I’d like to take a moment to reflect on of the most the under-appreciated players in the NFL: Los Angeles Rams P Johnny Hekker.
I know what you’re thinking. “Kristian, what do you mean underappreciated? I appreciate the hell out of him!” And I believe you! You, dear reader, are a Rams fan. You and I have experienced a prolonged period where the best unit the Rams would field on Sundays was the Special Teams unit. A lot of that is thanks to the very capable abilities of Special Teams Coach John Fassel, but Hekker’s contributions are tremendous.
When our offense was terrible, he gave our defense a fighting chance by literally flipping the field, kicking punts as far as 78 yards. I’m going to give you a second to take that in.
And punting isn’t his only skill, he can throw the ball too. He’s got an overall 60% completion rate and a career 112.4 passer rating. To compare, Jared Goff has a 60.2% completion rate and a 90.5 passer rating. I’m not advocating for Hekker to replace Goff here (or am I?), that’d be dumb, but there is a reason why, for a long time, Hekker has been considered the emergency QB with out reservations from anyone.
And this last week, when K Greg Zuerlein had a pre-game injury against the Cardinals, it was Hekker who stepped in to make the kicks. His kick offs were great, and he made a 20 yard field goal and a point after attempt. Those aren’t Zuerlein numbers to be sure, but in a league where people paid to do nothing but kick field goals and PATs are missing left and right, that’s nothing to scoff at. When asked about it after the game Hekker said it was “A little nerve-wracking, but I’ve watched the best kicker in the NFL, week in and week out, watching Greg Zuerlein practice. I just tried to emulate him as best I could.”
What a professional.
I was hoping he’d win Special Teams player of the Week, but that went to Tennessee Titans S Dane Cruikshank for an admittedly impressive 66-yard reception and touchdown from a fake punt situation. I’m ok with that.
All those words to say that in a league where it seems like all the headlines and attention go to the flashiest players and only turns to the special teams when they do badly, I wanted to heap some praise on our own #6 for being awesome.
Stay awesome, J Hekk.