New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski is somebody whom I’ve been a backer of for quite some time, and it seems like he’s been catching some more criticism again. Gostkowski had an awful first game of the preseason after missing two kicks, and he received some more negative reviews from fans after going one for two yesterday. Although Gostkowski hit a short field goal yesterday, he hit the uprights on a 50-yarder.
New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski (3) on the sideline during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 25-21. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
I would definitely put a damper on taking shots at Gostkowski, because the kicks he’s missed in the preseason are from 44, 50, and 53 yards out. That’s not to excuse Gostkowski for going just 3-6, but the length of the field goals does show that Gostkowski isn’t exactly missing “gimme” shots either. I mean, hitting the crossbar on a 50-yard field goal isn’t as bad as some are making it out to be. People point to his 82.9% field goal percentage last season as a cause for concern (2oth in the league), but you have to notice that he was taking some tough field goals last season. He missed four FGs from 40-49 yards (that killed his percentage), and he had a positive grade for field goals from PFF. Some fans and writers were upset with Gostkowski’s play at the beginning of the season, but he was rightfully not concerned. The holds he received were bad, and he was simply barely missing some tough kicks. Kicking is not an easy job, especially when some people are simply too quick to criticize.
Bill Belichick is not one of those people, and the New England Patriots head coach has total confidence in Stephen Gostkowski. He said this, via ESPN Boston, “I think he’s had a good camp, he’s worked really hard, he’s in good condition, he’s kicked the ball well – he’s been hitting the ball very solidly consistently. I know that he’ll continue to work hard to do everything he can, and so will the other people involved in the operation, snapping and holding, however that turns out.
“I have confidence that he’s one of the best kickers in the league.”
Another thing about Gostkowski that is important to remember is the fact that he is one of the best kickers in the league at kick-offs, as his strong leg is conducive to touchbacks. He was arguably the best in the league in that facet of the game last year, and that has certainly carried over in the preseason. Despite what he is owed, Gostkowski’s job is safe, and I am also confident that Gostkowski is an All-Pro level kicker. My opinion could change if he struggles for a lengthy period of time in the regular season, but Gostkowski is fine for now and should get the benefit of the doubt.