It has been a pretty dreary season for Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski. The highlight for him was in the preseason when he signed an extension to remain with the Raiders for four more seasons. Since then things have gone downhill quickly.
His bad season actually started before training camp because for the first time in his NFL career he would not have Shane Lechler holding for him. The transition to Marquette King as the holder has not been an easy one for Janikowski.
Then early in the season rumors swirled that Janikowski was hoping the Oakland A's didn't make the playoffs so he wouldn't have to kick off the dirt anymore. It's never good when the kicker makes bad press for any team. Janikowski vehemently denied wanting the A's to lose. The thing is, though, most of his misses have come off the grass. The A's did get knocked out of the playoffs early and yet Janikowski's struggles continued well afterward.
Making matters worse, he came into the season with a nagging calf injury. He lined up for his first field goal attempt of the season at the end of the first half in the opener and missed from 48 yards out. That field goal turned out to be the difference in the game because the Raiders drove into field goal range down four points at the end of the game.
He would miss his first field goal in the second week as well - This time a chip shot attempt from 35 yards out.
All told, Janikowski has missed eight field goal attempts this season. EIGHT. In total he is 18 for 24 on the season for a terrible 75% on the season. Those misses have come from 48, 35, 52, 52, 54, 32, 48, and 52. This is with three games remaining, mind you. That's four misses inside 50 yards. He had just one miss inside 50 the last two seasons combined.
These misses have been crucial to the Raiders success at times as well. His two misses in in Tennessee in week 12 loomed large with the Raiders losing by four points. He was reported as having come off the field after his second miss blaming holder, Marquette King for it. He again denied those reports and in the days afterward said he noticed there was a difference in his footwork and mechanics.
This is quite a fall from grace for the NFL record holder for longest field goal in history... wait, this just in, Broncos kicker Matt Prater has just broken Janikowski's NFL record 63-yard field goal by hitting a 64-yarder. As if Janikowski needed any more bad news this year. This one adds some salt to the Janikowski's wounds this season.
It is arguable at this point if this is the worst season of Janikowski's career. He had five misses inside 50 yards and 8 total misses in 2010, and seven misses inside 50 in 2005. But there is still three more games left in this season for him to eliminate any argument that he is having his least reliable season as a pro.
The thing about this season that makes it so bad is he just can't be counted upon to make the short or the long field goals. The Raiders used to put up with the occasional miss because they knew they had the biggest leg in the NFL and any time they crossed the 45-yard line, they had a legitimate chance to score. Without that, he is average. And average kickers must at least be relatively dependable inside 50 yards.
His nagging injuries are starting to pile up and at 35 years old it's hard to know just how much Janikowski can get back of what he has apparently lost. Add falling from the top of the record books and the end of this nightmare season probably can't get here fast enough for Janikowski.