One of the great strengths in the NFL career of Eagles placekicker Jake Elliott has been his ability to adhere to the 1-minute rule: Whatever the outcome of his kick, he lives it for one minute, and then it's over. In the midst of his current up-and-down season, Elliott is relying on that discipline to get his kicking stroke, one that was remarkably consistent through three seasons, back on track. Three misses on short kicks in recent weeks has him, well, upset with his game.
"First and foremost, I want to say that it's frustrating. I would say that from the other day (when he missed a 22-yard field goal against New Orleans), it's embarrassing, for lack of a better term," Elliott said on Wednesday during a virtual press conference with reporters. "I'd say it's frustrating because I feel like especially that day I was hitting the ball really well … in my profession, if you're not perfect, it's a bad day and so it was a bad day. Unfortunately, I missed that one and I've had a couple now. Right now, I've just got to go back to work. I'm excited to go back out there and kick today and just kind of work through this thing. It's a tough position as far as that goes because you only get so many opportunities.
"When I get them, I have to capitalize."
From 2017-19, Elliott had the following success rates on his field goal opportunities – 83.9 percent in 2017, 83.9 percent in 2018, and 84.6 percent in 2019, with a total of 14 misses among his 88 field goal attempts. He was a perfect 19-for-19 on kicks from 20 to 29 yards. This season, Elliott has missed two field goals from that chip-shot range – a 29-yarder in the Thursday night victory over the Giants and a 22-yarder in Sunday's win over New Orleans.
Otherwise, Elliott's performance has largely mirrored his career numbers – he has been perfect on field goals from 30 to 49 yards, and he is 2-of-5 on kicks in the 50-yard-plus range. On his PAT kicks, Elliott has made 18 of 20 attempts, a 90-percent success rate that is a slight dip from his previous three seasons.
So, when you extrapolate the data, it's not wildly different from the numbers Elliott compiled in his first three seasons, which, by the way, were some of the best in the history of the Eagles' franchise. But it just feels different because Elliott has had misses on easy kicks – the 22-yarder and PAT kicks in each of the previous two weeks – in the most recent three games of a 4-8-1 season.
"I go back and I look at that (missed) kick very specifically," Elliott said. "I take a lot of time to go through the film and really slow it down and see what went wrong. Going out there (against New Orleans), I went out there with a lot of confidence, thinking 'I'm going to make this kick,' and obviously, it didn't happen. For me, it's going back, looking at the film, finding little errors in there, and going out and correcting it today."
Special Teams Coordinator Dave Fipp and Head Coach Doug Pederson have repeated their confidence in Elliott when asked by reporters in the last couple of weeks, and that's not going to change. These are easy, chip-shot kicks Elliott is missing. They are happening because Elliott, on those particular kicks, had mechanical flaws, not because he's "in his own head," as sometimes happens with placekickers.
Elliott's remarkable ability to stay even-keeled has served him well in his four NFL seasons, and that mental acuity will allow him to work through these strange hiccups.
"I've done this long enough to where I know what goes wrong when things go wrong," he said. "There are a couple of things that I've seen that are easy corrections in my mind, so I'm going to go back out there and fix that stuff today. … It's just me coming out of my follow-through too soon and that's tended to happen to me a couple of times on some of the shorter ones, it being where it is, looking up too early, whatever it may be. I just really gotta hone in, make good contact, and finish my swing."
A former outstanding tennis player who also happens to be an accomplished golfer, Elliott relies on those solo sports to understand the mentality he has as a placekicker. He's out there, essentially, alone with his kicking mechanics. Rick Lovato is the Pro Bowl long snapper and Cameron Johnston is the holder and they are part of an efficient and excellent operation, but it's up to Elliott to put a good swing on the ball and make consistent, great contact.
At the risk of paralysis by over-analysis, Elliott just wants to correct his swing flaws. Right now. Today. And move on.
"It's really, really important to me," Elliott said. "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, so I'm going to go out there and work my tail off like I do every day."