Detroit Lions kicker David Akers had a rough game on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. He missed both of his two field goal attempts, and unofficially, he missed three total on the day. Two of those attempts were outright misses (on back-to-back plays), while the other was blocked. At the end of the day, the Lions could have really used an extra 6 points considering they lost by a score of 25-21 (granted, that was after Arizona missed a 2-point conversion).
As expected, calls for the Lions to bring back Havard Rugland started as soon as Akers missed a 52-yard attempt in the first quarter (it went wide left). He got another chance thanks to a running into the kicker penalty, but he pushed the 47-yarder wide right. The outrage directed at Akers and the Lions for not keeping Rugland was only amplified by the second miss.
After Sunday's game, Jim Schwartz suggested that Akers missed the second kick because of the hit he took when he was roughed -- not simply run into -- on the first attempt.
Schwartz says Akers was roughed (not "run into") on the initial FG, which "shook him up" prior to the second one. #DETvsAG— Detroit Lions (@DetroitLionsNFL) September 15, 2013
Akers did receive some attention from trainers after his misses, and Sam Martin was even taking practice kicks at one point. Akers ended up being healthy enough to continue kicking, as he did the Lions' extra points. He also was the kicker when the Lions attempted a 47-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game. Had he made it, the Lions would have had a 24-19 lead, but the kick was instead blocked. This wasn't on Akers, though. Just look at what happened on the right side of the Lions' line:
That's defensive end Israel Idonije whiffing on Justin Bethel, who blocked the kick. Bethel was the one who took the penalty for running into Akers earlier in the game, so clearly he was already getting a pretty a good jump on Idonije. On the 47-yard attempt that was blocked, Idonije leaned inside and wasn't able to recover to catch Bethel. He threw his arm out there, but Bethel ran right by him to block the kick.
So, to recap, Akers is now 2 for 4 on the season. He made both of his attempts in Week 1 and missed both of his attempts in Week 2. His first official miss may have been the result of Bethel running into him, and the unofficial miss before that could have been caused by how quickly Bethel got into the backfield. On his second official miss, Akers stood no chance with Bethel flying in past Idonije.
Am I making excuses for Akers? Yeah, I guess so. But my general point is that we're not even close to the point where cutting Akers and bringing back Rugland is a realistic scenario. After what I saw on Sunday, I'm more concerned about the fact that the Cardinals seemingly saw something on tape and capitalized on it by getting such good pressure on Akers' kicks.
Now, is it fair to be concerned about Akers' durability and ability to consistently make kicks? Sure, especially when he's kicking against the Cardinals.
Fun fact: David Akers stinks against AZ. Since 2011, he has missed 9 FGA (8 official) in 5 gms vs AZ, three blocked (@prideofdetroit)— Revenge of the Birds (@revengeofbirds) September 16, 2013
I certainly understand the frustration -- I really do. But Akers is trying to replace Jason Hanson, and he's basically in a situation where every missed kick results in the fan favorite from training camp being brought up. Here's the thing: Unless Akers starts shanking kicks left and right on a consistent basis and makes it perfectly clear that he can't be relied upon, it's silly to even bring up the possibility of Rugland or any other kicker being brought in to replace him. You may dislike this, but the Lions aren't going to ship out Akers after a couple misses, especially when one of those misses was because of a blocked kick. He went 7 for 8 on kicks in the preseason, and he was perfect last week. A change isn't even a consideration right now.
Could the situation change if Akers ends up struggling in the next couple weeks or if there's an injury? Certainly. But right now I think everybody needs to take a deep breath when it comes to the Rugland talk. His story is great, but if he were as great as everybody seems to think, he wouldn't be a free agent right now.
The fact of the matter is that the Lions remain confident in Akers' ability, and missed field goals happen. If they become a regular thing like they were with Akers last year, then a change may be warranted. For now, though, the Lions simply need to make sure they're doing a good enough job of blocking to even give Akers a shot at making his kicks.