Last year on the 49ers, David Akers ranked 30th in the NFL in field goal accuracy. This year on the Lions, Akers ranks 29th in field goal accuracy. So with back-to-back seasons near the bottom of the league, is it time to accept that the soon-to-be 39-year-old Akers just doesn’t have it anymore?
Not according to Lions coach Jim Schwartz, who continues to back Akers despite a missed 31-yard field goal on Thursday against the Packers. In fact, Schwartz said he approached Akers right after that miss at the end of the second quarter and told him that the team was ready to go to him if it needed a clutch field goal late in the game.
“I told him after halftime that if we need a game-winner, we’re going to put him right back up,” Schwartz said, via the Detroit Free Press. “We’re not going to be going for it on fourth down.”
As it turned out, the Lions didn’t attempt any field goals in the second half, but Schwartz said he was pleased to see Akers make all three extra points.
“You watch his next extra point, he stepped up, he drilled it. He bounced back,” Schwartz said.
That’s great, but NFL kickers are supposed to drill extra points. And they’re supposed to drill 31-yard field goals. If the Lions need a game-winning field goal next month with a playoff berth on the line, it’s hard to believe that Schwartz will be completely confident in Akers.
Akers doesn’t handle kickoffs for the Lions, but that’s also an area of concern in Detroit: Punter Sam Martin booted two kickoffs out of bounds on Thursday. If the Lions could find a kicker who can kick field goals and kickoffs long and straight, that would give their special teams a significant boost as they attempt to win the NFC North. Cutting Kickalicious may have been a mistake.