Through the past two games, New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has played at a level that can only be categorized as mediocre at best. In New England’s Week 2 matchup against the wretched Miami Dolphins, Gostkowski missed a field goal as well as two extra points. The following week against the New York Jets, Gostkowski missed yet another extra point causing many to question the 14-year veteran’s reliability.
Injury Issues Could Be Affecting New England Patriots Kicker Stephen Gostkowski
While many media members have speculated on if Gostkowski’s recent struggles are due to mental instability, Big Jim Murray of 98.5 The Sports Hub suggested another possibility. The radio personality recently speculated on-air that, according to a source, Gostkowski’s struggles are due to a nagging hip injury. He further went on to say Gostkowski elected not to have surgery on the injury this past off-season, but is now regretting that choice and may choose to have the surgery this coming off-season. Despite these speculations having not been nationally confirmed, they are still very interesting. Since the time Gostkowski established himself as one of the league’s best kickers, we have never seen him struggle this much to start a season. In addition, at age 35 the kicker is no spring chicken anymore and one would not be surprised if Gostkowski was, in fact, dealing with some level of injury.
Handling the Potential Injury
In the NFL, having a reliable kicker on the roster is often the most overlooked aspect of a winning team. A kicker who is able to be consistent is a necessity for successful teams and more often than not, those kickers are the difference between winning or losing a close game. The Patriots franchise is no stranger to putting the game in the hands of their kickers and if injury speculations are true, this team could be seriously hamstrung moving forward.
The main question for this situation should be how long will Bill Belichick and the team be willing to ride out the Gostkowski struggles. At the moment, the speculated injury clearly is not serious enough to warrant shutting Gostkowski down for the season, but with 13 games left and the playoffs afterward, the rumored injury could easily worsen. Belichick and the Patriots may be forced to decide to either roll with Gostkowski and simply accept his inconsistencies or sign a kicker off the free-agent market. However, turning to the market would be a tough decision for the team as it offers no kicker with talent even remotely close to Gostkowski. The best available kickers consist of Kai Forbath, Blair Walsh, Cody Parkey, and Mike Nugent. All of whom have a combined career extra point and field goal average of under 90 percent. This is a significantly lower number than Gostkowski’s near 93 percent and if the kicker can avoid injured reserve, New England will roll with the inconsistency of Gostkowski rather than gamble on a free agent.