Is it time for the Los Angeles Chargers to part ways with rookie kicker Younghoe Koo?
Poor Younghoe Koo.
Koo went from being an internet sensation, to landing a starting job in the NFL, to being dubbed a choke artist after two career games.
Koo is now 1-for-4 on the season, including having a potential game-tying field goal blocked in the season opener at Denver and missing a 44-yard game-winning field goal in the Chargers’ home opener against the Miami Dolphins. Both attempts came with less than 10 seconds left in each respective game.
That’s rough, especially for a rookie. It’s hard to put blame on Koo in the first game, as he initially made his 44-yard attempt seconds after head coach Vance Joseph called a timeout. His second try was no good, as Shelby Harris easily made his way through the line and got his hand up for the block.
And despite the Chargers, who could have put the game on ice if the offense didn’t stall on its second-to-last drive, putting Koo in another tough situation Sunday, he needed to make that one. He also pushed one wide right before the end of the first half. Koo has one job to do, and he failed to do said job.
Is it too early to give up on the South Korean kicker? Maybe. But his confidence has to be extremely low after these two games, especially the way each one ended. We’ve seen former Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo have his confidence shaken after missing field goals early on in his rookie year, and he never came back from it.
And like Aguayo, Koo had success in college. Koo hit 95 percent of his field goals his senior year at Georgia Southern, only missing one field goal, as well as one extra point. He was the second-most accurate kicker in 2016 and was named third-team All-American, the first Eagle to accomplish that goal since Georgia Southern moved to the FBS in 2014. He was also a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, which is awarded to the best kicker in college football.
If the Chargers were to go in another direction, there are a few options out there, including former Chargers kicker Josh Lambo.
Koo beat out Lambo, who had his fair share of ups and downs a season ago, in training camp. Lambo hit 81.3 percent of his kicks in both the 2015 (rookie year) and 2016 seasons and despite missing only one kick inside the 40 over those seasons, he only made 70.8 percent of kicks between the 40-49 yard-line and missed eight extra points over that time. Not only that, but he doesn’t have the strongest leg, with a 47-yarder being his longest made field goal last season. He did, however, hit a 53-yard field goal in the Bolts’ preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks.
And it’s hard to forget Lambo missing two field goals against the Browns last year, thus giving Cleveland its first and only win of the season. And yes, the infamous image of Lambo laughing alongside Raiders’ Sebastian Janikowski after a game in which the Chargers failed to tie because of a botched field-goal attempt still irks many Chargers fans.
There’s also another former Charger on the market, and that’s Nick Novak. Novak last played for the Texans in 2016, hitting 85.4 percent of his field goals. He was the Bolts’ starting kicker from 2011-14 before signing with Houston in 2015. He may be 36 years old, but he looks to have some juice left after posting a video of him kicking a field goal right after the Chargers lost their home opener (ironic, right?). Check it out below:
— Nick Novak (@8nicknovak) September 17, 2017
Overall, it’s been a heartbreaker for Koo, whose fairytale story has quickly turned into a nightmare.