Oakland Raiders: Janikowski is more valuable than you think

After 14 seasons as the Oakland Raiders’ starting kicker, Sebastian Janikowski is the team’s all-time leading scorer. You might think when a team’s kicker is the leading scorer with 1,489 career points there are some serious problems with their offense. And we all know that the Raiders offense has struggled for a majority of the 14 years Janikowski has been on the team, but it would have been much worse without the consistency of Janikowski.

Janikowski has an overall field goal percentage of 79.9%, making 345 out of his total 432 field goal attempts. He has only missed 3 extra points in his career going 454 for 457, not to mention his average yardage on kickoffs is over 60 yards in each of his 14 seasons.

Oakland Raiders

Raiders kicker, Sebastian Janikowski

The numbers don’t lie; without a doubt, Janikowski has been a crucial part of the Raiders scoring. He is also a kicker who doesn’t shy away from the pressure-filled life that most kickers dread when they are drafted. Janikowski has kicked 13 game-winning field goals in his career, which is proof that he lives for the pressure.

Janikowski’s name has also been thrown around as one of the longest kickers in the NFL. In each of his 14 seasons, his long is usually in the mid to high fifties, showing up on the list of longest field goals more than any other kicker (3). In 2011 he booted a field goal of 63 yards, which is only 1 yard short of Matt Prater’s NFL record 64-yarder. Matt Prater’s record-setting field goal occurred just last season, which leaves Janikowski plenty of time to beat the record.

After the 2012 season, Janikowski’s contract was ending and he was turning 35 years old in the offseason, so Raiders’ General Manager Reggie McKenzie had an important decision to make. Was Janikowski past his prime? When McKenzie took a look at the numbers the answer to that question was clear. Janikowski went 31-34 in field goals, which is an outstanding 91.2%. He was 21-21 in extra points and averaged 62.5 yards on kickoffs with 38 touchbacks and only 30 returned kicks.

Once again Janikowski’s numbers jump off the page, which led McKenzie to organize a 4-year contract extension right before last season. Usually when player’s sign contract extensions, they seem to take the following season lightly because they know they have a job. Janikowski’s numbers did drop significantly when it came to field goals (that season he made 21-30 field goals, which is only 70%), but he continued to stay perfect in extra points and his kickoffs stayed right around where they were in 2012.

Does this mean Janikowski is on a steady decline? This coming season will be the true test, but I don’t think that is the case. With Denver Broncos kicker, Matt Prater, in the same division, I think Janikowski has plenty of motivation to get back to those 2012 numbers and to also kick a 65-yarder to beat Prater’s record.

Janikowski’s motivation doesn’t stop there. He is still striving to be the best NFL kicker ever, considering he is one of very few kickers that has ever been drafted in the first round (17th overall) of the 2000 draft. He was also named all-pro and a pro-bowler in 2011 and holds four NFL records: longest overtime field goal (57 yards, 2008), most 60+ yard fields goals in a career (2), most 50+ yard field goals in a single game (3), and most 40+yard field goals in a single game (4).

Janikowski may be getting older, but that just means he is thinking more than ever about the legacy he will be leaving behind. He has three more seasons with the Raiders before I think he will retire as the best kicker in Raiders history and hopefully in NFL history as well.

 

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