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Spadaro: Jake Elliott weathers the storm at volatile position

Jake Elliott
Jake Elliott

This is normal stuff for Jake Elliott, and yet it's always special when he has the kind of day he had on Sunday to open the 2023 regular season. In a driving rain and with just enough wind to consider, Elliott drilled field goals of 32 yards, 56 yards, 51 yards, and 48 yards in the 25-20 win over New England.

Normal stuff.

"I just felt great out there and the operation was right on point with Rick (Lovato, long snapper) and Arryn (Siposs, holder) and I had a good tempo," Elliott said. "I think I figured out a lot in the pre-game with my swing, trying to eliminate the elements as much as possible. It was definitely tough in the first half, I'm not gonna lie. But once the rain lightened up, I started feeling more comfortable.

"I tried to stay downfield and made sure I didn't swing across the ball. Drive it down the field. That was my thought process. When you swing across and there's a lot of rain, things can do awry pretty quick."

The Eagles anticipated a rainy day at Gillette Stadium and Elliott practiced during the week with a wet ball and that preparation paid off with a great, and clutch, start to the season. But is that in any way a surprise? In his six previous seasons, Elliott has made more than 83 percent of his field goals five times and in 2021 he ripped through 30 of 33 attempts and was named a Pro Bowl placekicker.

One of the all-time Eagles greats, Elliott is very much in his prime and his start to the '23 campaign is right on the mark.

"Consistency is the big thing with placekickers so it's nice to start that way, but I also know I have to continue to work on everything I do, every part of my game," he said. "I try to be as solid as possible every time I kick. That's what we work on. The swing plane is important and the contact point and everything is so important, and then having Rick and Arryn deliver like they do helps everything."

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His career numbers are pretty staggering, especially at a position that has such a high burn rate in the NFL: Elliott has made 142 of 167 field goal attempts, a success percentage of 86.3. He has a long leg as well, making 21 of 31 attempts from 50-plus yards and we all, of course, remember the 61-yarder Elliott put through early in the 2017 season to ignite a nine-game winning streak in the Super Bowl Championship season.

Elliott has also made all 15 of his postseason field goal attempts and is 13 for 15 in PATs in the playoffs, so he's just been great in every phase of his Eagles career.

"They gave me a chance and it's worked out great," said Elliott, originally a fifth-round draft pick by the Bengals whom the Eagles claimed off Cincinnati's practice squad when then-Eagles placekicker Caleb Sturgis was injured early in the 2017 campaign. "Sometimes it just takes the right situation. There are a lot of talented guys out there waiting for the right situation and fortunately for me, it's been here. I feel great about everything here."

There are going to be plenty of games this season when Elliott will be called upon to make the difference. The schedule is all over the place – night games, tough weather conditions – and Elliott is just going to do his study, refine his approach, narrow down his focus, and make the next kick his best kick.

"This profession is all about correcting mistakes and moving on to the next kick," he said. "I'm a guy who stays even-keeled and I don't let the past get to me, either way. The next chance is going to come pretty fast, so you have to be ready to make the most of it then."

The next chance? Only a few dozen hours away. Minnesota is in for a Thursday night game and it's Lincoln Financial Field and it's at night and … you just know Elliott will be ready to kick the ball through the uprights. That's what he does, as well as anyone in the NFL and in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Relive the best moments from fierce meetings with the Minnesota Vikings with the Week 2 Best Moments photo gallery.

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