For the second time this season, there’s some panic regarding Cincinnati Bengals kicker Evan McPherson.
The second-year specialist missed a total of three kicks during Saturday’s frigid cold win in New England, though one didn’t count due to a penalty by the Patriots. The underwhelming performance put a halt to a near-perfect five game stretch McPherson had after he underwent a minor slump during the middle of the year.
It was by far the coldest game the Bengals have played in all year, and the coldest McPherson says he ever played in, period. The low temperatures and wind chill do have an impact on a kicker’s mechanics, according to McPherson’s coach.
“When it’s cold outside, it is more difficult for those guys to get through the ball,” special teams coordinator Darrion Simmons said this week. “Your muscles just don’t respond the same, everything is slower. Everything is tighter, so I certainly think that had an effect on him.”
While the freezing environment was more of an anomaly, it’s ultimately something McPherson has to overcome if it appears again. Imperfect conditions are a part of the sport, especially playing in the north for most of the year.
“He’s got to learn to develop and maintain his timing. I think it’s got to be a bigger focus to him that he’s got to go a little faster and he’s got to pull harder. It’s a fine balance that you walk.”
Though McPherson has developed an earned reputation for being clutch at such a young age, he has had struggles from time to time since being drafted last year. His raw power has made him successful at such an early age, and the better his mechanics and timing become, the more consistent he can be from any range.
Every scoring opportunity is amplified in January and February. The Bengals will need the McPherson from last year’s playoff run to help them achieve similar results.