The Boston Globe
It’s time to cut Adam Vinatieri. This is a business. Despite all of the great kicks he has made for the Colts, I have no doubt in my mind that he is no longer the guy that will give the Colts the best chance to win moving forward. Let’s take a look at his season stats.
On the season, Adam Vinatieri is 12/17 from FG (70.6%) and 14/19 from PAT (73.7%). Compare his FG% this year to his career average of 84.1% and you can see how horribly he has regressed (career PAT% is irrelevant due to the distance they used to be kicked from). His FG% ranks 26th out of 33 kickers who have kicked at least once per game they have played (ESPN’s standard for kicker qualification), and his PAT% ranks 32nd among those 33. But it’s not just the percentages, it’s also the situations that he has put the Colts in.
In Week 1 the Colts lost to the chargers in OT. During regulation, Vinatieri missed two field goals and a PAT resulting in seven points being left out there that would have all but guaranteed a Colts win. In Week 2 the Colts won 19-17, however, Adam’s poor kicking made the win much tougher. He missed two PAT’s, and if he makes both of those it ensures the Titans have to score a touchdown at the end to win instead of a field goal. After that Vinatieri had four good games in a row missing only one kick while making from as far as 49 yards (the 49 yarder went in off the upright). Then things got bad again.
In Week 8, despite making a game winner from 51, Vinatieri had another unstable kicking day. He missed an easy FG early, and missed a game-tying PAT late in the game that forced the defense to make a heroic stop for the Colts to have any chance. Yes, the Colts won, but because of Vinatieri the rest of the team’s job was made a lot tougher. Then comes Week 9. Vinatieri got his PAT blocked in the late 2nd quarter. Because of this blocked PAT, the Colts had to try to go for two in the 4th quarter to extend the lead to three. They did not convert and the lead was only one until the Steelers kicked a late field goal to go up two. Had Vinatieri made the PAT earlier in the game, then the Colts don’t have to go for two and they instead kick a PAT to go up three. This would have meant the game would be tied when the Steelers kick the late FG, and even with no last-second score the Colts still get overtime. And after all that, Vinatieri still got a chance to win the game from 43 and missed WIDE left. Yes, the holder did not have the laces out, but the replay clearly showed Vinatieri duffed it, not even coming close to getting it through the upright.
In addition to making the team’s job a lot harder in Weeks 2 and 8, Vinatieri’s performance directly resulted in losses in Weeks 1 and 9. The Colts should be 7-1, but because of Adam Vinatieri, they are only 5-3 and now tied with the Texans for the division lead. And in addition to all these stats, if you watch Vinatieri’s kicks they are just flat out ugly. The ball often spins horizontally rather than vertical and looks like it really has to work hard to get through the uprights. Sure a make is a make and a miss is a miss, but the fact of the matter is the automatic kicker we once knew is gone. Vinatieri doesn’t have it anymore both physically and mentally, and at the age of 46, that isn’t something to be ashamed of. No, the Colts won’t find an elite kicker off the street, but there are quality guys like Kai Forbath (85.7% for his career and age 32) available that would be superior options to Vinatieri. Adam deserves all the praise for what he has done in his hall of fame career, but it’s time for the Colts to move on. And with the season already halfway over, they had better act soon.