Remembering Ryan

Longwell was lights out during his time in Green Bay, which can make his return to the Packers almost melancholy.

Longwell was lights out during his time in Green Bay, which can make his return to the Packers almost melancholy.

If you’re around something for long enough, it can become easy to accept it as normal, no matter how unpleasant it might be.

To that effect, Ryan Longwell will retire Tuesday as a member of the Green Bay Packers, and his one day return to Lambeau only highlights how uninspiring the two kickers the Packers have on the roster truly are.

For nine years, Ryan Longwell was about as good of a kicker as you could reasonably expect someone to be. The California produced knocked through 226 of the 277 kicks he attempted during his time in Green Bay, good for an immaculate 81.6%. Despite a below average leg, Longwell was relatively solid from distance, too, hitting on 13 of 22 kicks from beyond 50 yards.

Longwell’s fantastic accuracy wasn’t a streaky thing, either. In five of his nine seasons in Green Bay, Longwell converted on 85% of his kicks or better. By way of comparison, Mason Crosby has hit that mark exactly once, in his excellent 2011 campaign. But even that season, Crosby hit just 85.7% of his kicks, which would only tie as Longwell’s third best season in Green Bay and his sixth best if you include his years kicking in the climate controlled Metrodome in Minnesota.

And just for the record, even if you take last year’s disastrous kicking out of the equation, Crosby’s career numbers still don’t begin to match up to Longwell’s: he made 131 of 165 kicks, a pedestrian 79%. True, a higher percentage of Crosby’s kicks come from long distance, but the fact of the matter remains the same: Mason Crosby is not as good at making field goals as Ryan Longwell.

The more you compare Crosby to Longwell, the more disheartening things become. Longwell’s retirement ceremony on Tuesday makes for an interesting situation: the Packers will have a competent kicker, their all-time leading scorer, in the building. But despite the fact that he could, at age 38, still be a competent kicker, he’ll only be passing through. Once that retirement ceremony wraps up, the Packers kickers will once again be down to a formerly good kicker battling some inner demons and an untested commodity with more consonants in his name than career kicks converted.

And as unpleasant as that might be, it’s what Packers fans are used to.

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