#26 – Steven Hauschka

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

Kicker?  Punter?  Who’s coming up with this list???

Well, you know what?  Just look at last season:  there were five games where the difference was 3 points or less.  And the Seahawks were 1-4 in those games.

Hell, look at any team’s schedule and you’re going to see a bunch of games where the difference was 3 points or less.  Kickers are important!  Winning those close games could be the difference between making the playoffs and finishing 7-9!

Now, I’m not necessarily as jazzed about our kicker as I am about our punter.  I think Hauschka is average at best and I think he’s still got a lot to prove.  He was 25 for 30 on field goals last year, which is okay I guess.  But, I don’t remember him ever hitting a “big” field goal.  A game-on-the-line, high-pressure field goal.  I think, as far as seasons go, 2011 for him was a pretty soft landing.

I don’t necessarily judge kickers on their field goal percentage (unless it’s something crazy like Olindo Mare’s 2009 when he went 24 of 26); I judge them more on how they handle the big moments.  Hauschka (annoying spelling of his last name and all) has yet to really shine in a big moment.  Of course, that’s not really his fault.  That kick in that Atlanta game last season was ridiculous; I don’t think you can expect him to make a 60-something yard field goal in Qwest Field like that.  But still.  Josh Brown is the last bigtime kicker this team had.  It would be nice to know that Hauschka is on that level.

The other things kickers are for?  Touchbacks.  Hauschka was 23rd in the NFL last year.  Percentagewise, just under 35% of his kickoffs were touchbacks.  That’s … obviously not great.  It’s especially not-great considering the best guys are up in the 60+ percent range.  I could let Hauschka’s average-ness in the field goal department slide a little bit if he was more of a weapon in the kickoff department.

And, considering his touchbacks are so low, that obviously means he’s giving up more returns than he should.  Where does that hurt us?  Well, even though he’s not kicking the ball as far, he’s still giving up one of the higher average returns in the NFL at 26 yards per return.  Among regular kickers, that was 5th-most in the NFL last season.  That’s pathetic.

So, Hauschka, get a stronger leg.  Or the Seahawks need to seriously start thinking about upgrading.  This isn’t rocket science.  Kick the ball far and we’ll like you.  Give us some memorable last-second wins and we’ll like you even more.

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