Lions lose their security blanket

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lions fans everywhere will be stunned to read Graham Couch of the Kalamazoo Gazette’s latest headline: kicker Jason Hanson has elected to undergo ‘minor surgery’ on his knee.  According to coach Jim Schwartz, the decision was made in order to prevent the pain from lingering all season, and he should be back on the field “pretty quickly”.  Camp kicker Swayze Waters was re-signed to carry the Lions through the preseason—but not, it’s hoped, once the bullets go live.

For 17 years, the Washington State product has been the rock of the Lions’ roster: elite production year in, year out.  Other kickers have scored more points; partially because they played with a more productive offense. Other kickers have had higher career accuracy numbers, but over shorter careers, and with far fewer extremely long field goal attempts.  Jason Hanson has rarely been thought of as being the best kicker in the NFL in any given season--yet over the duration of his career, it’s extremely hard to find one who’s consistently been among the best for nearly as long.

If the Lions are without Hanson for even one game, they’ll be without one of their best weapons, and without their only “security blanket”.  No one else on the roster has the kind of unimpeachable reputation for clutch performance that Hanson has; when he comes out, everyone knows it means points on the board.  On a team that’s trying to overcome a well-deserved reputation for being unable to get it done late, conspicuously missing one of the NFL’s most cold-blooded closers certainly won’t help the confidence of the players, coaches, or fans.

Discuss it here, in The Den!