To say the Los Angeles Chargers have had issues with the kicker position this season would be a mild understatement.
However, the team is still very much in the playoff race, as we detailed here. Yet if the Chargers are to qualify for the playoffs, it will be in spite of their kicker or kickers, plural. It can easily be argued that the team would have another two or three wins this season if the kickers hadn’t been so bad.
I used to think the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had the worst kicking situation in recent memory. The team used a second-round pick to choose Roberto Aguayo out of Florida State. He struggled….mightily. During the offseason, the team brought in Nick Folk who then beat out Aguayo before his second year in the NFL could even start.
But Folk was just as bad, if not worse. He wen 6-for-11 on field goals and missed two extra points in four games before the Bucs decided to waive him as well.
The Chargers have had a similar situation.
The team chose to cut Josh Lambo before the season started in favor of undrafted rookie Younghoe Koo. That had to just be a gut feeling in the front office, as Koo didn’t look any better during the preseason.
The move backfired and Koo missed half of his first six professional kicks, costing the Chargers a game against the Miami Dolphins in the process. The Bolts had the right idea after cutting Koo, bringing in veteran kicker and former Charger, Nick Novak.
But an injury ended Novak’s season, so the Chargers went to the scrap bin again, this time pulling out former Cleveland Browns kicker Travis Coons. Coons actually put forth a respectable performance, making going 7-for-8 on his field goals. But a missed extra point in a crucial loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15 was apparently too much and Coons was shown the door.
Enter Nick Rose, the fourth and current kicker for the Chargers this season. Rose made 10 of his 11 field-goal attempts with the Washington Redskins this season, but he missed his only attempt in his first game with the Chargers last week. And if you want to see a bad miss, this miss by Rose was laughably bad.
— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) December 24, 2017
In the playoffs, kicks like that will cost the Chargers against good competition. In fact, kicks like that will end the season.
So why would the team want to go into the playoffs with a guy like Rose? It’s not like the team owes him anything. It’s not like he’s playing under a huge contract where it’s going to hurt the team to let him go.
So, it’s time to bring in a fifth kicker if the team qualifies for the playoffs. There aren’t many veterans sitting on the street ready to come in and kick, but here’s a couple options.
Connor Barth is a veteran who has spent time with six NFL teams, most recently with the Chicago Bears. Barth made 18 of 23 field goals for the Bears this year but after a costly miss against the Detroit Lions, the Bears chose to bring in Cairo Santos.
Barth has attempted 203 field goals in his playing career, making 82.8 percent of them. He doesn’t have the strongest leg and most of his kickoffs won’t reach the end zone, so the Chargers would have to weigh that into any decision.
Still, he’s been there before and he’s found success.
Unless he’s got absolutely no leg left, the Chargers should sign Dan Carpenter as soon as possible. He had a big leg during his playing days, which only came to an end this past spring.
He made 83.9 percent of the 281 field goals he attempted during his career, which according to Pro Football Reference, is good for No. 17 on the NFL’s all-time list.
He was also part of the wave of kickers the Los Angeles Rams recently tried out after an injury ended Greg Zuerlein’s season. That shows that he’s still interested and in shape to come in and perform on short notice.
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Carpenter has sat out this entire season so he may be a bit rusty, but there’s no way he’s a worse option than Rose, who was cut by three different teams in a 16-month time frame before joining the Chargers.
And it’s not like Chargers fans have never had their Super Bowl hopes dashed by a kicker. Remember those costly playoff misses when Nate Kaeding was around?
The Chargers are absolutely crazy to consider going into the playoffs with Rose as the kicker. Should they defeat the Oakland Raiders on Sunday and get the help they need to qualify for the postseason, the kicker position needs to be evaluated immediately.
Unless of course, Rose goes out and belts four field goals including the game winner against the Raiders.