The Falcons have spent well over a decade basking in the glow of strong play from their kickers. After Jason Elam imploded during the 2009 season, the Falcons brought in Matt Bryant and got one of the league’s best options for 10 or so seasons. Minus a messy 2019 where Giorgio Tavecchio wilted and Bryant was brought back before Younghoe Koo joined up, the Falcons have had Koo looking like one of the league’s most consistent kickers.
Those days aren’t over, but inevitably, there is some early season fretting over Koo’s performance. He missed two extra points in preseason, one in the regular season, and a 47 yard field goal against the Lions on Sunday. Last season was the first time he’s hit under 88% of his field goals tries, and while there’s some volatility baked in for kickers from year-to-year, the Falcons aren’t going to love missed kicks from inside 50 yards. Still, Koo did hit a 48 yarder yesterday—and he absolutely drilled it—and his track record remains very good in Atlanta.
Still, the timing on this particular reported workout is interesting, even if I’d caution against reading too much into it. Per his agency Black Label Sports Group, free agent kicker Tristan Vizcaino is in Atlanta to work out today.
Vizcaino, 27, has mostly been a fill-in kicker since arriving in the league back in 2018, and he didn’t appear in an NFL game until 2020. He has kicked 12 field goals and 20 extra points in the NFL, missing just one field goal and missing five extra points, all in the same disastrous 2021 season with the Chargers. He’s appeared in games for the 49ers, Chargers, Cardinals, and Patriots, and last got into a regular season game last year. Vizcaino was competing with Brandon Aubrey for the job in Dallas, but a shaky summer cost him that job.
It’s possible that the Falcons might bring Vizcaino on to the practice squad to see what he can offer them, but more than likely this is just the team getting a look at someone and updating their list if something happens to Koo or he really struggles going forward. The team just sunk a big contract into Koo recently and he’s just 29 years old; there’s no particular reason to believe their faith in him has been significantly shaken or that Koo himself is in danger of regressing hard. Vizcaino’s own track record suggests that while he’s a capable enough player—and solid on kickoffs—he wouldn’t be an upgrade over even a struggling Koo.
File this one away as an interesting workout at the moment and we’ll see if it becomes relevant later. My expectation is that Koo will bounce back from his couple of early season misses to enjoy another strong season, though.