Aiming Between The Posts

Patriots Kicker Showing Early Season Struggles

Longtime+Patriots+kicker+Stephen+Gostkowski+kicks+off+a+game+at+Gillette+Stadium+on+10%2F27%2F13+against+the+Miami+Dolphins.
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Aiming Between The Posts

Longtime Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicks off a game at Gillette Stadium on 10/27/13 against the Miami Dolphins.

Longtime Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicks off a game at Gillette Stadium on 10/27/13 against the Miami Dolphins.

Jack Newton, fair use via Wikimedia Commons

Longtime Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicks off a game at Gillette Stadium on 10/27/13 against the Miami Dolphins.

Jack Newton, fair use via Wikimedia Commons

Jack Newton, fair use via Wikimedia Commons

Longtime Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski kicks off a game at Gillette Stadium on 10/27/13 against the Miami Dolphins.

Maria Wood, Staff Writer

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The New England Patriots are considered one of the most legendary franchises in sports history. With six Super Bowl titles, eleven AFC Championship titles, and Tom Brady as the QB, they have been considered unstoppable by many. Yes, there have been some controversies such as Deflategate and Spygate that made fans question the dynasty, but nothing seems to have slowed New England down.

Although that may be the case for the team as a whole, every great team has its weak points at one time or another. A particularly noticeable weakness has been Patriots kicker (or more formally known as a placekicker) Stephen Gostkowski.

Should the Patriots re-sign Stephen Gostkowski when his contract is up?

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Before being drafted, he was a walk-on kicker for the University of Memphis. While there from 2002-2005, his extra point attempt percentage was 96.4. That was outstanding compared to his field goal attempt percentage of 76.1.  Stephen Gostkowski joined the Patriots right out of college in 2006. He was drafted in the 4th round, 118th overall pick.

He joined the NFL right after Adam Vinatieri’s trade to the Indianapolis Colts. During Gostkowski’s rookie season, his competition was vet kicker Martin Gramática. The latter had been signed as a free agent, but was cut before the third preseason game. Interestingly enough, Gostkowski has never had his position on the team challenged since then.

 Gostkowski’s career with the Patriots has been a positive one overall, with an average field goal percentage of 87.4 and an extra point percentage of 98.5. The gray area where he hasn’t been hitting his marks recently is the source of doubt for many. A missed opportunity for one or three extra points may not seem like a big deal, but there have been countless games decided by three points, some of which happen to be Super Bowls won by the Patriots. Super Bowls XXXVI (’03-’04 season) and XXXVIII (’04-’05 season) were both won by three point field goals from former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri.

Gostkowski’s performance on extra points was solid last season, making 49 of the 50 attempts. His field goals were more shaky, with 27 out of 32 successful attempts. Gostkowski’s FG percentage ended up being 84.4 for 2018-19. He hadn’t had a percentage that low since the 2016 season.

According to NFL.com, Gostkowski has missed 3 of his last 13 extra point attempts, and 1 of his last 7 field goal attempts so far this season. And when Gostkowski misses, it can be very tense for players and fans alike, whether or not the score is close. It is always reassuring to see the ball fall through the posts. It’s the inconsistency that alarms people.

There are certainly mixed opinions on whether his performance will affect the rest of the team, and more importantly, his own future. In 2018, he signed a two year, $8,500,000 contract with New England. The contract is good until 2021. He becomes an unrestricted free agent after that.

If the Patriots re-sign him, they take that risk on unreliability, not knowing how Gostkowski will play game-to-game. If he is traded, then New England could potentially find a rookie from the NFL draft, or pick up a free agent. It’s a game of chance that some are willing to play, and others aren’t.

But seeing that Gostkowski is still a Patriot, fans can only hope for a steady, strong season from #3. 

 

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