Margin of victory for 2016 NFL season
high five, NFL

Kicker missed a field goal? No problem, give everyone on the special teams a high five

Rules for kickers who miss

I have a lot of flaming hot takes like the one above! I don’t know why more people don’t follow me? But let’s take this inquiry serious that no one else seemed to take. And here is my thesis: a kicker handing out a high five after a missed field goal is not ok. I will explain why in a moment, but I first want to lay down some rules.

  1. A kicker cannot and should not delve out a high five if he misses a kick.
  2. He should not accept a high five. He must stand there like a stone statue and take whatever happens to him.
  3. He must be down right pissed off with himself, but show it in the appropriate moment and in the appropriate place. They cannot be rattled.
  4. Maintain the shooters mentality… but realize there are only a few shots.

Get ’em next time, kicker

There is a physiological aspect to the game. The kicker misses the field goal and a teammate gives him a tap to the helmet, as if to say, “Shake it off. Get ’em next time.” It’s a good pick me up. It shows unity and that the team is one. Everyone wins together and loses together (btw it is loses, not looses… you don’t loose games.). It may be out of habit that this happens after a miss. Just muscle memory… I am sure in practice after each kick is made the kicker and the holder give each other a dap. Fine. The fact of the matter is that they have to have the presence of mind of where they are at and how important making a field goal is to their job.

Tight and few games

The competition in the NFL is very close. Around 70% of the 2016 season’s games were two score games, over half were one score games, while almost a quarter of the games were determined by three points or less. That is close. With just 16 games to qualify for the playoffs there is little room for error. Most of the time, either team has a real chance at winning the ball game. The parity you find in the NFL is what makes it great.

It is not uncommon for a game come down to a kick, but think of the many possessions before the “game winning kick”. Think of the missed field goals previously and how that changes the strategy of the game. It changes the arch of the game. Let’s switch to the college game real quick for some examples I saw first hand.


The miracle Hail Mary play at the end of the  Florida vs Tennessee game is a prime example. Their kickers missed three field goals in the game! That amazing 60 yard bomb doesn’t really happen if Tennessee makes their field goals. The game is over. Another example is the the closer than needed be game of Utah v BYU. Late in the 4th quarter, Utah was in the red zone elected to go for it on fourth down, rather than taking the three points. If Utah takes the points the game essentially is over. While Utah won, BYU had a chance at winning in the final minutes.

Stepping back to the pros. Consider the 2016, 6-10 Carolina Panthers. Of their 10 losses, six were within three points. If they were (big IF) to win those games they are suddenly at 12-4 and make the playoffs. On the flip side consider the playoff teams like the Lions, Texans, or Raiders  who won 56%, 44% and 42% of their games by three points or less respectively.

A team ain’t got time to be losing by small counts.

Kickers are called specialist for a reason

A kicker has literally one job to do and all he must practice is kicking a football. That is it. They have become so good at it that the NFL modified the PAT in 2015. People even think that instituting a four point field goal is a good idea. I am not saying it is easy, but what I am saying is that if a player dedicated himself to a singular physical action, they would get really good at it.

The 2016 average field goal percentage for kickers with at least 15 attempts was 83% (table below). From 39 yards and in kickers made about 94% of their kicks. Back the ball up to 40-49 yards and they still will make it almost 80% of the time. Justin Tucker for the Ravens was 97% last year on his 39 attempted field goals. He made all 10 from 50+. So, yeah, a kicker can get really freaking good.

Yards FGA FGM Percentage
< 39 543 510 93.92%
40-49 285 225 78.95%
50 > 148 85 57.43%
Total 976 820 84.02%

Extra points? Made 94% of the time.

Different Pants for Kickers

Finally, kickers should wear pockets so they can put their hands in their pants and walk off the field if they miss.


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