Heading in to the 2023 offseason the Green Bay Packers had a question mark over the Kicker position. Would they retain their veteran kicker, and all-time franchise points leader, Mason Crosby? Or would they move on? That question was answered when in April they drafted Anders Carlson out of Auburn in the sixth round. Mason Crosby would not receive an offer from the Packers and would be a Free Agent.
That was it, after 16 seasons, someone not-named Mason Crosby would be the Kicker of the Green Bay Packers. Crosby had his ups and downs, but the majority of the time, he was a sure thing. There was rarely a time when Crosby would line up for a game-winning Field Goal that Packer’s faithful were nervous. I’m glad I got to witness in-person his final game-sealing Field Goal in overtime against Dallas this past season. Crosby has definitely left some big shoes to fill in a Packers jersey.
Anders Carlson Kicks Off
From the start of Training Camp, Anders Carlson was a bit shaky. Leading up to Family Night on August 5th, Carlson had gone 5 for 12 on FG attempts. Eyebrows were being raised, but then in front of a Lambeau crowd for Family Night, he was nearly perfect hitting 8 for 9. His only failed attempt of the evening had come from a mishap with the snap and hold. So, hey, maybe it was early camp jitters, nothing to worry about, right? He’ll bounce back.
In practice the following week, Carlson was still pretty decent as he headed into the real test, the first preseason game of the season. To kick it off, Carlson passed with flying colors drilling his first three attempts going 3 for 3. But he followed it up with two extra-point misses. Despite those two initial successful attempts, those next two were extra points. Those should be automatic for kickers. Instantly the question marks went up and discussions were had on the outside about bringing in some kicking competition.
Despite these concerns, patience was preached at 1265 Lombardi Ave and no kickers were brought in for competition the following week. The next week in practice, Carlson continued with the inconsistency. He was up and down in joint practices with the Patriots and continued to face criticism from the outside heading in to his Lambeau Preseason debut. But Anders Carlson rose to the occasion drilling two extra points and also nailing a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds of the 2nd quarter. That last kick was absolutely a rocket boost for his confidence, especially in front of the home crowd.
Carlson once again was up and down in camp practices this week. For the final practice of Training Camp, Coach LaFleur decided to ramp up the pressure. He had the team surround Carlson lined up for a 50-yard field goal and try their best to distract him. The kicker was being squirted with water, players were yelling and singing as Carlson’s first attempt was wide right. Instantly everyone wanted another shot. So LaFleur obliged and they started up again with the noise. This time, Carlson split the up-rights and his teammates celebrated around him to wrap up Training Camp.
His final test before it counts, comes Saturday vs the Seattle Seahawks.
Without a doubt, the Packers have shown a lot of patience with their rookie kicker. As said before, despite the noise from the outside, the team has remained patient with Anders Carlson. That noise grew louder on Thursday when Mason Crosby posted a video to Twitter/X of him drilling a Field Goal along with the message that he’s staying prepared. Fans remain very split on whether or not the Packers should bring back the veteran.
This season just might be the perfect time to just let a rookie kicker find his way. The expectations for the Packers are low. They’re assumed to be in a rebuilding or retooling phase, and no one expects a big season. So, a few missed FGs or XPs don’t matter right? Well, what if they do matter? The expectations outside of Green Bay may not be high, but Packers fans think there could be a chance this team is a bit of a surprise. Therefore, the last thing you want is a shaky kicker killing games for you. So, if Carlson indeed continues to be a question, that patience is going to be tested.
If there’s one thing Anders Carlson has going well in his favor, it’s his Special Teams coach. Rich Bisaccia is well-known for his patience and guidance of his players. Coincidentally, Carlson’s brother, Daniel was coached by Bisaccia with the Raiders. Daniel Carlson was released by the Vikings after week 2 of his rookie season when he missed a Field Goal in regulation and two in overtime. He was picked up a few weeks later by the Raiders and while being coached by Bisaccia, Daniel Carlson went on to become, and continues to be one of the best kickers in the league.
Unless there are just some awful showings in the coming weeks, I think the Packers should continue on with Anders Carlson. He has shown he has the leg talent. When it comes to actual game situations, in a packed stadium, Carlson has gone 14 of 17 so far in camp. There will likely be a long leash to start, and with Bisaccia’s guidance, I think Anders Carlson will be able to develop a confidence and rhythm and hopefully join his brother at the top of the league’s kicker rankings.
Greg Meinholz is a lifelong devoted Packer fan. A contributor to PackersTalk as well as CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter at @gmeinholz. for Packers commentary, random humor, beer endorsements, and occasional Star Wars and Marvel ramblings.