The Carolina Panthers Could Be Very Good... But Here's the Kicker

I literally had four choices of photos of Mare shanking FGs.... FOUR! (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

One of the chief justifications for the Carolina Panthers parting ways with head coach John Fox was that while Fox had success, he lacked consistency. Under his reign the team was up one year, down the next-- swinging from a dominant, playoff team to a lackluster one barely able to cling to .500.

This was the catalyst for the Panthers to restructure their organization, make the team more youthful, and as a by-product no move was harder to swallow than parting ways with veteran kicker John Kasay, the last original Panther. The justification for this move was pragmatism. For three years Carolina tried to get along using a kickoff specialist and Kasay for field goals. It was an attempt to patch up a leaking ship where the Panthers invested two roster spots just to keep their kicking team afloat.

With the arrival of Ron Rivera it was too hard a sell to use two spots on kickers, and as such the organization went in a different direction signing Olindo Mare, but the problem was they found inconsistency when they were striving to stamp it out... more after the jump.

Mare's inconsistency was surprising and unexpected. Looking at his career you see a player with a solid career 81.2%, and with a big enough leg to handle kickoffs, which he did very well in 2011. However, looking a little deeper into his career you see a player whose career mirrors those inconsistent Carolina Panthers years under John Fox, and reason we should be a little concerned moving forward.

Olindo Mare, by the percentages

- FG% of <80%: 1997, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2011

- FG% of 80-85%: 1998, 1999, 2005, 2010

- FG% of 85-90%: 2008

- FG% of >90%: 2000, 2001, 2009

That's, well... not great. For almost half of Mare's career he's been a less than 80% kicker, which is very poor. It's here where the devil is in the details, because if you look solely at career kicking percentage then Mare's 81.2% is almost on parity with John Kasay's 81.9%, but let's look at Kasay's breakdown.

John Kasay, by the percentages

- FG% of <80%: 1992, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2005,

- FG% of 80-85%: 1991, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2011

- FG% of 85-90%: 1999, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010

- FG% of >90%: 2008

Yes, Kasay has just one season where he hit an elite 90% plus, but his career has been a far more reliable bell curve to Mare's erratic up-and-down nature.

This isn't intented to be a soliloquy to the original Panther, but rather a simple was of showing that Mare must get better, but historcially he's had a penchant for rebounding. He's had seasons where he made the jump from being a sub-80% kicker to a 90% one, but that doesn't mean he's reliable.

Justin Medlock was brought into camp to push the veteran, and time will tell whether Mare can get himself back together and return to form. If the Panthers are yet again a team to play it close then he'll need to.

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