Cory's Corner: On The Right Foot?

The Packers kicker that has never missed a regular season game has plenty of question marks this year. 

Mason Crosby might be the Packers’ biggest wild card when they take on the Vikings on Sunday afternoon. 

What is a fair expectation for a guy that missed the entire training camp and preseason while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee?

The 38-year-old kicker has played in 241 straight regular season games dating back to 2007 when he was drafted in the sixth round out of Colorado. 

Last year was one of Crosby’s worst years as a Packer. He had a 73.5 field goal percentage, his worst mark since he tallied 63.6 percent in 2012. He also missed two extra points and his touchback percentage also took a dip. 

But what everyone is going to remember is the 39-yard field goal that was blocked by San Francisco's Jimmie Ward in last year’s NFC Divisional Round Playoff.

Communication is essential when it comes to special teams. And that communication was handed a big blow when the Packers released Steven Wirtel and opted to keep rookie Jack Coco as the team’s long snapper. So Crosby isn’t just dealing with a surgery to his kicking leg, but he is also adjusting to a new long snapper. 

“I hit a set inside today and felt really good,” said Crosby on Aug. 30. “I’m just going to keep building off of that. The goal is obviously to be full go and ready to go by Week 1.”

But even if he is ready to play, what does that mean? Will LaFleur be more inclined to go for it on kicks deeper than 40 yards? How will Crosby respond mentally and physically to an imperfect surface that’s either wet or frozen? 

The defense is far ahead of the offense and we shouldn’t be surprised if it takes the offense at least a couple weeks to get its sea legs. And because of that, every chance at points is going to be monumental. The snap, rhythm, timing and blocking must be perfect before the kick has a chance to sail through the uprights. 

But ultimately, missed kicks lie with the kicker.

Crosby is the franchise leader in points (1,806), field goals (370) and extra points (696). I like Crosby and everything he has done for the Green Bay and Wisconsin community. He has a lot of pressure on him simply because of the unknown of what he will be able to do. 

Coming back from injury is hard enough but adjusting to a rookie at one of the key positions on special teams might be tougher. The team has put its trust in the veteran kicker by keeping him on the 53-man roster. The last time the Packers had stability at long snapper was with Hunter Bradley from 2018-2021. Before that, Brett Goode was the long snapper from 2008-2017. 

Crosby isn’t just the leader on special teams, he’s the lone returning veteran for the kicking unit. If Crosby is successful and puts injury concerns and transition concerns aside, then he will deserve a huge kudos. 

Because he’s walking into this season already behind the 8 ball. 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

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3 points

Comments (49)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
GregC's picture

September 06, 2022 at 06:15 am

Sounds like the surgery was routine and he will be okay. I don't think adjusting to a new long snapper is a problem when the last one was brought in halfway through last season and wasn't very good. The holder should be better too.

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NickPerry's picture

September 06, 2022 at 06:47 am

Last year was the first season in a while where I started to close my eyes on FG attempts by Crosby. When he went through that 2012 season it took me quite a while before I began to trust him again. I can still see that last-second FG attempt against the Colts. It was so far wide left that I think it hit a fan in the left corner of the endzone it was SO far off. It's at about the 2:43:15 mark of the game (At the very end)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcV9CMQtUIA

THAT kick haunted me for years and was all I could think about when I saw Crosby come out for an attempt. It took a minute but Crosby earned my trust again and all was well for YEARS...Right up until week 5 last season in Cinncinati...UGH!!!!!

That was the game I began not watching Crosby kick again. It wasn't just FGs this time either. It was ALL ST plays. Kickoffs, kick returns, punts, FGs, it didn't matter, I couldn't watch.

BUT, for a lot of years between the end of 2012 and week 5 of last season, Crosby was MONEY. The Packers have a really good ST coach for the first time since Norman Cromwell. He may not have the leg he used to, but I still think he can kick it from 52 without a problem. I'm hoping he's out there this Sunday, kick a shit load of Extra-Points and a FG for good measure.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:14 am

Nolan Cromwell... got it Steve Perry? ;-)

Crosby has my complete trust and faith.

