Year Of The Missed Field Goal: Why NFL Kickers Are Inaccurate At A High Rate In 2019


2019 has been a major struggle for NFL kickers.

Coming into Week 15, there already have been 158 missed kicks — 13 more than last year — and there still is three weeks left in the season.

The league-wide field goal percentage rate has plummeted dramatically this season. In 2013, the league average for made field goals was 86.5 percent. From 2014-18, that number hovered around 84 percent.

This season, the league-wide field goal percentage is 80.5 percent — the lowest mark since 2003.

Kickers are struggling mostly with attempts longer than 40 yards. They’ve completed just 65 percent of such attempts. In nine seasons prior to this one, they had completed 73 percent of kicks longer than 40 yards.

So why the drop? It’s tough to say. It could just be a random blip that eventually will regress to the mean. But a plausible reason is older kickers are falling off a cliff.

In the last three seasons prior to this one, the 10 kickers with the lowest field goal percentage had an average age of 27. This year, the bottom 10 has an average age of 33. Two notable kickers in the bottom of the list are Matt Bryant and Adam Vinatieri, who are 44 and 47, respectively.

Kickers 30 years old and above have accounted for 43 percent of all misses this season, despite attempting just 36 percent of all field goals.

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