Green Bay Packers

Mason Crosby Is Green Bay's Ageless Wonder

Photo credit: Mark Hoffman (USA TODAY Sports)

Aaron Rodgers has been a staple in an organization that values grooming young talent into franchise players. The 39-year-old will be entering Year 18 as a quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, the longest tenure in franchise history.

Yet if there’s anyone else in Green Bay who embodies the home-grown talent mantra, it’s veteran kicker Mason Crosby.

Crosby is entering his 15th year with the Pack at age 36 and will turn 37 in September. By no means is that too old for a kicker in the NFL. Heck, Adam Vinatieri retired after the 2019 season at age 47. It’s improbable that Crosby will reach that ridiculous mark. After all, 37 is shifting into that “Hmmm, he’s getting up there” age group for kickers.

But after 14 years in green and gold and a few gray whiskers here and there, Crosby’s numbers seem to grow with his age.

Young Calf to Old Bull

While all eyes were on Rodgers’ MVP season last year (and rightfully so), 2020 was a career year for Crosby. The Colorado alum was a perfect 16-16 on field goals, including a 57-yard bomb in a Week 3 win against the Philadelphia Eagles (the video says 58, but the kick was confirmed to be 57 yards).

And while Crosby did miss four of his 63 extra-point attempts last year, he was perfect in the last three games of the regular season and both postseason games. Those 63 attempts marked the second-most in a season in Crosby’s career (he attempted 69 in 2011). There are bound to be a few misses when your team is scoring that many touchdowns.

What stands out is that nine of Crosby’s 16 field goals came from beyond 40 yards. It’s no secret that the Packers feel they can convert on fourth down in the red zone with Rodgers at the helm. In fact, only 10 of Crosby’s 345 career field goals have taken place inside the 20-yard line (on 10 attempts).

Crosby had a fine 2019. He was 50% (1-2) from beyond the 50 in 2019 and 87% (7-8) from beyond the 40 that year. In addition, he split the uprights on 40 of 41 extra-point attempts, his best showing in that column since the NFL changed the extra point mark in 2015.

The previous year wasn’t as fruitful. Crosby’s 81% field-goal percentage in 2018 was his lowest since 2014, and he was only 16-22 beyond 40 yards. That being said, why have his numbers trended in the right direction after a bloodstain of a 2018 season?

Kicker is one of the few positions in sports where an increase in age doesn’t correlate with a decrease in performance. It’s also one of the most mentally grueling roles out there. Pressure is a privilege, and Crosby has handled the interior game of kicking just as well as he’s dealt with the physical act of kicking the football.

The rough 2018 wasn’t necessarily a setback season for Crosby. His field goal percentage that year was an increase from his 2017 total of 78.9%. However, 2012 was tough. A year after completing 86% of field goals, Crosby’s percentage dropped to 63.6% when he converted on only 21 of 33 attempts. A season like that can shatter the confidence of a man whose one job is to put a small ball through the uprights in high-pressure situations.

Yet how did he respond? By converting 33 of 37 (89.2%) of his field goals in 2013, the third-highest percentage in his 14 years with Green Bay. That ability to bounce back is the sign of an athlete who can turn the page and move on.

How Does This Affect 2021?

Anyone can scroll through Crosby’s past numbers to determine that he’s an all-around quality kicker. He may not be a Vinitieri or a Justin Tucker, but Crosby has been everything the Packers could have hoped for when they took him in the sixth round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

Job security is as difficult at the kicker position as any in football. One bad game can send a starting kicker searching for a new job. Yet even after 2012 and Crosby’s infamous 0-5 day against the Detroit Lions in 2018, he has found ways to channel resilience.

That resilience is paying off as he enters his 15th season in Green Bay. In fact, this year could be a new peak. Coming off consecutive seasons of making more than 90% of his field goals, Crosby’s confidence is at an all-time high. Last season put him in historic company as one of only five kickers in NFL history to hit 100% of his field goals with over 15 tries on the season.

The most significant byproduct of Crosby’s aging talent is that it’s instilled trust in the decision-making of head coach Matt LaFleur. The Packers will continue to find success by using Aaron Rodgers in fourth-down situations inside the red zone. That success will be less common farther down the field, though, and it sure helps to have the hottest kicker in the league to turn an otherwise scoreless drive into three points.

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