I am placing the blame for last years slip on the holder and snapper with a big WTF to the blocking as well.

Those two positions have been in sync since the beginning of TC, no problems with that part of the operation and Crosby as a million year vet shouldn't need more than a week with the new, fully functional, snapper-holder combo.

Don't sweat it NP, MC has got this!

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PackfanNY's picture

September 06, 2022 at 06:55 am

He’s certainly not perfect on field goals but he’s been better than most in clutch situations. Everyone will always remember the “misses” and that just goes with the territory. Overall, he’s had a great career. Kicking outside in Lambeau Field is no easy task.

My biggest concern with Crosby is kickoffs. Given that our special teams is suspect (?) it would be nice if he had a better touchback percentage. Too many times his kicks are at the goal line or worse. The Packers give up field position and it’s been a problem. Rooting against Father Time but I hope this improves.

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mrtundra's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:14 am

Yep, kicking the ball to the 15 yard line, on kick offs, is not what you want to see, from a kicker.

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T7Steve's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:41 am

I thought the same thing about kickoffs all summer.

On the other hand, if STs is now where it should be, it'd be nice to get high hang time and drop it inside the 5 so they have to return it. Seems like 75% of the time there's a penalty let alone if we have good coverage. Good teams have been doing that to the Packers for years because we sucked sooo bad. They've been running it out of the end zone on us allot too.

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wildbill's picture

September 06, 2022 at 10:40 am

I thought this summer they were intentionally kicking short to practice our coverage scheme and to try different players. The real games is where we will find out and I’m hoping for at least a top 20 ranking.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:06 am

One thing we learned last year is kicking FG's is not just on the kicker. Its the whole operation. The snapper, the holder and the kicker. Last year we discovered that our snapper and holder were not good enough. And the blocking, was also terrible.

Last year we found out how much of a difference the long snapper can make. While we have a new long snapper, I felt Coco was already better then what we had last year. The snaps seemed to be on point. I also like hearing how during camp he was constantly staying after practice trying to perfect it.
O'Donnell definitely seems to be much better as a holder as well.

I don't have any worries about Crosby. Even though he hasn't kicked in preseason, he is a veteran who knows how to handle it. The operation seems to be better as well. We will have to see how blocking is. I still have nightmares of watching Lancaster block no one.

One thing I have wondered about is if they would consider bringing up Ahmed for this first game to maybe handle kickoffs or something just to help with Crosby. I don't think the odds are high that it would happen. Its just something I have thought that they may consider doing since Crosby just started kicking this week.

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mrtundra's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:23 am

Watching our LS hike the ball behind our holder, and see our LS watch the disaster unfold between his legs, instead of blocking someone, as defenders are in the backfield, was recipe for disaster. Hopefully no more of that. I wonder how much of that crap Bisaccia had to watch, when he got to GB, and then wondered why he took job?

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2022 at 08:00 am

I really don't have to see our Special teams as the best unit in the league. I just want them to not be the worst. We aren't asking for a lot. Better coverage units and hopefully better blocking. Bisaccia has his work cut out for him, but I don't think he has a ton of expectations put on him either. Just don't be the worst.

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dobber's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:28 am

"One thing I have wondered about is if they would consider bringing up Ahmed for this first game to maybe handle kickoffs or something just to help with Crosby."

I was happy to see him on the PS (finally). In all honesty, I'd be giving Crosby about 6 weeks: the first couple to round into shape and the next few to show he wasn't the problem. If he's still erratic...well, they can get similarly erratic kickers off the street who are far cheaper and who can kick the ball through the endzone.

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RCPackerFan's picture

September 06, 2022 at 08:09 am

I am really happy Ahmed got officially signed to the PS. He looked really good in the preseason. Most people that were at every practiced had said out of all the guys they have brought in over the years Ahmed actually looks like he could potentially be Crosby's future replacement. That is pretty good praise for a guy they just brought in a few weeks ago.

