PHILADELPHIA - Life moves fast in the NFL.
To prove that thesis all you have to do is look at the quarterback position in Philadelphia where Carson Wentz went from the face of the franchise to a baseball cap and a clipboard over the span of 13 weeks.
For Eagles kicker Jake Elliott, it's been the steep drop from one of the league's best kickers to one of the worst from a statistical standpoint and the fourth-year former Super Bowl hero is feeling the effects.
"It kills me inside," Elliott said via Zoom on Wednesday, days after his latest high-profile miss, a gimmee 22-yarder that banged of the left upright on the Pattison Avenue side of Lincoln Financial Field during the Eagles' 24-21 upset win over New Orleans.
Overall, Elliott's field-goal percentage has stayed remarkedly consistent - 83.9 percent as a rookie and sophomore spiking to a career-high 84.6 last season. In 2020, however, Elliott is just 13-for-18 on FGs, good for 72.0 percent, a mark dramatically below the league average of 84.3 percent.
Of the kickers who've attempted at least 10 FGs on the season, Elliott is just No. 29 of 33.
Perhaps most troubling is the fact that Elliott's short game has been the issue. He also missed a 27-yard FG against the New York Giants and has had two hiccups on 33-yard extra points.
"It's just me coming out of my follow-through too soon," said Elliott, who is also a top-tier golfer and softball/baseball hitter. "I think that's tended to happen to me a couple times on some of the shorter ones, I'm looking up too early or whatever it may be. I've just really got to hone in on making good contact and finishing my swing."
Had Elliott not signed a significant (for kickers at least) five-year, $19.3 million contract extension just over a year ago, and COVID-19 protocols didn't limit the availability to bring in outside players in an expedient manner, it's fair to wonder if Elliott would still have a job in Philadelphia.
Since signing that deal Elliott is only 21-for-30 on FGs, an unacceptable 70.0 percent. Prior to it, he was 74-of-84, a brilliant 88.1 percent success rate.
Elliott doesn't believe the big money has affected him.
"I don't think that's changed me as a person," he said. "I don't think that's changed me as a player at all. I still show up to work and do the same thing every day. I work my tail off. (Playing in this league is) really, really important to me.
"I'm going to go out there and work and get this thing right. I know it's urgent and I know that it needs to be fixed."
The good news is Elliott is holding himself accountable. In a virtual world, it's very easy for struggling players to avoid media questions but Elliott made himself available and answered every question lobbed at him in a calm, measured way.
"It's frustrating," he admitted of his struggles. "I would say from the other day, (the 22-yard miss is) embarrassing, for the lack of a better term. In my profession, if you're not perfect it's a bad day, so it was a bad day."
Everyone has bad days in the NFL from Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Donald on down. The secret is to stack the good days and halt those bad ones as quickly as possible.
"I'm always going to be confident in myself, and I understand that the way a lot of people see it is kickers can kind of get in a funk and get in their own head, and that's easy to do," said Elliott. "But for me, it's all about just getting back out there and having a good day today, that's of the utmost importance. That's the best way to get your confidence back. Going back out there and making kicks."
If the Eagles want to move on from Elliott after the 2020 season, the dead money would equate to $5.5M vs. a $3.3M cap hit if he is the kicker. The financial translation there is Elliott will get every opportunity to right the ship.
"He’s got a lot of tools, he’s a really talented player, he works really hard at it," special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said when discussing Elliott earlier this week. "It’s really important to him, it’s not a lack of effort, or of a want to, so we’ll just stay the course.
"I think any player in that position in this league or most players in that position in this league have had to fight through something. This will be a good opportunity for him to fight thought a little adversity here. He’s been a really consistent player for us the last handful of years, so I look forward to the opportunity to get him back on track.”
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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