For the third week in a row, Dave Fipp spent the better part of his Tuesday news conference making sense of Jake Elliott’s struggles with short kicks this season.
The Eagles kicker missed a 22-yard field goal in the Eagles’ 24-21 win against the Saints on Sunday. The 25-year-old missed extra points against the Packers and Seahawks in the two previous games, continuing a concerning trend of inconsistency this season.
Fipp, the team’s special teams coordinator, said the coaching staff and Elliott agree the miscues can’t continue.
“It’s unacceptable for us,” Fipp said. “He knows that, I know that. ... I have to do a better job with him, just working our fundamentals, our techniques, our drills.”
After going three seasons without missing a kick inside of 30 yards and making at least 83.9% of his field goals each year, Elliott is having his worst season. He’s 1-for-3 on kicks inside 30 and is making 72.2% of his kicks, which is ranked 29th in the league. His 90% success rate on extra points is ranked 22nd and is also on pace to be the worst of his career. If he misses another PAT, it will tie his career high.
“I don’t know if he has a lot of confidence — I’m sure he does have a lot of confidence in himself, but I’m also not naive to the fact that he’s struggled a little bit here in the last few weeks,” Fipp said. “I’m sure that takes a toll on you. I think you get it back by going out there and practicing. You develop the confidence by executing in practice and getting it done in games.”
Regarding the most recent miss, Fipp said Elliott had a good snap and hold, and conceded it’s hard to truly understand what’s caused Elliott’s regression.
“He’s obviously made a bunch of longer kicks so some of it’s hard to fathom,” Fipp said. “... At the end of the day it comes down to striking the ball more consistently. We’ve got to get him into a little bit of a better rhythm and make sure he’s striking the ball a little bit more consistently there.”
The Eagles don’t have much choice but to ride out this slump with Elliott, who signed a five-year contract extension worth about $20 million in 2019 that lasts through the 2024 season. Among kickers, Elliott has the third-highest total contract value.
If the Eagles released Elliott this offseason, it would cost them about $5.5 million in dead money against the salary cap, which would make little sense considering they’re projected to be about $70 million over next year’s cap as it is.
So how does Elliott turn things around?
“I think just like any player, when there’s times like this, you go back to fundamentals and your routine and your process and you stay the course,” Fipp said. “He’s a talented player, he’s got a lot of tools, he’s a really talented player. He works really hard at it, it’s really important to him.”