The Bengals are letting it be known that their patience for kicking struggles is wearing and the leash for Randy Bullock won’t be quite as long as it was for long-time kicker Mike Nugent.
Katherine Terrell of ESPN reported this on Wednesday from Marvin Lewis’ press conference:
Marvin Lewis said that after they went through Mike Nugent's struggles last year, it definitely affects their patience with Randy Bullock. When asked if they're committed to him for this season, he said they're committed to Bullock for this week.
All Bengals fans remember Nugent’s struggles from last season. He had key misses that really effected the outcome of several games, but the team remained committed to the kicker for far too long, hoping he would right the ship. He didn’t and by the time the team cut him before Week 15 he had missed six of 29 extra points and six field goals. He also didn’t hit any of his kicks from over 50 yards.
The Bengals brought in Randy Bullock following the release of Nugent, and he filled in very well. He hit five of his six field goals and all six of his extra points. The Bengals decided to bring him into training camp this season, but they also drafted Jake Elliott in the fifth round. Despite the fact the team had invested a draft pick in Elliott, the team cut him after Bullock won the kicking battle during the summer. The Bengals ultimately decided to keep Bullock on the active roster. Elliott made his way to the practice squad where he was snatched up early in the season when the Eagles lost their kicker due to injury.
Recently, Bullock has shown some struggles. Over the past two weeks the kicker has missed two extra points that have really changed the feel of their respective games. Bullock also missed two weeks due to injury, so whether he is fully healthy is also a question. The injury could be impacting his accuracy. Still Bullock won’t be afforded the same patience Nugent was during his time in Cincinnati, which is a good thing. Field goals and extra points are so important in a league where there is such a small margin of victory. If you can’t confidently send your kicker out there for a field goal or even just an extra point there is a problem.
The Bengals have played six games that were decided by four point or fewer and have won three of those six games. With that said, you can see how big of a deal field goals and extra points can become.
This seems to be a clear message to Bullock from Lewis. Lewis has been calling out players left and right for the past few weeks, so this isn’t surprising. In fact, this one is more deserved than calling out Jeremy Hill for opting to go the surgery route for his injured ankle or John Ross for a miscommunication on one route.
It may also be weird timing as Elliott got injured during the Eagles’ last game while making a tackle. There is some doubt whether he will be able to play due to his concussion this week. The Eagles’ original kicker Caleb Sturgis will soon be eligible to return from Injured Reserve. Maybe that’s just a pipe dream to get Elliott back in Cincinnati. Odds are far more likely the team will hold tryouts like they did when the ultimately got rid of Nugent. Also Marshall Koehn — who kicked for the Bengals during Bullock’s injury — would likely be on the short list for replacing Bullock. The Bengals also worked out Andrew Frank and Jason Meyers when they signed Koehn.