It's no secret to anyone that the Miami Dolphins are having some issues with their kickers. Former fifth-round draft pick Caleb Sturgis has been struggling to make kicks beyond 40 yards and always seems to be fighting injuries, and undrafted free agent out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Andrew Franks has not been impressive during mini-camp drills.
Perhaps the solution to this problem is someone who isn't yet on the roster, although he used to be. Veteran kicker Jay Feely spent one year with the Dolphins in 2007, and that ironically enough was his best year, as he went 21 for 23 (91.3%) with his only misses coming from 40-49 yards out.
The 39-year old Feely has a career percentage of 82.6%, and while that may seem rather bad for an NFL kicker, let's take into consideration that Adam Vinatieri, who is considered one of the greatest placekickers in NFL history, has a career kicking percentage of 83.7%.
As for the Dolphins current kicker, he has had severe issues with his accuracy. Sturgis has a career 77.5% conversion rate on field goals, and he connected on only 78.4% last year, ranking him 28th in the league. Sturgis has also struggled from long distances in his career, missing 7 of 13 attempts from beyond 50 yards and 6 of 20 attempts from 40-49 yards.
Clearly, Sturgis' injury problems have had a lot to do with his accuracy problems, but with how often the young man has been injured, it's possible that it may be a better choice to bring in a reliable old man (so to speak) to bring some stability to the kicker position. Jay Feely would certainly fit that bill.
Now here's where my concern comes in. Feely is clearly a better kicker than Sturgis despite the fact that he was a teenager by the time Sturgis was even born, but he is also what I consider a "celebrity kicker", and I can't help but place him in the same category as Colts punter Pat McAfee, who recently came out and implied that Ryan Tannehill was not worthy of the contract he signed this offseason.
Naturally, McAfee came out and said that was not what he said, which means that the context of the comments were removed, and you all know how I feel about context. I wrote an entire column on it for crying out loud. But one thing I can safely say is that - no matter what the context of a comment is - one should be careful about what they say in public. There are very few people like me who actually try to analyze context, and they will take whatever's said at face value.
Feely has never been shy about talking, appearing on several sports shows on ESPN, such as First Take which focuses on the latest news in sports and gives opinions from its two analysts. The latest comments made by Feely were focused on now Eagles quarterback Tim Tebow, and obviously anything associated with Tebow instantly becomes news, for better or worse.
Feely was on the set of “Jim Rome on Showtime” when he made those comments, and truthfully there isn't any room to think that maybe he didn't mean them in a way that was critical. His comments were quite straightforward.
“He was the single worst quarterback I ever saw in my career in the NFL.” Feely said. "He had like 13 incompletions in routes on air,” He told the host regarding a passing drill he referred to as "routes on air", which features no interference from defenders. “Jim, you and I could go out and do routes on air, and we’d complete most of our passes.”
Whether you agree with Feely or not, the fact that he's so straightforward with his comments indicate that he has no issue speaking his mind when he feels like it, and that could lead to some controversy in a locker room and particularly in the media, just as Colts punter Pat McAfee recently did.
If you want to bring in Jay Feely for his kicking ability, that's perfectly understandable and I would be all for it, but I would always be worried about that possibility that Feely may say something he shouldn't and cause a problem, especially since the Dolphins pretty much went out of their way to remove any problem players this offseason.
So now I ask this question to all of you. Do you bring in Feely's leg - and subsequently his mouth - to ensure that the kicker position isn't a concern on the field, or do you keep the chemistry of the locker room intact and trust that Caleb Sturgis will get healthy and bounce back? If you wish, leave a comment below or send a tweet my way. I would love to hear what you have to say.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @FLSportDebater
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