No Excuses From Rayner

Warpaint Illustrated Publisher
Posted Nov 26, 2007

The worst habit an NFL kicker can develop is inconsistency. When you’re in the kind of funk like the one Chiefs’ kicker Dave Rayner is in right now, every missed kick breeds anxiety from the head coach on down.

With Kansas City winning 17-13 in the fourth quarter Sunday, Rayner lined up for a chip shot field goal, only to pull it well to his left. With that shank, Rayner’s struggles came to a head for the Chiefs, who have clearly lost confidence in him.

When the season began, KC’s fifth-round draft pick, Justin Medlock, was handed the job. He had a reputation as a strong-footed kicker who was quick to the ball. The Chiefs changed his stride to the ball and he was never the same kicker, however.

Rayner soon replaced Medlock and was a quick hit for the Chiefs. He was on a roll during the team’s resurgence to a 4-3 record, but since then it’s been a 50/50 proposition that the ball will get through the uprights.

In Kansas City’s 20-17 loss Sunday, head coach Herm Edwards declined a 43-yard field goal attempt late in the game. Instead, his offense elected to go for it on fourth-and-1. The Chiefs never got the ball back and we’ll never know if Rayner could have made that kick, but Edwards remained confident in his decision.

“At that point in time, I wasn’t going to put that pressure on him,” he said. “I just felt we were running the ball halfway decent and had some yards and thought we could make a yard. I put it on the offensive line and the runner rather than the kicker.”

After the game in the locker room, Rayner was a popular figure with the media. As the press surrounded him, he didn’t back down, failing to offer any excuses for his poor performance.

“Obviously I wanted to kick that last field goal and it’s his decision,” said Rayner. “I didn’t exactly prove that I was stellar.”

Chiefs fans should have hope that Rayner can turn around his poor kicking woes. After all, he wasn’t blaming anyone for his failures.

He could have blamed the deep snapper, who has struggled at times, but JP Darche and holder Dustin Colquitt clearly aren’t the problem, and Rayner knows it.

“I’m not hitting the ball real well,” said Rayner. “I need to get it fixed by next week. I need to get it fixed quick.”

The Chiefs probably won’t bring in another kicker this year, because quite honestly there isn’t much out there to pluck off the waiver wire. They made their bed when they changed Medlock’s approach to the ball and passed on drafting Colorado’s Mason Crosby, who is having a successful rookie season with the Green Bay Packers.

Kansas City is essentially out of the playoff picture, so they might as well stick with Rayner.

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