The Atlanta Falcons fell to the New York Jets on Thursday night, extending their 11-game losing streak during the preseason. Meaningless, yes, but the team’s kicker Giorgio Tavecchio failed to connect on two field goals from over 50 yards out.
In the first quarter, Tavecchio attempted a 52-yard field goal which was disrupted by a Jets’ player, and ultimately missed. Sure, it was essentially blocked, but the trajectory was low. In the second quarter, Tavecchio was able to connect on a 24-yard field goal, which is something most kickers should make. In the third quarter, Tavecchio got another attempt at a 52-yard field goal, which went wide left. In fairness, he was 2/2 last week against the Miami Dolphins, with the longest being a 38-yard field goal, but he missed a 54-yard field goal in the Hall of Fame game.
If you want to chalk all that up as, “it’s preseason, relax.” It sounds fair and probably is fair, but the kicker they got rid of, Matt Bryant, was 14/16 in preseason kicks since 2015. The team decided to part ways with Bryant, who also happens to be the 8th most accurate kicker in NFL history and has the most points scored in Atlanta Falcons history, in order to save close to $3 million in 2019, and close to $4 million in 2020. Of course, the popular opinion against having Bryant on the roster (aside from money) is his age and hamstring injury in 2018. Even with all that being considered, he still went 20/21 (four of which over 50 yards) whilst also having the most accurate kicking percentage of his legendary career, 95.2%. Matt Bryant also still happens to be available (for now) if the Falcons decided to wisely give him a call.
If the Falcons do decide to stick it out with Tavecchio, and they probably will, the team and fans will have to lessen their expectations on the 29-year old. As fans, we have been spoiled throughout the last decade of having the confidence in a kicker as automatic as Matt Bryant. Realistically speaking, 50-yard field goals are very difficult for your average kicker, and we’ll probably lose some games due to misses this upcoming season even if the misses we’ve seen to this point prove to be a little fluky.
Again, it’s preseason, but will Tavecchio’s kicks of 50-yards or more magically improve solely because a game all of a sudden counts when the regular season begins? The team’s decision (or non-decision) will show if they view Tavecchio’s misses as a potential sign of things to come for a win-now team, or if they’re ready to ride with him no matter what.