The NFL Has A Major Kicker Problem

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This season has been one of the weirdest NFL seasons in recent memory, but especially for kickers. Before we get to the most recent, let’s think back to Week 2 when the NFL’s kicker problem really came to surface.

In that week, there were 12 missed field goals and seven missed PATs. It wasn’t just the fact that there were 19 total kicks missed that was strange, but the timeliness of those misses. Cleveland’s Zane Gonzalez and Minnesota’s Daniel Carlson both literally lost their jobs because of a bad day at the office.

Gonzalez missed two of his four field goal attempts and both PATs he attempted. Gonzalez missed a PAT with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter that would’ve given the Browns the lead. Gonzalez also missed a potential game-tying field goal from 52 yards by pushing it wide right. It was later revealed that he had been trying to kick through a groin injury, but still it wasn’t a good day for Gonzalez and it ultimately cost him his job.

Now for Daniel Carlson, oh boy, do you want to talk about a bad day? Unlike Gonzalez, who had kicked the previous season, Carlson is just a rookie. Carlson missed all three of his field goal attempts in a game that resulted in a tie with the Green Bay Packers. Not only did he need to hit just one of those three to help deliver the win, he really just needed to hit one of his two attempts in overtime and he missed both. The first one in overtime was from 49 yards and would’ve just given them the lead, however, after a missed field goal in overtime from Mason Crosby as well, Carlson had another shot at redemption, this time from 35 yards, and it was a straight on kick.

Well…

So, Carlson was released pretty quickly on the following day. After releasing Carlson, the Vikings signed former Pro-Bowl Kicker Dan Bailey! We’ll get to that shortly.

Week 2 had a number of additional misses and a couple blocked kicks, but one of the stranger issues for a team was how the Los Angeles Rams, due to injury to Greg Zuerlein, had to have their punter Johnny Hekker kick one PAT and one short field goal. On the other three touchdowns the Rams scored, they went for two points and successfully converted all of them. The Rams are now on their third kicker of the season.

Let’s get back to the present day. Week 5 was also a terrible week for kickers. In Week 5, kickers were a combined 48 of 63 which is a success rate of 76%. Now that still isn’t terrible if you just look at the overall number and, of course, it’s a bit skewed by Mason Crosby missing four field goals in one game, and then add on a missed PAT for Crosby for good measure. Week 5 wasn’t all bad. There were five game winning kicks, including four as time expired, but these misses are still getting out of hand.

Crosby’s five missed kicks were the most by a kicker since Cole Ford missed four field goals and a PAT for the Oakland Raiders in 1997. Oh, and the score of the Packers game at Detroit this past week? It was an 11-point difference before Crosby got to kick a chip shot to make it an eight-point game when the final time ticked off the clock. Had Crosby made all of his kicks, Green Bay probably wins the game against a division foe. One of the kicks was a 56-yard attempt, so I’ll give Crosby a bit of a pass on that kick. However, the other three missed field goals were from 38, 41, and 42 yards.

Some of the kickers in Week 5 that failed also redeemed themselves later on. The aforementioned Dan Bailey missed two of his three field goal attempts in the first half, including a 28-yard field goal. Bailey redeemed himself in the second half hitting two more field goals to give the Vikings a 23-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

The NFL calendar just turned to Week 6 so there’s still plenty of season left for them to get it right, but if it doesn’t improve here soon, this could end up being the worst season in NFL history for kickers.


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