It may take Crosby a few weeks to get going. But i feel like he will be good. The snapping and holding will be a big part of that. The blocking is something to keep an eye on. Last year I felt Crosby was starting to feel the pressure. I believe it was the 49ers game that he almost had a kicked block. Not long after that he was pushing the ball to the right.

Hopefully all of that will be corrected.

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wildbill's picture

September 06, 2022 at 10:44 am

Agree, no confidence in the blocking would make you rush your kicks. Doesn’t take much to be off your point

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Coldworld's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:11 am

There is always a question with any older player over when is a year too far. Was last year the warning blamed in the supporting cast or not? I tend to think Crosby was just disrupted by his snapper and holder, but I’d have been a lot happier if the team could have seen that in practices rather than just assuming.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:17 am

Thanks Cory for looking under the bed and in the closet for any and all possible monsters.

You didn't find any, IMO.

Better luck next time!

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HarryHodag's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:49 am

I noticed the Packers were quick to resign Ahmed to the practice squad. I think the Packers realize they have an aging kicker coming off surgery and are trying to protect the bases. Crosby's predilection toward the 'yips' also has to be a concern.
Ahmed has shown he has the leg but Crosby knows how to kick in cold weather. O'Donnell appears to be a competent holder.

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PatrickGB's picture

September 06, 2022 at 08:33 am

They kept JJ Molson on the PS last year too. Teams have really struggled when their kicker gets injured and have to frantically search for a competitive kicker at the last moment. Some teams even have two on the active roster. I have seen other teams have a kicker who just does kickoffs. Tony Romo (who is decent at golf) talked about kickers like golfers. Sometimes they get in a mental rut when dealing with stress. Crosby does not. He just seems calm no matter what the circumstance.

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wildbill's picture

September 06, 2022 at 10:45 am

I think they also kept a kicker due to the Covid rules

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 06, 2022 at 08:53 pm

Ahmed looked real good this preseason but was just a 75% kicker in the USFL. You really don't know how a guy is going to do until the pressure is on.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2022 at 08:12 am

Best kicker in Packers history. Better than Marcol, better than Longwell.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 06, 2022 at 09:41 am

Not better than Longwell. Longwell is 34th in career FG% , Crosby is 52nd in an era when those percentages are higher than ever.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2022 at 12:06 pm

Of course that's the way you'd see it. One stat, career percentage,sums it all up for you.

I saw Longwell. He was a great kicker for us. But I think Crosby is the best kicker the Packers have ever had, all things considered. The organization has done a very good job with the kicker position for a long time. A few clunkers, but not many.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2022 at 12:22 pm

Mason Crosby played more games, kicked more FGs, made many more FGs, and scored many more points for us. Crosby also has a much higher touchback percentage on kickoffs.

But yeah, Longwell made 81.6% of his FGs for us, and Crosby only has made 81.1%. So he's been almost imperceptibly more accurate, although Crosby has attempted and made many more long FGs than Longwell did for us.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 06, 2022 at 03:03 pm

Yeah just ignore the averages on FGs from different periods and TOTALLY ignore the fact they moved up kickoffs in 2010. Unreal.

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GregC's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:07 pm

It would be interesting to see the breakdown of field goal percentage by yardages (40-49, 50+, etc). It seems like Crosby has had to attempt lots of long field goals, but I'm not sure of that. I tried to look up these stats for the entire careers of kickers, but I couldn't find it.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 06, 2022 at 08:25 pm

Crosby is 42 of 74 from 50+(56.7%). Longwell was 24 of 39 from 50+(61.5%). Kickers in general attempt and make a lot more FGs from that range these days. Justin Tucker is a 72% kicker from 50+ for comparison.

Crosby has been just good enough not to try and replace. I'm not poo-pooing that, usually there's some growing pains when teams switch kickers and they can derail a season so there's something to be said for a guy lasting as long as he has. But, in terms of FG %, the 16th best kicker was at 87% last year. Crosby has finished with a % better than that 3 times. That's not great, not good actually.

