At this point, the story of Chandler Catanzaro is pretty well known. The undrafted rookie kicker out of Clemson — who got all of a $1,500 signing bonus — is 15-for-15 on field goals, tying the NFL record for most makes to start a rookie season. He’s already got 56 points on the season, and he’s a nice blend of humility with an layer beneath of confidence. He’s not going to brag about himself, but there is no question he thinks he can be a great kicker. He’s off to a great start.
But the field goals are only part of the equation. His kickoffs — a part of the game that more than anything moved the Cardinals toward looking for a Jay Feely replacement — have been as impressive as expected.
Of Catanzaro’s 34 kickoffs so far, 30 have not made it past the 20-yard line and more importantly, Catanzaro already has 22 touchbacks. In this day and age of kickoffs being up five yards further and rules changing the way the kickoff return can be blocked, that’s not overwhelmingly surprising. Last year, the Cards had 33 touchbacks on 86 total kickoffs. Catanzaro should reach that total by mid-November.
So far, the average starting position of Cardinals’ opponents after a kickoff is the 19. That ranks second in the NFL, behind only Cleveland (at 18.1). A touchback actually helps an opponent these days.
“They are going well,” Catanzaro said. “I didn’t hit them as well (in Oakland) and I need to get better this week. But they are going well. I didn’t do them in college and I am happy with where I am. I’m confident. I did some work ever since the Orange Bowl was over last year with Clemson, working my tail off where my kickoffs are. I have to keep that up because I think that’s helping us win games. Honestly, it’s a huge testament to the kickoff team as well. They are doing an awesome job.”
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