When Jake Elliott arrived in Philadelphia, he almost instantly became a hero, nailing that 61-yarder against the Giants in 2017 and then he finished that season making all three of his field goals in Super Bowl LII.
He doesn’t look like that guy this year.
In 2020, Elliott has really struggled and he’s getting worse. In the last three weeks, he’s missed two PATs and a 22-yard field goal. That 22-yarder would have given the Eagles a 20-0 lead over the Saints at halftime in what ended up being a close game at the end.
“It’s unacceptable for us,” Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said on Tuesday. “He knows that, I know that.”
Earlier this season, Fipp was defensive at times when asked about Elliott. He’s still supporting his kicker, but it’s impossible to say anything other than “he needs to make it” when you’re talking about a 22-yard chip shot.
Fipp on Tuesday declined to get into the technical specifics of the kick, but there’s no excuses for Elliott.
“We had a good snap, a good hold, I think the operation has been really good for him,” Fipp said. “He’s obviously made a bunch of longer kicks so some of it’s hard to fathom.
“But at the end of the day, I’m not going to get into all the techniques and detail. At the end of the day, it comes down to striking the ball more consistently and we gotta get him into a little better rhythm and make sure he’s striking the ball a little more consistently there.”
In his first three years with the Eagles, Elliott made 84.1% of his field goal attempts. That number is down to 72.2% in 2020; he’s 13 of 18.
In his first three years with the Eagles, Elliott made 93.9% of his PAT tries. He’s down to 90% in 2020; he’s 18 of 20.
While Elliott is a perfect 10-for-10 on kicks from 30-49 yards this season, he’s really struggled with the two extremes. He’s 1-for-3 on kicks from 20-29 yards and he’s 2-for-5 on kicks from 50+.
At what point do the Eagles make a change?
“I think with Jake, obviously the guy has a pretty strong track record,” Fipp said. “This is the first blip on the radar, I would say. I would say we’re a ways away from being in that position with him.”
The problem with Elliott is that the Eagles signed him to a five-year extension last year, making him at top-10 highest-paid kicker. Because of that, cutting him doesn’t make financial sense.
But he hasn’t been good.
In overall field goal percentage, Elliott ranks 29th out of 32 NFL kickers in 2020. He’s the only kicker in the league to miss two field goal attempts from the 20-29-yard range this season. Elliott is 1-for-3 on those field goals and the rest of the league has made them at a 96% clip.
Elliott has missed from 29 and 22 this season. That 22-yard miss is super rare and inexcusable.
And it’s not like Elliott is making up for it by nailing everything from long-range either. He’s just 40% from 50+ this season and from the start of the 2019 season, he’s made just 44.4% of his kick from 50+. That would have been OK if this was 1990 but 50+ yards kicks are being made at a 61.6% clip league-wide over the last two years.
As Fipp was talking about Elliott on Tuesday, he began to say his kicker has a lot of confidence but quickly stopped himself halfway through the word. He later said he simply misspoke. But it’s impossible to really know how much confidence Elliott has right now.
After all, it’s not like he gets a ton of opportunities to kick. He made a 44-yarder on Sunday but then he missed that 22-yarder at the end of the half and didn’t get another field goal try. That has to weigh on him right?
“I’m sure he does have a lot of confidence in himself but I’m also not naive to the fact that he’s struggled here a little bit the last three weeks,” Fipp said. “So I’m sure that takes a toll on you. I think you get it back by going out there and practicing and you develop confidence by executing in practice and by getting it done in the games.
“He’s got a lot to draw on. He’s had a lot of success and a lot of big kicks. I think all those things give you confidence. I’m sure at some point in his career, I haven’t seen it or been a part of it, I’m sure at some point in his career he’s struggled a little bit and had to fight through that. So I’m sure you can draw on those experiences as well."
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