After attaining perfection, there's usually only one way to go and it's certainly not up. In any sport, regression can quickly wash over any past successes and abruptly end careers in the "what have you done for me lately" environment of the NFL.
No position is more subjected to this than kickers, players who typically fall under the spotlight only when they've committed a horrible mistake. A select few are celebrated for key kicks in championship games and so on, but they're rarely applauded for successfully doing their job on a regular basis.
And it's easy to understand, to a certain degree. Considering they share the same field with some of the greatest athletes to ever walk the face of the Earth, it becomes convenient to overlook the complexities of kicking and take it for granted or oversimplify it. But there's more to it than "guy hits ball, ball goes through uprights."
It's not as simple as, "this guy's a professional, therefore he has to make every kick." Sure, that's the goal, but it's an unrealistic—and unfair—one, even for some of the elite legs that have graced the game over the years. It takes more than just the leg of one man; the successes of kicking equally rely on the ability of the snap holder and even more so on the long snapper.
Fortunately for the Seahawks, they arguably boasted the best trio of specialists in the NFL last year. Punter Michael Dickson, per usual, was stellar with his holds and long snapper Tyler Ott earned Pro Bowl honors for his deliveries. Both played key roles in helping kicker Jason Myers achieve a perfect 24-for-24 mark in field goal attempts.
In all, Myers was credited with 121 points scored, the 13th highest mark in the NFL of any one player last year. He became the ninth kicker in league history to register a perfect field goal percentage, but was just the third to do so on 20 or more kicks, joining Mike Vanderjagt (37-for-37 in 2003) and Gary Anderson (35-for-35 in 1998).
And Myers didn't get there on mere chip shots, either. Over half of his field goal attempts came on distances of 40-49 yards, with two eclipsing the 50-yard mark, including a 61-yarder against the Rams in Week 10.
Though he wasn't perfect on extra point attempts, it's hard to be mad at a 92.5 percent success rate on that front. Going 49-of-53, Myers left just four points on the field for all of 2020, tied for first with Mason Crosby (Myers, however, outscored Crosby 121-107).
Following such a brilliant season, it's only natural Myers takes a step back this fall, right? After all, the only place he can truly improve upon numbers-wise is on extra points; the rest, such as more attempts, is out of his hands. Anything short of what he did last year, even if it's as minuscule as one isolated missed kick, could statistically classify his 2021 season as a regressive campaign.
But there's reason to believe Myers and the Seahawks' kicking unit as a whole can keep regression down to a minimum. With Ott and Dickson still in tow and Larry Izzo in the midst of his first full offseason as Seattle's special teams coach, the continuity the Seahawks have puts them in prime position to stay on course. And that's a rarity for a lot of teams who sift through countless kickers and other specialists just hoping for the chance to discover what Seattle has.
Basically, the Seahawks are incredibly fortunate, and their four-year, $15.5 million investment in Myers is looking pretty dang smart at the moment. But again: kickers are like relievers in baseball in that things can fall apart at any given moment, so the optics of the contract could quickly change if Myers puts forth another painfully average season like he did in year one, and it may not even entirely be his fault. Kickers, by nature, are scapegoats.
That being said, the people and process the Seahawks have in place should keep things relatively steady. With all this time together, their group of specialists should be a well-oiled machine by now—one that unfortunately won't earn many headlines for its successes, but neither for its mistakes as well.