Bengals’ Winners and Losers vs. Falcons

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Mike Nugent struggled to convert field goals against the Falcons on Sunday.  Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Loser: Mike Nugent

The obvious pick here, but it doesn’t make it any less true.  Mike Nugent had the type of day which all kickers fear.  After converting 5/6 field goals against the Ravens (the one “miss” being a blocked kick), Nugent converted only 1/4 on Sunday.  He also failed to keep the always dangerous Devin Hester from having opportunities to add to his all-time returning records.

Nugent is now 6/10 on field goals this year while Hester and Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones managed to return eight of a possible 11 kickoffs.  Some of this can be attributed to both players’ aggressive mindsets when returning kicks, but it also is an indictment against Nugent that these players expect to have returns against a kicker who’s struggled to accrue touchbacks.  In fact, last year Nugent ranked 25th in the league for percentage of kickoffs that went for touchbacks (37.2%); the league leader finished with  78.8% while the middle of the league –two players T-15th–finished with 50%.  Nugent also finished T-23rd for field goal accuracy last year by converting only 81.8% while his 2012 wasn’t much better (32.3% and 82.6%, respectively).

Nugent’s career with the Bengals has been largely underwhelming (other than 2011) as he’s struggled with injury, accuracy, and to benefit from the NFL’s kickoff rule changes, which has made it much easier for kickers.  At this point it’s entirely possible that Nugent’s job could be in jeopardy.  I wouldn’t expect a quick change, but the Bengals have trained with former All-American kicker and punter Quinn Sharp the past two years.  He possesses a big leg and, at worst, seems to be as accurate as Nugent; either way he could be an improvement at the position.  Nugent’s three missed field goals could’ve seriously effected the Bengals’ chances of winning the game.  The game could’ve also been well out of reach with those points.  If Nugent doesn’t get his act together soon, the Bengals may just move on from the veteran kicker.