The Rams rookie place kicker Greg Zuerlein is off to a great start. His teammates and peers call him “G-Zee.” The media refers to him as “Greg- the- Leg.” I refer to this rookie kicker that approaches every game with the same mind set, poise and focus as he did at Missouri Western, as “The Ice Man.” This young player is cool, doesn’t get rattled and goes about his business as if he is a seasoned vet. His ability to handle pressure is uncanny; I’m talking about kicking 56 yard field goals with ice in his veins. An All-American in college, he was the MIAA special teams player of the year who is finding his new profession fairly easy thus far.
NFL teams don’t waste draft picks on a kicker or punter unless he is an exceptionally good player. Coach Fisher and Les Snead truly understand that. After special teams coach John Fassell returned after his second workout with “The Ice Man”, the Rams determined that drafting him made more sense than fighting for him during the college free agent period after the draft.
Coach Fisher was asked about his young weapon and his performance to this point and replied, “Well, it just gives you confidence that the odds are that it’s going to go through the uprights. He’s got length. So, especially before a half, you can take some shots and do some things.” When asked if he’s ever had a kicker with Zuerlein’s distance, “No. (Titans K Rob) Bironas has got a very strong leg, but I’ve not seen anybody like Greg.”
This right footed soccer style kicker is not a mental case, his personality is strong and his confidence boils over when you speak with him, and not in a cocky manner. In my 15 years in the league, he has one of the strongest legs I’ve seen on a young kicker. It is fun to watch his explosive follow through, keeping his head down and driving the ball through the uprights on extra points and field goals. The ball is a blur jumping off his foot. His accuracy that is witnessed in practices carries over to prime time Sundays and a soon to be Thursday. The kick-off rule put in effect for the 2011 season, moving the ball to the 35 yard line, allows this kicker to drill the ball deep or out of the endzone.
Let’s take a look at “The Ice Man’s” performance with three games in the books;
Leading Scores – Tied for 6th in NFL, Tied for 3rd in NFC Conference
PATD – 4/4; FG – 8/8; Long of 56 and has scored 28 points
Kick Offs – Ranked 16th (with the help from his coverage team)
16 total (includes fair catches, returned kick offs, touchbacks and balls kicked out of bounds) with a average drive start at the 21.1 yard line. 7 touchbacks for a 46.7% (tied for 17th NFL), 12 kicked into end zone 75%, , 2 inside the 20 yard line.
Once the Rams offense is clicking on all cylinders, this rookie’s attempts will soar and scoring numbers will climb, because he has given Coach Fisher total confidence to unleash him when needed. He is one of the Rams top weapons and could possibly be a member of the All-Rookie Team if he finishes strong. There is no indication he won’t.