The Oakland Raiders have had one of the best kicking tandems in all of football for several years and 2012 was no exception. Both kicker Sebastian Janikowski and punter Shane Lechler remain two of the NFL's better special teamers. However, the team's return game took a step back this season.
Janikowski had a terrific 2012 campaign. He connected on 31 of 34 field goals which included six of nine makes from 50 or more yards. His 91.2 percent kick conversion rate was fifth in the league. He converted 25 of 25 kicks inside of 50 yards and made a long of 57. Janikowski led the Raiders in scoring in 2012 and has emerged as a stalwart in the kicking game. He also made all 25 of his extra point attempts.
Despite being a bit long in the tooth, Lechler continues to be a solid punter for Oakland. He averaged 47.2 yards per punt this season, which was 10th best in the NFL. The veteran dropped 21 punts inside the opponent's 20 yard line and had a long of 68 yards. The Raiders and Lechler will have a decision to make next season to see if he continues to be a part of this team. Oakland placed rookie punter Marquette King on injured reserve so they could keep their options open on him for 2013. King displayed his tremendous talent in the preseason and will be the punter of the future for the Raiders.
When Jacoby Ford was lost for the season with a foot injury in the team's third preseason game, it resulted in uncertainty in the return game. Oakland was never able to find a player to fill his production and ended up with a significant drop off. Ford had been one of the most dynamic return men in the league with four kickoff return touchdowns the last two years. The Raiders primarily used Coye Francies and Mike Goodson on kickoff returns this season and neither were able to make a great impact. Francies returned 20 kickoffs averaging 23.8 yards per return and a long of 32. Goodson returned 16 with a 22.4 average and long of 51 yards. Phillip Adams handled the punt return duties to the tune of 25 returns for a 5.6 yard average and a long of 47. Denarius Moore chipped in nine returns for a 3.6 average and long of 19 yards.
Jon Condo might be the best long snapper in all of football. When he left with an injury in week one against the San Diego Chargers, the Raiders had two bad snaps and a punt blocked. Condo came back the next week and played the rest of the season with the consistency and precision that makes him so effective.
Tags: Denarius Moore, Football, Jacoby Ford, Jon Condo, Marquette King, Mike Goodson, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Phillip Adams, Sebastian Janikowski, Shane Lechler