PHILADELPHIA – David Akers is generally regarded as the best kicker in Eagles history, but you could make the case that Jake Elliott is the second best and, still just 26 and signed through 2024, could surpass Akers as the very best.
While he still has a ways to go to pass Akers as the best, Elliott did something on Thursday that no other Eagles kicker had done since Akers, and that was earn the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month award for November.
“It’s nice to be recognized for it, but it’s still the same process,” said Elliott. “I go out to practice and have the same approach that I do every Thursday.”
Kickers can be a fickle bunch, so you never know how they will fare from year to year as they continue to chase physical consistency and comfortable mental spaces from game to game.
Take last year, for example. Elliott struggled mightily, and, because he signed a contract extension late in the 2019, GM Howie Roseman was getting raked over again for handing out a bad deal.
The Eagles went through three of kickers after Akers’ 12-year run in Philadelphia and his six Pro Bowls in that time left after the 2010 season – Alex Henery, Cody Parkey, and Caleb Sturgis.
Elliott was poached off the practice squad of the Bengals when Sturgis suffered a hip injury early in 2017.
The front office and then-coach Doug Pederson always supported Elliott and never brought in anybody to push him during his 2020 struggles.
They stayed in his corner and that approach has paid off.
A season after which he missed two PATs and flubbed two of his three kicks from 20 to 29 yards, Elliott has hit on 18-of-20 field goals, including three from 50 or more yards. One of those came from 58, which was the third-longest FG in team history, behind the 61-yarder he made as a rookie in 2017, which is a franchise-best and an NFL rookie record, and a 59-yarder by Tony Franklin in 1979.
Last year, he was 14-for-19 on FGs and just 2-for-5 from 50-plus.
“I think I approach all the offseasons the same,” he said. “I go back and look at film, from the previous year and see what I like and what I don’t like and change technical things based on that.
“I would say I probably spent a little bit more time in the film room in the offseason than I typically do, but just little things here and there that I feel made my kicking technique a little bit more repeatable, so I focused on that and obviously it’s been paying off.”
Elliott highlighted one of those technical things, and that is shortening his steps to the ball.
“It makes it a little easier to repeat time and time again especially when you get into these colder months when it’s tough to kick,” he said. “You can get away with some of that stuff when kicking indoors or kicking in warmer weather, but it just makes it a little more consistent.”
Right now, Elliott is behind Akers in a number of categories, such as total FGs made (Akers 294, Elliott 106), FGs from 50-plus yards (Akers 16, Elliott 15), and the all-time scoring list (Akers 1,323, Bobby Walston 881, Elliott 479).
But this is just Elliott’s fifth season with the Eagles.
Who knows where he could possibly wind up in relation to Akers?
“I’ve gotten to know him a little over the years,” said Elliott about Akers, who he added he met as a rookie. “He’s always been a great mentor. If I ever want to reach out about anything, he’s always been open ears and happy to give his input. It’s been nice to kind of grow a relationship with him and obviously the success he’s had, it’s nothing but beneficial for me.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.