Seahawks move from Hauschka to Walsh is great for the team

CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: Blair Walsh
CHICAGO, IL - NOVEMBER 01: Blair Walsh /
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SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 22: Kicker Steven Hauschka
SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 22: Kicker Steven Hauschka /

The Seahawks let former phenom kicker Steven Hauschka walk and replaced him with former phenom kicker Blair Walsh. What did the Seahawks gain by this move?

The Seahawks relied on the talented right foot of Steven Hauschka for the past six seasons. Up until last season, Hauschka had been as close to automatic as any kicker in the league. On kicks of less than 40 yards, he was 58 of 59 for Seattle, and hadn’t missed since 2011. He was nearly as good on extra points. Through 2015, he had made 206 of 211 extra points.

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In 2016, things changed. I can’t say the wheels came off, but the rims sure were shaky. His field goal percentage dropped a bit from 2015’s 93.5 percent. At 89.2, it was actually the third best field goal percentage of his career. The problem was extra points. Or to be clear, the not extra points. Hauschka missed six in 2016. Compounded by his four missed extra points in 2015, it’s understandable the Seahawks may have lost a bit of faith in their kicker.

Enter Blair Walsh. Walsh was on a similar career path as Hauschka. In his case, he had been the Minnesota Vikings kicker for the past five seasons. Hauschka had bounced from the Baltimore Ravens to the Denver Broncos before locking into his job with the Seahawks. Walsh had only played with the Vikings. Both were renowned as among the best kickers ever for their respective teams.

2016 raises its ugly head for both kickers

Then as it did for Hauschka, 2016 came for Blair Walsh. While the season was one of mild disappointment for Hauschka, a season of some doubt, for Walsh it was a disaster. This wasn’t a case of shaky rims. Walsh had blowouts in his kicking game.

Through 2015, Walsh had made 89.1 percent of his field goals under 40 yards. Not as good as Hauschka’s amazing 98.3 percent, but still quite good. Walsh was especially noted for his length. He’d made 23 of 32 kicks over 50 yards, while Hauschka had made 14 of 21 though 2015. That’s half again as many kicks at a higher percentage for Walsh.

Walsh was no slouch at extra points, either. Through 2015, he’d made 96.6 percent of those kicks. Like Hauschka, the misses started adding up in 2015, as he missed four extra points, the same number as Hauschka. Of course, 2015 is the year the league moved the extra point attempt back to the 15 yard line from the two. Both men were well under 2015’s league average of 94 percent. Hauschka made 91 percent, Walsh just 89 percent of his extra point attempts.

And as I said, 2016 was the year of the blowout for Walsh. Just a game over halfway though the season, his field goal accuracy had dropped to just 75 percent. Far worse, he missed four extra point attempts in those nine games. The Vikings felt they’d seen enough, and cut Walsh after he missed an extra point for the second week in a row.