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/C/CrosMa20.htm

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GregC's picture

September 06, 2022 at 09:41 pm

That's a good stat, thanks. Yeah, I've never thought of Crosby as a great kicker. But I think he's been good, and I agree that his longevity has saved the Packers some potential hassles in breaking in new kickers. Lambeau Field is one of the toughest stadiums to kick in, so I give him some leeway for that as well.

I was ready for the Packers to move on from Crosby after last season, but they didn't. Ahmed was late coming into the picture and would probably be too much of a gamble at this point.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 07, 2022 at 03:57 am

A couple of years ago I checked each game over several seasons and determined that the opposing kickers made a higher percentage of field goals than Crosby had done in the same games. In most years, the opposing teams' kicker did better than Crosby. Clearly, Crosby would have "won" 2019 and certainly 2020 (100% on just 16 FGs). I assumed that distance and perhaps kicking with the wind versus into the wind would be a wash over multiple seasons. I also think Crosby was overpaid.

That said, I thought Crosby had been very solid in playoff games (88.6% - 31 of 35, including 2 of 4 from 50+). I also thought without looking at any stats that Crosby was good under pressure, such as making a field goal to win or tie a game. That's why I never fully joined Wied's vendetta against Crosby while acknowledging the many statistics he brought to bear on Crosby.

Good enough not to try to replace is fair, or perhaps no reason to make any concerted effort to replace him is closer to the mark.

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GregC's picture

September 07, 2022 at 05:50 am

I was wondering about how Crosby has done head-to-head against other kickers. Thanks for looking into that. There should be a stat for it. I think punters should be judged in the same way, and when I watch a game I often keep a mental tally of which punter is "winning." With kickers, it's less meaningful in a particular game, because the lengths of the attempts are going to vary quite a bit, but you are right that those differences should even out when you look at multiple games.

One more thought I had on Crosby vs. Longwell was that Longwell's stats could be inflated by kicking for the Vikings in his later years and therefore playing in more indoor games. But if you just look at the Packers stats, Longwell still edges out Crosby in terms of percentages. For 50+ yard attempts, it's 59.1% to 56.8%. That's not a huge difference, however.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 07, 2022 at 01:54 pm

I'm certainly not as against him as Wied is but I will give him credit for making me notice Crosby isn't as good as I thought. I just assumed he wasn't a top tier kicker but an upper tier one but he really is more of a middle tier guy.

Agree on him being overpaid. It has a "we don't feel like making a transition here right now" feel to it.

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barutanseijin's picture

September 06, 2022 at 11:27 pm

Has he made that many long ones?

He was billed as a big leg kicker coming out of college, but he’s never lived up to that in the pros. His accuracy on longer kicks has never been great & even early in his career his kickoffs were surprisingly short.

After 2012, MM tended not to attempt 50+ yarders, perhaps to bolster Crosby’s confidence, perhaps because he didn’t trust Crosby with long ones. It was a good move, because Crosby improved greatly

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Johnblood27's picture

September 06, 2022 at 10:24 am

...and Jacke???

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2022 at 12:31 pm

Jacke was our kicker for 8 years, and Crosby has been our kicker for 16 years. Additionally, Crosby has a better percentage on touchbacks and FGs.

He was a good kicker for us for 8 years. That's pretty good. Longwell gave us 9. Crosby is beginning his 17th season, I believe. And he's been pretty good every season, except for that season where he had the yips.

Best kicker we've ever had. A great pick by Thompson. In his very first game, he kicked the game winner as the clock ran out. Last year,, we won games in SF and Cincinnati with a FG at the end. A FG was the margin of victory at Arizona and Baltimore. He's helped us win a lot of games .

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 06, 2022 at 03:17 pm

Marcol is such a different era that it's almost impossible to compare him. Jacke was a good FG K for his era but not great. Longwell was a really good K for his era and Crosby has been an ok FG K for his era. His longevity will probably get him into the Packers HOF.

