With many analysts and journalists beating the Tim Tebow and Ryan Mallet performances to death over the past few days, one story has slipped quietly between the cracks regarding the New England Patriots‘ preseason opener this past Friday. That story was the disappointing game from kicker Stephen Gostkowski.
In his 2013 preseason debut, Gostkowski struggled mightily. He attempted three kicks in the game with only one successful chip shot from 34 yards out. Throughout his career, he has been fairly accurate, making over 80% of his career field-goal attempts. However, he has not been asked to kick that many long, clutch field goals throughout his tenure with the Patriots, having made only seven kicks of 50 yards or more while attempting just 10 in his six-year career. This tells me one thing; the Patriots do not trust him in long-range, clutch situations.
At this point in his career, does anyone trust that Gostkowski can win a playoff game kicking more than a 5o-yard field goal in a clutch situation? If they do, it is truly optimism on their part. After what I saw from him on Friday night, I certainly do not feel any better about his long-range field goal ability. I have never confused Gostkowski with Adam Vinatieri from the early 2000’s as far as clutch kicking is concerned.
Although he is as close to a sure thing as there is in the NFL from short range, those types of kicks do not win you football games, especially in the postseason. For a kicker that is due to make a significant amount of money in the near future, he will have to step his game up. If he continues to have games like he had on Friday night, the Patriots may decide to bring in another kicker to compete with Gostkowski now or in the future.
Do you still have confidence in Gostkowski? Can he be trusted in clutch situations? Will he be fine after this recent poor performance? Feel free to comment on the subject in the “comments” section below.