After years of not having to worry about the kicking position, in the last year the Atlanta Falcons have adjusted to life after franchise-leading scorer Matt Bryant. The Falcons moved on from Bryant handing the kicking job to Giorgio Tavecchio, who impressed the team while filling in for Bryant, who had missed three games due to injury in 2018.
Following some preseason struggles and even the added competition of kicker Blair Walsh, the Falcons quickly brought back Bryant to start the 2019 NFL season. The team overall struggled out of the gate starting 1-7, and decided to make a move, releasing Bryant and signing former Georgia Southern and Atlanta Legends kicker Younghoe Koo. Koo finished the season making 88.5% of his kicks and displaying a talent for onside kicks in the process. The only real concern for Koo was he only had one 50+ yard field goal attempt in 8 games, which barely made it in.
In May, according to Will McFadden of atlantafalcons.com, the team planned to bring in kicking competition for Younghoe Koo, hinting that perhaps they learned from the past on just handing the kicking reigns over to a new kicker without competition. It appears that the plan has changed, as the team is pleased with kicker Younghoe Koo and punter Sterling Hofrichter.
“Right now, we’re pleased with where the punter and the kicker are,” Quinn told atlantafalcons.com. “I think in this day and age and certainly in this season at all positions, you better have who’s the backup and [know] who’s available? So, some workouts may take place, but no plans as we’re sitting here today.”
Things can certainly change, but it’s a good sign that Koo will be the Falcons opening day kicker. He did well in the final 8 games last season, making 23-of-26 field goals and was 15-of-16 on extra points. Although if you ask the fans, they remember his impressive onside kicking ability.
Personally, I would’ve liked to see the team bring in some kicking competition, but I understand why they likely won’t. What ultimately caused the team to move on from Tavecchio was his struggles in preseason games. With no preseason games this year, there’s really no opportunity to have a full-blown kicking competition except for on the practice field, where a couple of missed tries don’t seem to be shaking the team’s faith in their new and hopefully long-term kicker.