Kicking crisis strikes the NFL

As the second year of 33-yard extra point attempts continue I take a look and try to find out what it is that is making these kickers miss.

Photoshopped by myself

Photoshopped by myself

Two years ago the NFL decided to move PATs to the 15- yard line instead of the usual distance where the ball was spotted at the 2-yard line. In the 2015-16 regular season a record of 71 PATs were missed. This year there have been 36 extra point misses and the Bengals own Mike Nugent has missed a few himself.

As a result Bengals fans took to Twitter trolling Mike Nugent saying things like he should get cut and the Bengals need a new kicker. The missed kicks have resulted in more interesting games and have made making an extra point a big part in who will win the game. I asked a few kickers some questions wanting to get the reasoning behind why these kickers keep missing PATs.

“I think that kickers have been struggling recently because they are scared. Once they heard of one person missing that’s all they can think about. That’s the worst thing you can be as a kicker: scared. Look at Mike Nugent for example he was pretty solid last year and the beginning of the year till he blew the game in London. That miss in overtime made him scared to miss and now look at him, he’s missing extra points like it’s his job,” said Elder junior kicker, Vince Sabato.

Vince thinks the change in distance is effecting kickers.

“Well obviously it’s a little bit harder because it’s further but, for an NFL kicker a 33-yard kick is a chip shot, even I can do that pretty consistently and that’s saying something,” said Sabato.

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Vince Sabato kicks a field goal

“What you should do before kicks and what most kickers do is say something to calm themselves down. A common one is saying a line to your favorite song to relax your mind and bring it to a simpler state,” said Sabato. “The problem with kickers is that when they go up to kick they are all tensed up and nervous, this often makes them mess up.”

Sabato commented on the mental aspect about missing kicks.

“Well I’ve pretty much said it but yeah it’s a mental thing. In practices NFL kickers can kick 50-60-yard field goals with ease, it’s just their own mind that psyches then out during the game,” sadi Sabato. “It’s hard to think positive when you’re a kicker because if you mess up everyone hates you but if you make all your kicks people love you, there’s no in between. Today’s kickers read books and stuff which sounds dumb, but they do on how to relax and think positive, it’s pretty stressful being a kicker.”

Taken from
Cincinnati Bearcats’ Andrew Gantz Kicks a field goal

Andrew Gantz is Cincinnati Bearcats kicker and 2015 second team All-American Athletic Conference Selection.

“I don’t think that it was necessary to move back the distance for extra points back to 15-yard line, its a slap in the face to kicking. However, it definitely makes the game more interesting and it brings more pressure on kickers,” said Gantz.

“I haven’t seen a drop off in NFL kicking, I think one of the reasons because there are a lot of older kickers in the NFL right now and being older it makes kicking harder. Some kickers are doing just fine with the adjustment like Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens,  I don’t think he has missed all year,but other kickers like the Bengals own Mike Nugent has struggled,” said Gantz.

He went on to say that it could be partially due to the fact that some of the stadiums are harder to kick in compared to others. Paul Brown Stadium is one of the toughest to kick in because it is so windy.

He said the pressure that kickers get from the fans is overblown.

“I just honestly don’t really pay attention to it, I made a couple of game winners at UC and the kicker before me struggled so the fan-base really backed me,” said Gantz. “As for the criticism, if you are playing at the big stage and highest level it’s just the nature of the beast you have to be able to handle the criticism and focus on what you need to get done.”

As for the NFL missing kicks left and right it has definitely added a lot of intensity and it has amplified the role that kickers play in each and every NFL game.