This might be the worst year for a team to have issues at the kicking position. The NFL announced that this year they would move the point after attempt to the 15-yard line, making extra points about a 33-yard field goal. Should be a piece of cake right?
The Miami Dolphins had much higher hopes for Caleb Sturgis when they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2013 round draft out of Florida. In two years as the Dolphins’ starting kicker, Sturgis has posted a 77.5% field goal percentage, making just 14 out of 20 kicks from 40-49 yards and just 6 out of 13 kicks form 50 yards or more. Those are hardly the numbers the Dolphins were hoping for out of a fifth round pick who received high praise coming out of college. Sturgis’ 78.4% FGP last year ranked him 27th in the league.
So far in his NFL career and this far in his 2015 training camp, Sturgis’ main problem has been his consistency. He and undrafted rookie Andrew Franks both have powerful legs, but neither can seem to string together more than a few days of successful kicking together at once. One minute they make all of their kicks (like at Friday’s scrimmage), and the next they are both missing consecutive 42 yarders.
As the kicker position continues to be a mystery for the Miami Dolphins approaching their preseason opener on the road against the Chicago Bears, I got to thinking about possible solutions for the Dolphins.
Stick with Sturgis or Franks, and hope one of them is consistent enough by the regular season.
This will likely be the approach the Dolphins take to their kicking conundrum. It is the cheapest, and they can keep two kickers up until the required cut to 53 players before the start of the fourth preseason game. This will give both kickers a longer period of time to compete, and surely one of them can put something together and move into the season with consistency and accuracy. However, this is never what you want from your kicker, someone who needs to be dependable and clutch. Compare both of these guys to New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski ad it starts to make you worry a little more.
Find a veteran kicker to bring in.
This would be a great move, if there were much better options in free agency to bring in. There just aren’t. So far, the only two guys that would be worth even looking at are Shayne Graham and Jay Feely. Both are veterans, but both are also very old. Graham is 37 and Feely is 39. That being said, Graham did post an 86.5% FGP with the Saints last year, and could probably put up another year, giving the Dolphins a viable option until they draft a new kicker next year. Feely, who kicked for the Dolphins in 2007, competed in just four games last year for the Bears.
Become a two-point conversion machine.
This is the most out there option of the three, but hear me out. I wonder how many teams are installing new plays on the goal line simply because of the new PAT change. One team that comes to mind is the Philadelphia Eagles, as Chip Kelly often went for two when he coached at Oregon. Bill Lazor is a fantastic schemer and offensive coordinator. If the Miami Dolphins could implement five or so plays that they could cycle through and use from the two yard line, I would not mind seeing them go for two more this season. Mathematically, all they would need is a 50% conversion rate, as that would be the same as kicking (and making) an extra point each time. With their current uncertainty at the kicker position, he may be time to start considering a more aggressive approach to what has been the most predictable and boring play in the league.
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