Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson -- aka Money Mac -- hasn't been on the money lately. Between the Browns game and this past week against the Panthers, he's gone 0/2 on field goal attempts, both of which were well within his range, and missed an extra point on top of that.
So what's going on with him?
Last year, Money Mac attempted 33 field goals in the regular season and only missed five of them. This year he's attempted 15 and already has whiffed on four of them. To be fair, the one he missed in their first game against their hated divisional rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, can be chalked up to issues at the Long Snapper position after longtime Bengal Clark Harris suffered a biceps injury.
However, the other three are much more head-scratching as they were no issues with the snap and they were from a distance that the former Gator is very capable of knocking down. What gives?
Why is Evan McPherson struggling in 2022?
That's hard to say. He could be going through some type of Sophomore slump, even though that's not usually something Kickers deal with. Or maybe it's the lack of importance in those kicks that he missed. After all, the ones against the Jets and Panthers came at a time in the game when the Bengals were well in the lead and it didn't have an impact on the outcome other than widening the margin of victory.
As for the Browns one, the Bengals were only down eight at the time of the kick, but as we found out that missed kick didn't end up affecting the game, other than making the final score worse than it would've been. Still, little E didn't know that at the time, so that explanation doesn't fit for this one.
It's hard to tell what caused these misses, whether it was a mental thing or he just didn't kick it accurately-- or both. What's an easier question to answer is, if we should be concerned about McPherson's performance and, if so, how badly?
Should we be concerned about McPherson's slump through the first half of the season?
In his rookie season, McPherson knocked down almost 85% of his kicks in the regular season and made all 14 of his attempts en route to the Super Bowl, which included multiple game-winners. This year, that percentage has dropped over 10 down to just 73% through the first half of the season, as well as missing 2 extra points, matching his total for last year.
However, even with this noticeable drop in performance, at least through the first nine games, I don't think we fans should be too concerned. After all, all the misses that were on him haven't affected the outcome of the games they occurred in and that first matchup against the Steelers, again, can be more blamed on injuries than Money Mac himself.
While it is a little worrying to see him miss a few after seeing him be Mr. Automatic in January and February last season, it's important to note that McPherson had three misses come the BYE week last year and still finished with only five. Now, most of those did come in that wild game against Green Bay where no one was making anything, but I'd rather my kicker's misses be spread out among a few games and have no impact on the result than have one really bad game that directly results in a loss.
Also, if you think he's lost it, he did break the franchise record for longest field goal earlier this year, knocking one down from 59-yards out, which broke the 58-yard record that he himself set the season prior against the Broncos.
I don't think it's time to press the panic button on McPherson, no matter how much you want to. I'd really only start to get worried if he starts missing game-winning/game-tying tries. When it's time to be clutch, that's where McPherson truly shines.