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Evan McPherson is starting 2022 just like his rookie season

Is a similar finish in store as well?

Carolina Panthers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

It is not normal to go this long without seeing Evan McPherson drain a field goal.

The last time the Cincinnati Bengals’ second-year placekicker did so was in Week 6 against the New Orleans Saints from 52-yards out. At that point in the season, McPherson had missed just two field goals on the year, with one being blocked.

In the last three weeks, McPherson has missed the only two attempts he’s had. Is it time to panic?

Let’s slow it down for a second.

The Bengals’ recent offensive renaissance has given McPherson plenty of reps from 33 yards out. In his last three games, McPherson has attempted 13 extra points and has made 12 of them. In his regular season career, he’s 77-81 from that 30-39 yards out including PATs and field goals. Nothing out of the ordinary there.

A spike in touchdowns typically means a drop in field goals, which has been exactly the case for McPherson. He’s attempted two in the last three weeks, which is the lowest he’s had in any three-game span in his young career.

That he’s missed both of them is unfortunate, but is it also a sign of what’s to come? The Bengals also had a Week 10 bye last season, so let’s see how efficient he was at this point year to his 2022 campaign.

Evan McPherson Weeks 1-9

Money Mac 2021 2022
Money Mac 2021 2022
Field Goals Made 11 11
Field Goals Attempted 14 15
Extra Points Made 27 23
Extra Points Attempted 27 25
40-49 Yard Made 2 4
40-49 Yard Attempts 4 7
50+ Yard Made 3 4
50+ Yard Attempts 4 4

Despite the 5-4 records at the bye, the 2021 Bengals aren’t exactly like this year’s team—unless you only look at McPherson’s production.

Before the stretch of games that got the Bengals in the playoffs, most people outside of Cincinnati paid no attention to McPherson. He was just another rookie kicker finding his way. McPherson’s notoriety, and expectations, officially rose through the roof from Week 11 through the Super Bowl. He made 31 of 33 field goals and 25 of 27 PATs, with exactly zero misses in four postseason contests. His 14 field goals in the playoffs tied Adam Vinatieri’s record, and even the future Hall of Famer missed one of his attempts during that 2006 run with the Indianapolis Colts.

To see McPherson back where he started his career—which was only a year ago—is indeed underwhelming after a historic end to his rookie year. But the nature of the position means dominance is easily replaced by the yips by the measliest of missed opportunities. McPherson was hot, now he’s slightly cold. The pendulum for non-Justin Tucker kickers is never regular.

McPherson’s aforementioned lack of recent attempts doesn’t help in terms of getting out of a slump. That doesn’t mean the Bengals should settle for more field goals, it just means they’re effectively offsetting the lull.

The bye week presents an interesting crossroads for the 23-year old specialist. We’re either seeing the middle of a forgettable season for McPherson, or the beginning of a second-consecutive turnaround for one of the best young kickers in the game.

It’s up to Money Mac to determine which it’s going to be.