The Los Angeles Chargers still need to address their kicking situation.
Is Caleb Sturgis the answer at kicker? That’s the question we’ve been asking ourselves since the start of the season.
Sturgis, who signed a two-year, $4.45 million deal in the offseason, won the starting job over Roberto Aguayo. Both performed well in the preseason and it seemed as if the Chargers’ kicking woes from last season were finally behind them.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. The 29-year-old Sturgis has connected on just 75 percent of his field goals (9 of 12), including a long of 49. His three misses came from 40-plus yards out. He’s currently tied for 27th among kickers with at least two attempts.
What’s more worrisome is that Sturgis has the second-worst conversion rate when it comes to point after attempts (PATs). He’s only hit 67 percent (8 of 12) of his PATs.
But it isn’t just Sturgis who has been struggling. A ton of kickers are pulling a Ray Finkle this season.
In the NFL, 37 kickers have attempted at least one field goal this season (excludes Rams punter Johnny Hekker). Of the 37, only nine have been perfect all year. However, 16 other kickers have hit at least 80 percent of their field goals, leaving Sturgis as one of the 12 kickers that have hit less than 80 percent of kicks.
Many thought Sturgis would be gone after missing a field goal and two extra points in Week 4’s 29-27 win against the San Francisco 49ers. Instead, someone else got the boot.
In a surprising move, the Chargers released punter Drew Kaser prior to Week 5’s game against the Oakland Raiders and replaced him with veteran Donnie Jones, who served as Sturgis’ holder when both were members of the Philadelphia Eagles. Sturgis made above 80 percent of his field goals in both 2015 and 2016 (he missed all but one game in 2017 due to injury), so perhaps Jones’ presence could be beneficial.
But with Jones and Sturgis reunited, Sturgis still managed to miss a 48-yard field goal as time expired before halftime and one extra point near the end of the game. Luckily, the Chargers had a good lead on the Oakland Raiders at both times and ultimately blew them out.
But that’s not going to be the case every time. A team this talented can’t let kicking destroy what looks like a very promising season.
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So where do they go from here? Do they stick with Sturgis and hope he turns things around? Or do they go after another kicker?
Aguayo, who already made a solid case to be the team’s starting kicker, remains unsigned. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to give the former second-rounder a shot. Another option? Rams starting kicker Greg Zuerlein, who has been out since Week 1 with a groin injury, is expected to come back in a week or two, which will likely lead to Cairo Santos’ release. Santos, who replaced the struggling Sam Ficken, has made an outstanding 92 of 109 career field-goal attempts (84.4 conversion rate), including hitting his latest game-winning 39-yard field goal Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks.
If released, Santos’ name should be thrown into the hat.
Head coach Anthony Lynn said he’s not concerned about Sturgis, but one more missed attempt could lead to a change.