Jake Elliott’s Struggles Continue
As an NFL Kicker, it is rare to be covered by the media often. It typically means one of two things, either you’re struggling or you just gifted your team a win by hitting a game winner. Unfortunately this will be highlighting the first option, as Jake Elliott has been awful in 2020.
Elliott’s 2020 cap hit is $2.63 million which makes him the 12th highest paid Eagle on the active roster and makes up 1.18% of the salary cap. Some players that Elliott is being paid more than this season: Rodney McLeod, Jalen Reagor, Isaac Seumalo, Dallas Goedert, Miles Sanders, and Nickell Robey-Coleman. To make matters worse, Elliott’s 2021 dead cap hit if he were to be released post-June 1st would be $5.35 million. This is yet another example of Howie Roseman’s inability to evaluate and monetize a player’s value to the Eagles franchise.
Elliott is 18 for 20 (90.0%) on PATs this season which ranks 24th in the NFL in PAT percentage for placekickers with a minimum of 10 PAT attempts.
He has gone 13 for 18 (72.2%) on FGs in 2020; this places him at 28th in the NFL in FG percentage for place-kickers with a minimum of 10 FG attempts.
From this sample size of kickers, Elliott ranks 31st in points scored with 57 points. This is partially due to Doug Pederson‘s reluctance to trot Elliott out for certain PATs and longer distanced FGs. Jake’s most recent blunder was missing a 22-yard FG as time expired in the first half against New Orleans. The Eagles took over with under a minute remaining, and Jalen Hurts lead a beautiful drive to get the Offense to the five yard line. Pederson had no choice but to elect to kick the FG to give his team a 20-0 lead and receive the second half kickoff, then this happened:
Effect on the Gameplan
There have been 31 instances in which the Eagles could have elected to kick a FG inside the opponent’s 40-yard line on 4th down. Pederson and the analytics department chose to kick 16 times (51.6%) while going for it 15 times (48.4%). The Eagles rank 28th in the NFL in fourth down conversion percentage with a 37.04% rate, and they have attempted a fourth down conversion 27 times, which is the 2nd most in the NFL. In 2019 the Eagles attempted 24 fourth down conversions in 16 games, they have already surpassed this total in just 13 games.
As far as PATs go, the Eagles lead the NFL in Two Point Conversion Attempts averaging 1.1 per game. The next closest team is the Vikings, who also have a struggling Kicker in Dan Bailey. The Eagles are converting on just 42.86% of the 2pt Attempts which ranks 18th in the NFL.
This comes as a result of Elliott’s woes, and his inability to kick accurately has affected the gameplan to the point that Pederson is more willing to go for more points.
Kicking is both a physical and mental game that requires the utmost focus coupled with perfected muscle memory. Once one of these facets starts to give, the other one closely follows. As a kicker begins to struggle, over-thinking and over-complicating their kicking motion begins.
Elliott is obviously frustrated with his struggles, and it shows in his newly adopted kicking motion, whether it be conscious or not.
Fellow 4th and Jawn writer, AJ Torres, has noticed something within Elliott’s motion that seems quite new. AJ said, “Recently, Elliott tends to open his hips instead of driving and finishing through the football. He has the tendency to lean overtop of the ball during his motion rather than remaining square to the ball and ultimately the uprights.”
Below are some of Elliott’s most impressive kicks over the years. Notice how he maintains a “lean” backwards while approaching the kicking point, and drives through the ball rather than opening his hips and swinging at the ball right to left.
Now watch as he misses a 29-yard FG against the Giants earlier in the 2020 season. Elliott overcompensates on his plant foot, drops his left shoulder, and “swings” his kicking leg right to left rather the driving it through the ball.
Half of Jake Elliott’s battle is mental and the other half is physical. However, I think it may be too late to fix for the 2020 season. Hopefully Elliott can get out of his own head and improve over the off-season, or he may join Carson Wentz in the “get fixed, or get lost” category as both would be massive dead cap hits at their positions.
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