The Atlanta Falcons were defeated by Washington on Thursday night, which delivered the team its 12th consecutive preseason loss. As the team got into field goal range following a fake punt and Matt Ryan scramble, all eyes were on starting kicker Giorgio Tavecchio.
Earlier in the week, Dan Quinn shared his support for the 29-year-old kicker.
“You don’t like to miss them whether they are 30 yards or 50 yarders,” Quinn said. “He’s a competitor and has the leg strength to take the long shots. That’s the nice part about having a guy like him. I have been pleased on the kickoff side, and hopefully we will get some [opportunities] for him that are under 50 yards.”
Well, the team got their wish. Tavecchio lined up for a makeable 39-yard kick and hit it wide left.
The 29-year old kicker was handed the starting job with absolutely no competition. Heading into the Washington game, he was 4/7 on field goals this preseason, with the longest being a 38-yard field goal against the Miami Dolphins.
Kicking is a head game; it’s the reason coaches ice the kicker leading up to important kicks. Should the Falcons, in what is presumed to be a win now season, risk having a kicker who can’t make anything over 40 yards? No, and following the Week 3 loss, Dan Quinn said he would evaluate the kicking position.
But who do they turn to, you may be asking…
The obvious answer is Steven Matt Bryant – yes, his real first name isn’t Matt! Let me get the typical opposition comments out of the way.
“Why isn’t he signed yet if he’s so good?”
I’m not an NFL GM, but I imagine it’s because none of these games count. The team moved on from Bryant mainly due to financial reasons. Bryant was due $3 million in 2019 and $4 million in 2020. Makes sense, and why not bring out some cheap 22-year-old kicker who can save you a ton of cap space for kicks that don’t matter?
“He’s injury prone!”
Maybe my definition of “injury prone” is different, but to me, that’s someone who has a lingering injury which disrupts their career. Money Matt has missed a total of three games in three seasons. All three came last season, and he injured his hamstring on a 57-yard field goal, which he made. Then he returned and finished off the season with a game-winning field goal against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The only other time he missed games was in 2015 where he missed five. Even if Bryant came out and missed five games this year, I will take Bryant and some no-name fill in kicker over what Tavecchio has shown so far.
I have seen people making the comments that he’s old and that they’re younger than him and get sore just from rolling out of bed in the morning. The difference is, Matt Bryant is an NFL kicker who constantly works out to stay in kicking shape.
Also, nobody seemed to care that we had Morten Andersen kicking for us from 2006 through 2007 at age 47.
Honestly though, I doubt that management will want to swallow their pride and pick up the phone to call Matt Bryant. The departure was messy, and it would show error on their part. There are some other currently available kickers the team may call instead.
In 2018, Cody Parkey went 26/34 and famously hit four uprights in a single game. I almost see that as impressive, but that’s neither here nor there. Most of you will remember Parkey as the guy who missed the 43-yard kick for the Chicago Bears in the Wild Card round against the Philadelphia Eagles. He’s currently a free agent, and I’d like him to stay that way, in regards to Atlanta of course.
After losing the starting job in Minnesota to Daniel Carlson prior to the 2018 season, Kai Forbath landed in Jacksonville. He only kicked five times, but he made four with the longest being a 41-yarder. I don’t think he’s necessarily what the team needs, but he has starting experience and his last three seasons he’s kicked 80% or better.
There are some other guys, such as Mike Nugent and Phil Dawson. They’re definitely veterans, but at that point, go back to Matt Bryant. Even if he’s a fraction of what he once was, he’s still better than what’s available and what we currently have.
If Bryant isn’t called, the Falcons still need to do something about the position, because Tavecchio isn’t cutting it. We could see the Falcons calling Bryant or adding a free agent kicker this week leading up to the preseason finale against the Jacksonville Jaguars.