Vikings' tried & true kicker & High Points Of Ryan Longwell's Career
[size=10pt]High Points Of Ryan Longwell's Career[/size]
Leading scorer in Packers history. In nine seasons, he had 1,054 points.
â€¢ In that span, only Denver kicker Jason Elam (1,078) had more points.
â€¢ Has scored at least one point in all 144 regular-season and 10 playoff games.
â€¢ Led NFC kickers in 2000 with 131 points, a career high.
â€¢ From 50 yards or longer, Longwell is 13-for-22.
â€¢ Has made 21 of his past 22 field-goal attempts in fourth quarters or overtime.
â€¢ Averaged 61.1 yards in 750 career kickoffs
[size=10pt]Vikings' tried & true kicker[/size]
Ryan Longwell didn't even last an entire training camp as a member of the San Francisco 49ers in 1997. He spent exactly one practice on the same roster as veteran kicker Gary Anderson.
But in that very brief period Longwell started to realize something that, 10 years later, has helped make him one of the most accurate kickers in NFL history.
"You see a lot of young guys come into the league and everybody is talking about leg strength, leg strength, leg strength," Longwell said. "What I've learned over the years, just watching guys like Gary Anderson, is that it doesn't matter where it goes -- it just has to go through."
After Longwell, a free agent rookie out of Cal, was cut by the 49ers, he was signed by Green Bay. He put the ball through the uprights plenty of times over the past nine seasons there, becoming the Packers' career scoring leader and climbing to eighth in league history with an 81.6 percent field-goal rate.
That consistency earned him a five-year, $10 million free-agent contract -- including a $3 million signing bonus -- from the Vikings in March.
Compares leg swing to golf swing
Despite Longwell's observation that leg strength meant nothing without accuracy, the key was his ability to devise a plan for how to approach field-goal attempts without trying to hit the ball as hard as possible. For that, he looked to another of his passions, golf.
The son of a former PGA pro, Longwell compares the swing of his leg to the swing of a club.
"Your stroke on the golf course is much more efficient at 85 percent than it is 100 percent because you're going to hit it more consistent, more often and off the sweet spot," said Longwell, who belongs to the prestigious Isleworth Country Club in Florida and is a below scratch golfer with a handicap index of plus-1.8. "I take that approach to kicking. I know I can swing harder if I need to but pretty much from 53, 55 yards and in, I can hit my 85 percent swing and it's going to be the most consistent."
Longwell, 32, has used his "85 percent" strategy full-time on field goals since his second season NFL season. This helped his 80-percent success rate as a rookie with the Packers increase to 87.9 in his second season. Since that time Longwell's percentage has dipped below 80 percent only twice. He made only 20 of 31 attempts (64.5 percent) during a poor 2001 season and last year missed seven of 27 attempts to finish at 74.1 percent. Two of Longwell's misses came in the Packers' 23-20 loss to the Vikings on Oct. 23 at the Metrodome. The previous season, Longwell had made two last-second game-winning kicks against the Vikings.
"You've got to be impressed by him," said punter Chris Kluwe, who will serve as Longwell's holder. "Just the way he hits the ball. He hits it solid every time and it goes where he wants it to go. In the NFL, consistency is everything. They want you to make those 30- to 40-yard field goals every single time. From what I've seen, he does it."
Childress is pleased
Longwell's presence as the Vikings' lone kicker in training camp has been a departure from recent years when the team has had legitimate competition for the kicking position. In two preseason games, he made three of his four field-goal attempts and all three of his extra-point tries. Longwell's only miss came on a 55-yard attempt against Oakland in the exhibition opener.
"He has had a good camp," coach Brad Childress said. "I'd be lying to you if I told you there weren't days where he wasn't as good as others, but that is probably like his golf game as well. Maybe one day he had the 'yips' out here. I don't know why, but other than that, he has been pretty steady."
For the first time in his career, Longwell is looking forward to the opportunity to kick in a consistent home environment. While many assumed the cold of Lambeau Field made late-season life difficult for the kicker, the reality is the gusting winds around the base of the field made things just as tough throughout the entire season.
"The wind was definitely the worst," Longwell said. "The cold is just a mental thing. You know the ball is not going to go 60 yards, like it does in August. So you just deal with it and realize your field-goal range is shorter. But the wind is something that you're always figuring out, you're always guessing. It's a very tough place to kick."
And being out of Lambeau might help Longwell earn his first trip to the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, where he would once again be able to mix his love of golf and football.
"I think this gives me a great chance [to get to the Pro Bowl]," Longwell said. "I feel like I had some years that were Pro Bowl-worthy. I had a couple great years that no one beat, even the Pro Bowl kickers. ... I still long for that. It's a huge goal of mine and something I want to accomplish."
[size=10pt]Kickin' about it[/size]
Ryan Longwell's goal of making the Pro Bowl as the NFC's kicker has been thwarted most notably by Philadelphia's David Akers. Here are the NFC Pro Bowl kickers during Longwell's nine-year NFL seasons:
2005: Neil Rackers, Arizona
2004: David Akers, Philadelphia
2003: Jeff Wilkins, St. Louis
2000: Martin Gramatica,
1999: Jason Hanson, Detroit
1998: Gary Anderson, Vikings
Re: Vikings' tried & true kicker & High Points Of Ryan Longwell's Career
Nice read Ultra,
I was very happy when we picked up Ryan, he is surely one of the top 5 field goal kickers in the league and kickers win you games at times... :)