Let’s face it, as Patriots fans we are spoiled. We are horribly spoiled. But, that’s a good thing.
Between Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Rob Gronkowski, the Kraft family and the construction of the entire organization, it’s easy to take things for granted. The Patriots are the pinnacle of success and success has blinded us.
This isn’t made to sound like it’s time to say woe is me. After all, the Patriots turned on the afterburners and throttled the Bengals in the second half en-route to a 35-17 victory. But, there’s one negative we have to take away from the season so far.
Unfortunately, Stephen Gostkowski isn’t the same automatic kicker that we have grown accustomed to seeing over the last 10 years.
Sure, Gostkowski did hit both field goals against the Bengals including a 46-yarder, but he also missed a chip-shot extra point with a kick that hooked to the left upright.
I tried to hold back on sounding the panic alarm with the Patriots’ placekicking. I tried to say that maybe the sample size is too small. In the first game of the season, Gostkowski went 3-for-3 and made a 53-yard field goal. He looked like he had shaken off his tragic AFC Championship Game where he missed an extra point that ultimately ruined the 2016 season. But, then the seams came undone and they’ve been unraveling ever since.
Since making his first three field goals, Gostkowski has gone 6-for-9 on field goals and has missed others that were previously automatic. That’s the scariest part. It isn’t that Gostkowski is missing field goals. The reason for panic is because Gostkowski is missing kicks that he used to be so soundproof on. Even the kicks that Gostkowski is making, he is pulling or slicing and making by small margins.
So are the days of Gostkowski’s perfect kicks through the middle of the uprights gone?
Let’s not be so brash. Gostkowski is still one of the best kickers in the game. We have just grown too used to seeing Gostkowski and his predecessor, Adam Vinatieri, bury field goals from all over the field and from every distance in the game.
Looking at history, Gostkowski has missed six field goals in a season twice (his rookie season in 2006 and in 2012). Now, he hasn’t missed more than three field goals in a season since he missed those six field goals in 2012, but maybe this is just one of those years. Or maybe Gostkowski is starting to trend toward what the rest of the league accomplishes in the kicking game.
To be honest, even if Gostkowski misses six or even eight field goals this year, it shouldn’t matter. He’s still one of the best in the game.
But, if Gostkowski starts to miss key field goals that determine the game, then sound every alarm and siren in Foxborough. That’s the cause for concern. The misses right now can lead to game-changing misses and that can lead to losses.
The Patriots aren’t there yet. But, it’s time to be concerned because we might be heading in that direction.
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Tags: Stephen Gostkowski