After releasing Alex Henery last Monday, the Detroit Lions signed Matt Prater on Tuesday. Prater became their third kicker this season, and the hope was that he would finally solve their historically bad field-goal woes.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Prater did not solve the Lions' kicking woes on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. In fact, he contributed to them with a pair of misses. He went 1-for-3 on the day, making a kick from 52 yards and missing kicks from 50 and 44 yards. Neither miss was an outright shank or anything like that, but it was frustrating to see the Lions' new kicker miss two field goals after only having one miss all of last season.
Despite Prater's struggles on Sunday, it doesn't look like another kicker change is in the offing, at least not for now. After Sunday's game, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell made it clear that he is still confident in Prater's abilities, and he pointed to the swirling wind at TCF Bank Stadium as a reason behind Prater's misses.
Caldwell on Prater's misses: "We have all the confidence in the world on him"— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) October 12, 2014
Caldwell on Matt Prater: "We feel good about him." Said wind was an issue for FGs.— Josh Katzenstein (@jkatzenstein) October 12, 2014
It was indeed quite windy on Sunday, so hopefully that was the main reason behind Prater's struggles. With the Lions back at home next week, Prater will get to kick indoors, meaning the wind won't be a concern. Of course, this also means the wind won't be an excuse if Prater happens to miss any kicks next week. Should that happen, the Lions will have to take a serious look at making changes beyond the kicker position. Prater didn't have an issue with the snaps or holds on Sunday, but unless the team is simply cursed, something more than just poor kicking has to be contributing to all of these misses.
In any case, we're well beyond the point of ridiculousness when it comes to the Lions' kicking game. Field goals in the NFL, even from beyond 40 yards, should be made much more often than not. The Lions just can't seem to get the job done for whatever reason, though, and at least for another week, there's going to be more and more talk about their struggles on field goals.