Patriots have no choice but to stick with Stephen Gostkowski

Ryan Hannable
October 01, 2019 - 7:30 am
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Even though the Patriots are 4-0, there certainly are a few concerns with the team, including kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

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The veteran missed yet another kick Sunday against the Bills, but fortunately the botched extra-point did not come back to hurt the team, as the Patriots snuck away with a 16-10 win on the road.

Gostkowski has now missed five kicks overall in his last three games, including three in Miami during Week 2. For the season, he is 18-for-23 overall on his kicks, but just 11-for-15 on extra points. The only player in the league to miss more kicks than him this year is Adam Vinatieri, who has missed six total.

Some have brought up that he is working with a new holder in rookie punter Jake Bailey and that could be part of the reason for the struggles, but Gostkowski himself dismissed that after the game.

“It’s me,” he told Nick Underhill of The Athletic.

Gostkowski added: “I’m just not very consistent right now.”

So, where do the Patriots go from here?

One might say they should bring in a bunch of kickers for workouts and maybe even sign the best one to the practice squad to give Gostkowski some competition. 

But, not so fast.

While this might be the thing to do at any other position if a player is struggling, Gostkowski is different. This also factors into why he’s the only player that hasn’t been pushed by another player during his tenure with the team. Heck, even Tom Brady has.

Gostkowski is a unique case, as although he’s one of the best kickers in the NFL and has been for a long time, he also is easily susceptible to letting pressure get to him. Also, it seems like when he misses a kick or two, it has the ability to turn into four or five because he has trouble with putting missed kicks behind him and falls into slumps.

This is part of the big picture when it comes to why Belichick hasn’t brought in a kicker to challenge Gostkowski. It may work the opposite as it has for Brady and others. Adding another kicker to the mix could negatively impact Gostkowski and affect his confidence, which seems likely why it hasn’t ever been done.

Furthermore, what kickers are the Patriots bringing in?

Any kicker that is currently available obviously isn’t all that good, as if he was he would currently be on a team. Missed kicks are part of the NFL these days; it’s just the Patriots have been lucky enough to have Gostkowski over the years that they don’t really know what that is like.

Fortunately, Gostkowski’s misses haven’t cost the Patriots any games yet and based on their upcoming schedule, it shouldn’t be an issue over the next several weeks. This could be a good opportunity for the kicker to gain some confidence going into the meat of the schedule.

We’ve seen over the years one big kick can change everything for Gostkowski and the team hopes it is the case again this year. Don’t rule out Bill Belichick setting things up for him to make a long kick at the end of the half or something like that to try to get him jump-started.

On paper, bringing in a bunch of kickers seems to be the best course of action, but the reality is it's not.

The Patriots really don’t have any other choice but to ride things out and hope it turns a corner sooner rather than later.

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