The two most difficult positions to find greatness in the NFL are quarterback and kicker.
For the past 23 years or so, the Patriots have been all set at both – with Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady holding down the fort at QB and Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski establishing themselves as two of the most reliable legs in the league.
But it’s become clear by now that Gostkowski is no longer reliable. In fact, he’s currently shaky at best.
Gostkowski could very well cost the Pats a game or two this season (or … gulp … in the playoffs) if he doesn’t find some semblance of consistency again. He missed two extra points and a field goal against the Dolphins in Week 2, missed one extra point in Week 3 against the Jets, and another XP on Sunday against the Bills.
Bill Belichick seemingly doesn’t trust him anymore as the Patriots went for it on 4th and 8 from the Buffalo 35-yard line on Sunday (they were bailed out by a pass interference penalty).
Gostkowski hasn’t even attempted a field goal from 50-plus yards out so far this season and has tried from the 40-49 yard range just two times total (going 1 for 2). That may be entirely due to game circumstance, but it’s hard to believe Belichick has any faith with Gostkowski from long-range at the moment.
“It’s me,” Gostkowski said after the narrow 16-10 win over the Bills Sunday. “I’m just not very consistent right now.”
Truth be told, Gostkowski hasn’t been the stone cold kicker he was earlier in his career for a while now. The first significant miss he had was in the AFC title game in Denver in 2015 when he missed an extra point. The Pats lost by two points in that one, having to go for a two-point conversation to try and tie it at the end because Gostkowski had shanked one earlier. He also missed the only extra point he attempted in the Super Bowl three years ago against Atlanta, and he missed an extra point attempt in the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles.
Metro spoke one-on-one with Gostkowski last year, and the four-time Pro Bowler talked about how his focus has always been the same. Once the game is over, he doesn’t bring any of the mental anguish home.
“As a kicker you can’t dwell on a missed kick,” Gostkowski said. “It’s always on to the next one … I don’t have time to look back on the kicks. Every kick is a new kick. Plus, with kids at home – Blues Clues is the only thing on TV. I’m not watching my kicks over and over again.”
Bringing in another kicker to challenge or replace Gostkowski likely isn’t happening either. You can count on your hand the amount of kickers already in the league that are thought of as “nails,” nevermind finding one on the free agent scrapheap.