A season that began with a Training Camp kicking battle couldn't have ended any better for Caleb Sturgis, who had a historic showing for the Eagles in his second year with the team.
This 2016 campaign marked the best of Sturgis' NFL career as he successfully made 35 field goals, setting a new Eagles franchise record, and made four 50-plus-yard kicks, tying the team record set by Cody Parkey, whom Sturgis beat for the job. Furthermore, the kicker connected on 18 consecutive attempts, a streak that was only broken when the Giants blocked a 40-yard try in Week 9, and had a career-high 85.4 field goal completion percentage.
The overwhelming success this past year brought has Sturgis feeling confident and excited about his future in Philadelphia.
"I really just kind of struggled through my first few years," he said when reflecting during the team's locker room clean-out day. "I really felt like I got in a good groove and just hitting the ball really well. I would kick against guys on Sundays and felt like, 'You know what? I can be one of the better guys.'"
Sturgis was just that as his 35 field goals tied for second most in the league, trailing only Baltimore's Justin Tucker, who tallied 38 on the year. Additionally, Sturgis' 135 points ranked fourth in the NFL this season.
However, he understands there's always room for improvement and this offseason, there are a few key aspects Sturgis will look to work on.
"The 40-49 (range) I missed more than I would have liked this year. I can deal with a few over 50," Sturgis said. "I should make them all. They're really good, Coach (Dave) Fipp and Coach (Doug) Pederson are good about not putting me out there for kicks I shouldn't make. So when I'm out there, I need to make the kicks."
In total, Sturgis failed to connect on six attempts in 2016, one of which was that block against New York. The other five kicks he missed were from 46, 44, 55, 51, and 49 yards out. In the coming months, he'll look to clean those up.
But at the same time, the Eagles' kicker isn't focused on what's now in the past. His mind is already on what is coming up and the next chance he gets to step on the field.
Being cut by the Dolphins, the team that drafted him, following Training Camp in 2015 helped him with that realization. That experience made him determined to find success, something that certainly showed during his second year in Philadelphia. "It's tough being on the street and I think two different things can happen for guys when it happens. One is you shut it down and you start feeling sorry for yourself, or two is it lights a fire under you," Sturgis explained. "It lit a fire under me and I'm just looking forward because again, I'll feel great about how I did this year, but I think there's a lot of improvement to make. I'm looking forward to making it."