The Proving Ground: Ryan Succop’s Year to Shine
By Miles Yi
The Kansas City Chiefs’ training camp begins Friday, July 27, and there will be several heated positional battles, including at wide receiver, middle linebacker, cornerback, safety, offensive guard, third-string quarterback and tight end. But one position where there will be no competition is for placekicker, with fifth-year veteran Ryan Succop firmly locked into place and no other kicker on the roster.
Succop, chosen last in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Chiefs out of the University of South Carolina, has been a steal, particularly in his rookie season when he ranked 10th among all kickers in field goal accuracy. But since then, Succop’s accuracy has dipped. Let’s take a closer look, focusing on three categories: overall field goal accuracy, accuracy from 50 yards or more and accuracy under 50 yards.
Overall Field Goal Accuracy
I think this statistic is the most important for field goals, rather than points scored, because a kicker can’t control when he kicks – he can only control which kicks he makes. In his rookie season, Succop was outstanding, making almost nine out of every 10 attempts. But since then, his numbers have dropped a bit, as has his overall ranking in the League:
Field Goal Accuracy at 50 Yards or Greater
I like this statistic because it tells us whether the Chiefs can reliably go for three from the 33-yard line or greater, rather than having to punt. When the Chiefs are forced to punt and the opponent then scores a touchdown, the Chiefs are on the short end of a 10-point swing versus a four-point swing if Succop nails the field goal. That swing is enough to lose plenty of games. Succop has improved dramatically with these long kicks — in fact, he hasn’t missed one in two years:
Field Goal Accuracy at 50 Yards or Less
This statistic is equally important — do the Chiefs have reliable insurance on “gimme” kicks? There’s nothing that hurts as much as driving all the way down the field, and then coming away with nothing when you should at least have three points. Here again, Succop’s performance has actually declined since 2009, with a low point in 2011:
With field goals of 50 yards or more, the Chiefs have literally one of the best kickers in the league. But where Succop needs to show improvement this year is with those kicks that he just cannot miss: under 50 yards. By way of comparison, in 2012, there were four kickers who did not miss a single kick under 50 yards:
Dan Bailey, Cowboys, 26-26
Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders, 25-25
Steve Hauschka, Seahawks, 23-23
Nick Novak, Chargers, 16-16
You may remember that last name; the Chiefs signed Novak in 2008 but cut him after just one month with the team. He ranked eighth in the NFL in overall accuracy last year.
In 2012, Bailey and Phil Dawson from Cleveland were the best kickers in the league, each hitting 29-of-31 field goals for an incredible 93.5 percent accuracy rating (Kai Forbath with the Redskins hit on 94.4 percent of his attempts but had just 18 attempts). Let’s hope new special teams coach Dave Toub and assistant special teams coach Kevin O’Dea can fine-tune Succop’s accuracy under 50 yards, so Succop can get back to being one of the top 10 placekickers in the NFL, and the Chiefs can cash in on points each and every time in the red zone.
Addicts, what do you think? Can Succop improve his game and become an elite kicker in the NFL?!