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Packers ‘Fighting Hard’ to Fix Field-Goal Unit

Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby can't shake the worst slump of his 15-year career.

GREEN BAY, Wis. – With Thursday being Thanksgiving, Green Bay Packers special teams coordinator Maurice Drayton on Friday shared his appreciation for the “whole shebang” professionally.

He even thanked reporters.

“Having said all that, ask me about the field-goal operation,” Drayton said to laughs.

Of course, his field-goal unit is no laughing matter. And Drayton knows it. He even quoted Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who said, “Sundays are not fun. You know, they say, Sunday is fun day? It is not. It is not at all.”

And that was after beating the Packers.

“I’m not to that point yet,” Drayton said.

Drayton sounds like a broken record during his weekly conversations with reporters when asked about struggling kicker Mason Crosby and the young snapper-holder duo of Steven Wirtel and Corey Bojorquez.

“I know the guys are working at it. We are working at it,” Drayton said. “No one feels worse than those three individuals who it directly affects, meaning the snapper, holder and kicker. And I can tell you and assure you that we are fighting hard to get on the same page to have that operation down pat like a fine well-oiled machine.”

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A well-oiled machine is what Drayton inherited. With Crosby, long snapper Hunter Bradley and punter/holder JK Scott, the Packers had made 61-of-65 field-goal attempts, starting from midseason 2018 through 2020. Even after the team dumped Scott at the end of training camp, Crosby made his first nine attempts of this season.

Then, the oil hit the fan. Starting with three missed field goals at Cincinnati in Week 5, Crosby is in a 6-for-14 swoon. With the worst slump of his career, he has the lowest field-goal percentage in the NFL. That is quite the unwanted feat considering the hot start to the season.

The change from Bradley to Wirtel has only made matters worse. In their three games together, Crosby has made only 2-of-6 attempts. Crosby missed two field goals in a six-point loss at Kansas City and one field goal in a three-point loss at Minnesota. Who knows how those games would have played out had Crosby connected, but the math is pretty simple.

During Crosby’s slump, there have been bad snaps, bad holds and bad protection. The hope is once those ancillary issues are squared away, Crosby will get back into his usual groove for the stretch run of the season and the playoffs.

Building a successful field-goal operation takes time. Drayton likened it to all those offseason reps between quarterback and receiver. The Packers don’t have time, though.

“That’s definitely not an excuse,” Drayton said. “And I tell my children this all the time: Excuses are the tools of the incompetent, used to build bridges that lead to nowhere. Those who deal in excuses build monuments dedicated to nothing. Therefore, we’re not going to deal in excuses. So, that’s not an excuse. That is the facts, that’s the factual answer to what we’re going through at this time.”

Drayton reiterated what coach Matt LaFleur said earlier this week. Crosby is the team’s kicker. The Packers bet on him after a miserable 2012 season and his infamous day at Detroit in 2018. Both times, Crosby rewarded the team’s patience.

“Mason is a consummate professional,” Drayton said. “He starts everything with himself and then he works outward. I tell you what, I’m thankful for Mason, I’m glad he’s here. There have been no thoughts, if anybody was going to ask a question of a change at that position. Mason understands the winds of Lambeau, he understands the winds when we’re in Chicago. He gets things that it would take a new person time to figure out, so we’re just going to stick by our process and keep rocking and rolling.”

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