New England Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski has missed four kicks in 2016, equal or more than the number of misses in each of the past three seasons. I’ve hypothesized that Gostkowski’s kicking technique has changed due to new kick off rules, but ESPN’s Mike Reiss has a different idea in his Sunday Notes.
“But quietly behind the scenes, some within the Patriots' organization are hoping changes made to the Gillette Stadium playing field in recent days could help the 11-year veteran find his groove more consistently,” Reiss reports. “Several players have commented in recent weeks that the field has been particularly soft, and thus it was notable to them that work was done to harden it. This isn’t quite like 2006 when the Patriots lost to Eric Mangini’s Jets in a rain-soaked game as players had trouble with footing, which was followed by the club ripping up the natural-grass field and having a synthetic field installed in the middle of the season. But it also seemed to be more than routine maintenance.”
Three of Gostkowski’s four misses have come at home, including a potential game-winning 39-yard field goal against the Dolphins and a missed extra point against the Bengals. His only miss on the road was a reasonable 50-yarder against the Browns.
If the Patriots are really changing their field for Gostkowski, then that’s a pretty serious update. Hopefully the updates will help the Patriots kicking game.
Check out Reiss’ other notes here, where he includes a weight update on OG Tre Jackson and a dig from Patriots president Jonathan Kraft directed at the Colts.