"No. I think we're going to look to put the best kicker on our football team. If that's a young guy, if it's Neil [Rackers], if it's another veteran that's out there, then that's what we'll do. We're very interested in bringing Neil back and talking to his representatives about bringing him back." -- Texans General Manager Rick Smith, 4/24/12 a few hours before Rackers signed with Washington
The 2012 mass exodus of not very important to moderately important players from the big building over on Kirby continued yesterday when Neil Rackers, kicker for the Texans the last two seasons, opted to leave Houston and sign a deal with the Washington Redskins.
Rackers's decision leaves the Texans without a kicker on their roster as they head into the NFL Draft on Thursday night, although if the draft is how the Texans choose to address this job opening, it will likely be on Saturday very, very late in the afternoon, if at all.
For now, let's reflect back on the Neil Rackers Era in Houston, shall we?
Rackers arrived in Houston prior to the 2010 season and was able to win the job from the incumbent, Kris Brown. And when I say Brown was "the incumbent," I don't just mean kicker, I mean he was the incumbent Texan, the last remaining original Texan at the time of his release.
Rackers went on to become known for four things while in Houston:
4. Scoring a shit ton of points After tying a team record with 124 points, including 27-of-30 field goals in 2010, Rackers set a team record with 135 points last season when he kicked 32-of-38 field goals. Perhaps by going to Washington (one of the worst offensive teams in football with a soon-to-be rookie starting quarterback), he's looking to reduce his workload. All this "having to kick" garbage could be making the job of kicker quite miserable for him. Fatigue will be far less of an issue in offensively challenged Washington.
3. Dwindling reliability in the crucial 40- to 49-yard range If you're an NFL kicker, you make your money converting field goals between 40 and 49 yards. The fact of the matter is that most below-average college kickers can make kicks inside 40 yards, and if you don't have the leg to make kicks above 50 yards consistently, at least your team can game plan around that (Rackers was actually decent from that distance with the Texans, 7-of-9 overall.). But 40- to 49-yard kicks are long enough to where it's not automatic, but close enough to where you need to punish a team for letting you inside that distance. Rackers was a putrid 4-of-8 from that range in 2011, which is unacceptable.
2. Bone-jarring hits! That said, I would never tell Rackers what I think of his 40- to 49-yard prowess to his face for fear that he might treat me like Marc Mariani:
In announcing his leaving for Washington, Rackers had this to say:
We're headed to Washington...We've had promises for a while now on a long-term deal and they came to us with a minimum offer. So we just felt like the opportunity for advancement was not in Houston. We came in and did the job like they asked us to. Didn't really feel like that was appreciated. I am really excited to go to Washington. Really excited to compete. Really excited to hopefully win a job and be the guy in Washington.
That's four references to some mysterious "we" in one soundbite. Does Neil Rackers have a pet robot that we aren't aware of? Does he carry a frog around in his pocket for good luck? "We came in and did the job like they asked us to. You and who else, Neil? I am mesmerized by this. And by the way, if "we" is referring to his wife, then his pussy-whippedness is immediately canceling out (and then some) any cool points that his hit on Mariani racked up.
This time of year, a lot of NFL executives are asked about their personnel, "If the season were to start today, who would start at [fill in position here]?" Well, if the season started today, the Texans would be going for it on fourth down in the red zone every time and letting random players take turns squib-kicking on kickoffs, which actually sounds kind of entertaining (especially if they spun a big wheel like from The Price Is Right to decide who gets to squib-kick).
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Early favorites to replace Rackers include Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock (Kubiak Factor) and any kicker that's suited up for the Broncos the last two decades (also Kubiak Factor).
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