More On Icing The Kicker

Photo by Darren Hester via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Darren Hester via Wikimedia Commons

During his press conference yesterday, Coach Zorn made a reference to looking at the statistics on icing the kicker. I linked to an Esquire article that seemed to indicate that, essentially, icing the kicker was bad.

I realize that Esquire isn’t exactly JAMA, but I figured that it was sufficient to shore up Zorn’s point and provide a readable link on the subject. I knew it probably wasn’t the kind of statistical analysis Zorn would use to research, but — all “math is hard!” jokes aside — it seemed good enough for people, like me, who don’t have advanced research degrees.

Fortunately, at least one of my readers does have that sort of degree, and E. David Klonsky, PhD, emailed me with the following.

I spend much of my time nowadays thinking about statistics and research methods, so a quick comment on the utility of icing-the-kicker. The data you cited on yesterdays’ blog in support of icing-the-kicker were based on pressure kicks from 2002 and 2003. Consequently, the conclusion was based on a relatively small sample of pressure kicks. In contrast, if one examines all pressure kicks since 1991 (848 pressure kicks in all), it’s clear that icing-the-kicker has no effect: 71.7% of non-iced kicks are successful, compared to 72.0%of iced kicks.

These data are cited by Dr. Z/Paul Zimmerman in a column from 2005:

Here’s an excerpt:
“I was thinking about this whole icing matter, so I sent my query along to the good Doctor Stamms of Stats, Inc. He came up with the following: Pressure kicks (using the same guidelines as described above, except that they’re in the last two minutes, not three) since 1991, regular season — 457 of 637 (71.7 percent) made, without icing on them. After icing, the number is 152 of 211 (72 percent). So it’s a push. Next week we’ll discuss kicks with frosting instead of icing.”

Between Drs Klonsky, Z, and Stamms, that’s a whole lot of doctorates all agreeing that icing the kicker is fundamentally pointless. Of course, if Coach Zorn were really into following research and thinking outside the box, he would’ve solved the Durant Brooks issue by doing away with the punter altogether, so there are probably other things factoring into his thinking here.


3 Responses

  1. I can’t wait until some coach calls his last timeout to ice a kicker outside of the last two minutes and, as a result, can’t challenge a controversial ruling on whether the kick is good or not.

    This sounds like that it would such an extremely rare occurrence that it seems pre-destined to occur, causing everyone who had never thought about this situation prior, to immediately call the coach an imbecile for not recognizing it as it came up.

    I love the NFL.

  2. I hate icing the kicker. So many times it seems like it backfires because we see the kick actually go up and miss but the coach calls a timeout… then the next kick is good. it’s crap strategy and this is proof there isn’t even a such thing as icing a kicker.

  3. Colt’s teammate Dan Kelly earned the name “Iceman” after last year’s game with Nevada. He got iced before kicking a perfect game-winning field goal.

    This year, as the Warriors marched into FG range with a few seconds left, Alexander threw a TD pass into the endzone.
    I caught the NV coach on video punting several objects around his sideline and onto the field.
    So much for icing the kicker ;-)

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