The Los Angeles Chargers are 0-2 and can attribute both of their losses, at least in part, to their kicking game.
Prior to the season starting, the Chargers made the decision to move on from Josh Lambo, the kicker the team had trotted out in every game in each of the previous two seasons. Undrafted rookie Younghoe Koo became the kicker of the future after winning the competition in camp.
Koo, who was known only for his trick shots and not his school record for career field goal percentage at Georgia Southern, has struggled. That would be understatement.
Koo has gone 1-for-4 on field goals to start the season. In the opener against the Denver Broncos, he drilled a 44-yard field goal as time expired, but Denver head coach Vance Joseph had called a time out. When Koo attempted that kick again, it was blocked. The Chargers lost.
That could be forgiven, but what happened in Week 2 is much more difficult to forgive.
Koo, who had already missed one attempt on the day, had a shot to win the game on the final play. Philip Rivers had just guided his team down the field to set up the field goal attempt. The kick was ironically from 44 yards out again and Koo blew it. The kick never had a chance.
Immediately after the game, screams from Chargers fans could be heard yelling “get rid of this guy!” But the Chargers are going to keep Koo in the fold, at least for now.
During this week’s edition of the roundtable, the writing staff here at Bolt Beat discussed that decision and whether or not it is the right move for the team.
Kade Dohmen: “I’m not sure what else could be done unless they want to outright cut him and bring in some other unemployed kicker. Give him another game or two to regain his confidence. If he doesn’t show NFL ability in those two games, then he should be gone and the Chargers may have to look at an older kicker that can be relied on for the season instead of the young, inexperienced kickers they’ve been going for of late.”
Anthony Totri: “Sorry but it’s time to cut Koo. This guy has failed at his job multiple times over the course of two weeks. Yes, the offense had opportunity after opportunity to get the ball in the end zone for 60 minutes. However, kickers get paid to kick, and when you can’t do it you need to be cut. Just like if you’re a salesman, if you can’t sell anything then you shouldn’t be a salesman. Telesco would be coo-coo if he kept Koo around any longer.”
Scott Iger: “While Koo definitely has been underwhelming at times, I feel that this says more about Anthony Lynn. It shows that he is willing to stand by his players, regardless of a singular poor performance. While patience is likely the right decision in this scenario, there is no doubt that Koo is on a short leash. If he misses more than a couple kicks over the next couple weeks, he will definitely be cut, but hopefully, the last game will serve as a wake-up call for him and he will be able to turn his career around.”
Tyler Schoon: “Cutting him from the team sounded really good on Sunday. It still sounds good, but it’s not currently the right call. Maybe he hooked it right because Feeney gave up the pressure on the left against Denver. Maybe he’s a good kicker after all, and is a can’t-miss the rest of the season. Either way, it’s too early to cut him. Players need time. We as fans need to let ALL players develop, even if that one player’s only job is to kick a ball.
The only way I could see the team cutting him is if he misses either two field goals or the game-winner against Kansas City. The team would not tolerate Lynn much longer if he let a player who blew that many games (albeit the first not entirely his fault) hang out on the roster.”
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Alexander Insdorf: “I’m really conflicted on this one. It’s painful to lose week after week on field goals that aren’t particularly long when Rivers is driving the team down the field with a minute left. This has become somewhat common for the Chargers over the last few years. I personally right now would not cut Younghoe Koo. He is a rookie that still has some great potential. It’s a little too early to pull the plug entirely. So, what I would recommend is that the Chargers bring in another kicker to compete for the job with him. Nick Novak could be a great candidate for that, considering he no longer plays for Houston. But, I don’t mind Anthony Lynn’s decision-making here. Anytime you have a really young rookie kicker or any young player in any sport, pulling him, benching him, or cutting him can absolutely destroy any confidence he has. And let’s remember the dude wasn’t shanking kicks hundreds of feet from the posts either. Obviously, if we get to week 4 or 5 and he’s still costing us games, we REALLY will have to do something at that point. But right now, I feel like pulling him or cutting him would not only be disastrous for him, but potentially could have bad effects on the team.”
Mike Murray: “Yes. It’s the right decision. He has a strong leg and was very accurate in college. He can’t miss a kick this week though. That would be bad. I say you wipe the slate clean and start fresh this week and see where it goes from there.”
Matt Pagels: “I’m torn on Koo. Part of me wants to give him another chance, but the other part wants to bring in another kicker. It sucks that a rookie kicker had to be put in two tough situations from the get go, and while he doesn’t deserve the blame for the first game, going 1-for-4 (including two misses vs. Miami) to start off his career is rough. If he continues to miss in the next game, the Chargers should have someone ready to take his place.”
Travis Wakeman: “I was big on Koo coming into camp and felt like he could beat out Lambo for the job, which he did. I could really go either way on this. If they were to release him, I feel it would be justified. However, I appreciate the team standing behind him. He has to start making kicks though. Consistently. That said, I’m surprised no one else brought up Lambo’s name. It’s not like he was that bad. If the Chargers were to drop Koo, I feel Lambo’s name should be at the top of their list in terms of a replacement. Perhaps getting cut will have motivated him to be a better kicker, one who won’t lose the job again”.