Night-Mare! the Ugly Stats Behind the Carolina Panthers Kicking Game - Fan’s Analysis

Panthers fans like me were expecting the kicking game to be a strength in 2011. Through Week 15 we are now kicking ourselves for thinking so optimistically.

The Carolina Panthers cut productive veteran and fan-favorite kicker John Kasay prior to the 2011 season, figuring his 41-year-old leg was as worn out as a nursing home Rockettes line. With Kasay gone the Panthers threw a lucrative 4-year, $12 million contract at the younger, bigger, less-gentrified leg of Olindo Mare.

What has subsequently transpired with the Panther kicking game through Week 15 with Olindo Mare has been nothing short of a bad dream for Panthers fans like me.

Call it a Night-Mare.

The classy John Kasay took his supposed Methuselah-esque leg to NFC South division rival New Orleans and has had an outstanding years with his 129 points scored through Week 15 ranking third-best in the league, trailing only fellow kickers David Akers of San Francisco (135) and Dallas' Dan Bailey (132). The Panthers, meanwhile, have arguably the league's worst kicking game. With statistics taken from ESPN.com's NFL Statistics page through Week 15, here is now the Panthers rank in a few of the key kicking categories on the season.

Making Cow Chips of Chip Shots

Field goals attempts from 30-39 yards tend to be considered "chip shots" in the NFL. But through Week 15 the Carolina Panthers have struggled in the short field goal category when compared to the rest of the league.

Field Goals from 30-39 Yards Through Week 15

Carolina - 6 of 9 (66.7%)

Rest of NFL - 184 of 207 (88.9%)

Carolina is one of only eight teams in the NFL with at least nine field goal attempts in the 30-39 yard range, with the Panthers connecting on 66.7% of their attempts. The remaining seven teams with at least nine attempts (Green Bay, Dallas, New Orleans, San Francisco, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Seattle) have connected on a combined 71 of 76 (93.4%) of their opportunities.

Compounding the short-range field goal issues for the Panthers is the fact that two of these misses were late-game flubs that factored heavily into two Carolina losses. Mare shanked a 31-yard game-tying field goal with :29 remaining against the Minnesota Vikings, leading to a 24-21 Carolina loss. More recently in the Week 14 matchup against the Atlanta Falcons, Mare pushed a 36-yarder wide left that would have put the Panthers up by two with five minutes remaining. Carolina went on to lose.

The Long - and Short - of it All

Through Week 15 the longest field goal the Panthers have made is 45 yards, which ranks dead last in the NFL.

Longest Field Goals Through Week 15

28-t. 49 yards, Cincinnati Bengals

28-t. 49 yards, St. Louis Rams

28-t. 49 yards, Pittsburgh Steelers

31. 47 yards, Philadelphia Eagles

32. 45 yards, Carolina Panthers

Granted, Mare has not had many opportunities for longer field goals this year. His only two attempts beyond 45 yards came on a 50-yard miss against Tennessee and a 52-yarder against Chicago. Still, Olindo Mare is the only NFL kicker through Week 15 with at least two 50+ yard attempts without a make. The lack of long field goal opportunities also has to be the question if Mare has simply been a victim of field position, or if the Carolina coaching staff lacks confidence in his long-distance abilities.

Making the Easy Difficult

The Panthers kicking game is also among the worst in the league in extra point percentage. Through Week 15 only six teams have missed extra points, with the Panthers being one of them when an Olindo Mare PAT was blocked in Week 5.

Bottom Five Extra Point Percentage Through Week 15

28. 97.4% (38 of 39), San Diego Chargers

29. 97.4% (37 of 38), Houston Texans

30. 97.3% (36 of 37), Carolina Panthers

31. 96.8% (30 of 31), Cincinnati Bengals

32. 95.7% (22 of 23), Washington Redskins

In a twist of irony that was not lost on Panthers fans, Olindo Mare's Week 5 blocked extra point came against (drum roll, please)…John Kasay's New Orleans Saints. The Panthers went on to lose to the Saints 30-27 as John Kasay nailed field goals from 23, 37, and 46 yards in New Orleans' victory.

As a Panthers fan I am hoping the Carolina kicking game wakes up from its slumber for the last two games of the year.

Until they do, the Night-Mare continues….

Andrew Sweat is a North Carolina resident and loyal Panthers fan. More from this author:

Class vs. Crass: The Firings of John Kasay and Steve Williams

Top 5 Crazy-But-True Carolina Panthers Stats Through Week 14

Epic Fail! The Stats Behind the Panthers Disastrous Punt Return Game

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Updated Friday, Dec 23, 2011