But FG percentages are much higher now than 20-25 years ago when Longwell played. Of the top 10 in career FG percentage only the 9th and 10th guys aren't playing now. Very silly not to take eras into account. What we do know is Crosby isn't close to being top 10. If you throw out his worst season(2012) he only moves from 52 to 39 on highest FG % list. To get an idea of how much it has changed the highest K on that list that started and finished his career in the last century is Nick Lowery at 67th.

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2022 at 03:29 pm

You talk like a guy who never saw him play and only knows what it says on the stat sheet.

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LLCHESTY's picture

September 06, 2022 at 08:30 pm

You talk like a guy that likes to be wrong and then stubbornly defenses his position even if he knows he's wrong. Crosby has been an ok kicker, not a good one and certainly not a great one. In an era when kickers are better than ever he is solidly middle of the pack. Just good enough to not be replaced.

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barutanseijin's picture

September 06, 2022 at 11:30 pm

I saw Robbie Gould consistently kick better than Crosby in Lambeau and Soldier’s Field.

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Tundraboy's picture

September 06, 2022 at 07:43 pm

I don't know about that.

Marcol wasalways clutch and at times our best weapon on O. Sometimes he was the Offense

1 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

September 06, 2022 at 09:04 pm

To show what a different era it was for kickers Marcol attempted 16 50+ yard FGs and made 3 of them. Justin Tucker has gone 10 for 10 from 50+ in a season. His all-pro as a rookie in 1972 probably wouldn't keep him on a club now as he only hit 68% of his FGs. Soccer style kicking was in it's infancy and there were basically no coaches to help teach and train those guys.

If he could've stayed sober he did have the leg where he could have kicked for 20 years and might've been considered one of the best kickers of that era. If you want to learn how deep the depths of addiction can take a person and how many failures they can go through before eventually getting clean his book is a good read.

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LambeauPlain's picture

September 06, 2022 at 09:03 am

A 38 year old kicker with a surgically repaired knee on his kicking leg coming off his 2nd worst pro season is ordinarily reason for deep concern.

Mason has actually kicked less than 80% of his Packer field goals 7 out of his 15 years (8 times over 80%).

But he was on a great streak before last season. He is just 1 year removed from kicking 100% of his goals. And this is Mason Crosby. I am expecting a strong rebound (unless he proves differently).

4 points
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dobber's picture

September 06, 2022 at 10:33 am

Here's hoping they don't need him at all except for PATs.

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wildbill's picture

September 06, 2022 at 10:47 am

Yea but seems to make the vast majority of important kicks. Have no numbers to back that up, just a erratic memory

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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2022 at 12:33 pm

People don't like it when you mention that we made 100% of our FGs in 2020 because it doesn't fit the narrative of our special teams being terrible forever.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 07, 2022 at 04:07 am

I am not so sure that Green Bay's special teams being terrible for most of the last decade is just a narrative.

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coolhand's picture

September 06, 2022 at 10:24 am

Well is seemed Ahmed had no issues with the new special teams line up, and that was with very few starters in the line up. Crosby should have no issues adjusting as well, I hope.

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splitpea1's picture

September 06, 2022 at 11:16 am

If the Packers have doubts about Crosby's ability to make field goals beyond 40 yards or reach the end zone with his kickoffs, then they should have gone with an alternative. I'm glad we have Ahmed waiting in the wings should the old vet get in the habit of missing routine kicks...which hopefully won't happen with a better holder and protection.

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Lphill's picture

September 06, 2022 at 12:23 pm

how crazy would it be if Crosby's first kick against the Vikings is a dud ?

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T7Steve's picture

September 06, 2022 at 12:31 pm

No negative vibs please. It's game week!

3 points
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Leatherhead's picture

September 06, 2022 at 12:35 pm

IF we lose a close one, regardless of what the offense or defense does, it'll be blamed on our special teams that have just been pathetic forever.

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