As many know one of the greatest special teams tandems in the history of football parted ways this year as punter Shane Lechler bolted on his longtime kicking partner in Sebastian Janikowski to move on to play for the Houston Texans. While the Raiders have replaced Lechler at punter quite well with the young prospect Marquette King they appear to be missing something that is equally as valuable: his holds.
Janikowski who didn’t miss one field goal from inside 50 yards, missed a 48 yarder against the Indianapolis Colts in Week One before missing one from even closer on Sunday against the Jaguars, missing a 35 yard chip shot that was on the turf leaving no excuse of the infield dirt for SeaBass. That 35 yard miss was the first miss from within 40 yards in 50 tries, leading many to believe that King’s holds might be the root of all the missing.
Here is a photographic comparison of King and Lechler’s holds:
As you can see there appears to be a bit of a fundamental issue with King’s holds as the punter (who is raw at holding) tends to keep his hands close to the football compared to Lechler who perfected the art of the hold, pinning the ball perfectly with one finger and his off hand tucked into his body.
Here is a more zoomed in photo (King on the top, Lechler on the bottom)
Kind of interesting to compare King and Lechler when it comes to holding for Seabass pic.twitter.com/oAi8p6bCP3
— B (@BHOAK510) September 16, 2013
That photo shows the inexperience that King has as he hasn’t developed an automatic routine when it comes to holding long snaps. King is turning into the best young punter in the league and gave the Raiders some great field position when punting in their own territory, but holding doesn’t appear to be one of the talents that comes easy to the natural athlete. With such an automatic kicker in Janikowski, those little changes in hand and ball position may seem small, but they could be creating a big impact.
There is obviously an extremely small sample size for King when it comes to holds compared to the best punter of the modern in era in Lechler, but if King can’t perfect his fundamentals in the holding game and Janikowski continues to miss kicks the questions around his holding ability are going to continue.
Nobody is going to blame Janikowski, the Raiders fan favorite and someone respected by nearly everyone in football, so the pressure is on King to ensure that SeaBass doesn’t miss anymore kicks in 2013. If not expect Oakland to go with a backup quarterback to handle their holding duties, something that would be a minor change considering King has locked up his roster spot due to his own booming leg in the punting game.