Carli Lloyd is familiar with making field goals at NFL training camps. She did so with the Houston Texans one season and just this week with the Philadelphia Eagles as they hosted joint practices with the Baltimore Ravens. The Eagles fan took some pointers from fantastic kickers like Jake Elliott and Justin Tucker. After that, she followed up by drilling a fifty-five-yard field goal through slim uprights. After covering a whole season with the AFL and the Philadelphia Soul, that is extremely impressive. To put that into context, an AFL field is fifty yards long. Lloyd practically would be standing in the far endzone on an AFL field and drilling a field goal with what she did at the NovaCare Complex.
Even Gil Brandt, who is an NFL Hall of Famer, posed the same question. How far are we until a woman breaks through the NFL barrier? Brandt then named the Chicago Bears as a team who should provide “an honest NFL tryout.” Since last season, the kicker carousel hasn’t quite come to a stop for the Bears. They recently had two kickers on their team this preseason, releasing Elliott Fry and sticking with Eddy Pineiro.
Of course, there is more to the technique and position of a kicker than kicking the ball through the posts. That is what happens if everything goes to plan. On special teams, Carli Lloyd would have to be in to make tackles, to block in case of a mishandled snap, and would have to take the hit on special teams as players bolt down the field. That is asking for a lot. However, people around the league were impressed with her performance in Philadelphia. I invite the crossover and the breaking down of the barrier. At some point, a team is going to be in a situation where a kicker has failed them more than once and I’ll be tweeting “Carli is available” with the eye emoji.
Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt Rourke