The Cardinals were an 8-8 team in 2007 and just a single game out of the playoffs. For a team on the brink like that, every little bit either adds up to a playoff berth or another season at home in January. Four of their eight losses were by less than a touchdown and in those four games Rackers missed 3 field goals, including losses to Baltimore, Washington, and San Francisco. When the season ended the Cardinals were 31st in the league in field goal percentage and one of only ten teams to miss an extra point. So the question begs to be asked, is Neil Rackers part of the problem or part of the solution?
First let's be clear about one thing, Neil Rackers will be the kicker for the 2008 season. He's signed through 2009 and the team didn't draft or sign another kicker to compete anyone to compete with him. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing though. Rackers hasn't been the model of efficiency throughout his career. His career field goal percentage ranks 31st among active kickers (out of 32) at 75.58% and his extra point percentage ranks 22nd at 98.12%. The really troubling thing is that Rackers 2007 season was among the worst in his career when his percentage was a putrid 70% and was an even more shameful 75% from 30-39 yards. Some have pointed to a change in Rackers' holder for his '07 struggles, since the Cardinals gave new punter Mike Barr a chance to hold. The team is also hoping that his struggles are partially a result of a sports hernia, which he had surgery to repair after the season. The best case scenario for both the Cardinals and Rackers would be for him to rebound to his 2005 levels, which was by far the best season of his career when he hit 95.2% of his field goals and was perfect from inside 40 yards. That type of performance from their kicker might be enough to get Cardinals over the proverbial "playoff hump." Another sub-par season could have the Cardinals scouting college kickers for the 2009 draft and Rackers looking for a new job.
So since we've all seen Rackers cost the Cardinals a handful of games the past two seasons, would you rather give him another season to straighten it out or are you ready for some new blood? If you are ready to give up on him, who is out there on the street to replace him?
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