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It’s Time to Talk about Anders

Just how long should his leash be?

Green Bay Packers Training Camp Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Ahh, Mason Crosby, our sweet silver fox. Green Bay Packers fans loved him, Packers fans wanted to shake him. We wanted to scream into the abyss when he missed four of five field goals in a loss to the Detroit Lions, and then we wanted to give him a big smooch when he bounced back the next week to hit the game-winner against San Fran. Anyway, I hope everyone is enjoying Anders Carlson!

That the Packers decided to move on from Crosby this offseason wasn’t much of a surprise to most. The team’s all-time leading scorer was beginning to show signs of age: His touchback percentage dipped consistently each year since his career-best 2019, and his FG percentage was becoming inconsistent year-to-year. Simply put, his leg seemed to have lost its power.

When the 2023 draft came around and Crosby still wasn’t signed, it seemed likely that a rookie kicker would soon be introduced to the team. Enter stage (wide) right: Anders Carlson.

It’s safe to say Carlson has fans a little worried thus far in training camp. Through two preseason games though, the numbers are not awful. During game one against the Bengals, Carlson hit a 45-yard FG as well as three extra points but missed two extra points wide right. Game two against the Patriots was unfortunately cut short, however, Carlson finished the night with two extra points and a 52-yard FG.

The numbers outside of these games are what have fans in a frenzy. Per Andy Herman, at Tuesday’s windy practice, Carlson was two for six, and the misses were ugly.

There are other days that look just like the above, and then there are days where Carlson seems to bounce back. A week ago, he had a successful four of six (the misses were, you guessed it, wide right.) In warmups before the game against New England this past weekend, I witnessed Carlson attempt about six or seven kicks from 45, and he missed every single one of them (wide right!) Seeing it in person made my nostrils sting.

When asked about this inconsistency, general manager Brian Gutekunst mentioned that patience would be required for a rookie kicker no matter what. He also mentioned Mason Crosby and the “long leash” Ted Thompson gave him because Crosby always bounced back. So let’s compare!

A brief look at Mason Crosby’s rookie numbers:

  • 31/39 (79.5%) FG
  • 48/48 XP
  • Most of his misses (5) came from attempts between 40-49 yards

Crosby’s next year was almost exactly the same. In fact, Crosby didn’t begin to improve upon these numbers until year FIVE, when he made 85.7% of his FG attempts. From then on, he established himself as one of the league’s premier kickers and was consistently making 80%+ of his FG attempts.

Folks, I’m not saying Anders Carlson is going to be good, and I’m certainly not saying he’s going to be the next silver fox. We won’t know until we see him getting consistent regular-season action. With a young team that is looking to be competitive despite all the new faces in town, games may come down to the wire more than we realize. Anders Carlson is going to be called upon, and what matters is how he responds. It seems that, barring some pretty catastrophic play this season, Anders Carlson is the kicker of the future (for the next 17 regular season games.)