Dear NFL Coaches, Icing the Kicker Helps Him!

admin Last updated on: February 17, 2024

Over the past few years, NFL coaches have suddenly become obsessed with calling a time out right before the snap during a key field goal by the opposition. The idea of icing or freezing the kicker dates back to the days of the two way player.

Old school coaches were taught this “trick” and it has carried on for years.  The thought is to get into the head of kicker.  Let him think about how big the kick is.  The defense can talk a little trash. It gives the fans some time to shout some curses in his direction.  All these ideas are good in theory, but in reality they end up helping the kicker.  Sometimes the kicker will even get a warm-up kick, as right after the kick, the officials call the play off due to a timeout being called by the opposing head coach.  So now you just gave the kicker a test of the wind and surface. I have asked several current kickers, and they all agreed; they like to be iced. Being a former kicker myself I agree, it’s a warm-up kick, very much like how a pitcher gets some warm-up throws.

In recent weeks, the debate was refueled by head coaches Andy Reid (Philadelphia Eagles) and Joe Philbin (Miami Dolphins), who made foolish timeouts to ice kickers.  These calls can be classified as dumb and dumber. Philbin tried to ice New York Jets kicker Nick Folk just as he was kicking the game winning field goal against the Dolphins in overtime.  Folks got his kick off and it was blocked by the Miami special teams unit, but the play was waived off since Philbin called timeout seconds before the kick.  This gave Folk a second attempt at the kick, and he ended up nailing the game winner.

Just a week later, Andy Reid found himself in a similar situation on Sunday Night Football.  The New York Giants trailed the Eagles by two points with just a few seconds to go in the game. The Giants sent on their trustworthy kicker Lawrence Tynes to kick a 54-yard, game-winning field goal.  Tynes got the kick off and it went wide left.  Seemingly, the Eagles had won the game.  But the play didn’t count, as Reid called timeout a second before the kick.  This gave Tynes a second shot to adjust his kick.  Tynes got off what looked like a good kick, but it fell a foot short and the Eagles dodged a huge bullet.

After the Eagles – Giants game, many of the Eagles players, including quarterback Michael Vick, disagreed with his coach’s decision, and NBC’s Tony Dungy called Andy Reid foolish on the post game show. Reid caught a lot heat and his team won.  What if the Eagles had lost?  Being Reid is already on the hot seat, this call could have added to the ongoing debate on whether or not he should be the coach after this season.

So why don’t NFL coaches listen to their kickers and other players?  Is it that they don’t understand the mentality of a kicker?  I would have to say yes; most kickers are added to teams in high school, as some were soccer players that happened to have strong legs.

If one looks over the field percentage of kickers iced and not iced, the numbers would blow you away, but why are NFL stuck in their ways when the numbers are in front of them?  This is the same mind set when soccer-style kickers started entering the NFL in the late 70s, now look at the NFL.   Every kicker has some kind of soccer back ground.  The NFL record for a successful field goal is 63 yards, and has been done four times, with three of those kickers being soccer style kickers.  Tom Dempsey, the original record breaker, was born without toes on his right foot, so unlike other toe-kickers, this gave him an advantage.  Below are the stats of iced and not iced kicker from 2001 to 2011.

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