We are still months away from the 2020-2021 NFL season from starting. However, with all of the important changes made in New England, the kicker position may be the underrated one. The Patriots used their Fifth-round draft pick on Marshall University’s Justin Rohrwasser. The soon-to-be rookie has big shoes to fill.
It was no surprise the Patriots had issues moving the ball and putting points up on the board last season. This was partly a result of the 3x Super Bowl Champion Stephen Gostkowski being out for majority of the season with a left hip injury. New England was forced to sign Mike Nugent and Nick Folk midseason. Nugent was eventually released after four games, and Folk played subpar. Now with the kicker situation settled, it’s time for Rohrwasser to be the main guy.
The past players who filled the New England kicker position are future Hall-of-Famers. Adam Vinatieri has won three Super Bowls with New England in dramatic fashion; including two game winning field goals in Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXVIII. Not to mention the countless unsung field goals in the postseason by Gostkowski that led New England to Super Bowls. Since 1996 the Patriots have kept these two kickers as their reliable kicking source. Now that has changed and Rohrwasser is up next.
Justin Rohrwasser spent his first two college years at the University of Rhode Island before transferring to Marshall. While in Rhode Island he made an impressive 75% of his field goal attempts. In 2019 he was Conference USA’s Special Teams Most Valuable Player.
Given that the Patriots will now be led by a young quarterback, the kicking game will be even more important. Bill Belichick emphasizes the importance of starting field position. It will all start on the kick off and whether Rohrwasser will be able to pin teams deep. There has been talks of bringing former Special Teams coach Bill O’Brien out of retirement. But for now, kick offs and field goals will be something to watch out for.
Last season the Patriots went for it on fourth down more than they wanted to. The lack of trust in the kicker position hindered the Patriots in a significant way. If Rohrwasser is able to execute early, expect to see Belichick showing more trust in the 23 year old.
From past history, New England likes to stick with one kicker over a long time. And over that time, the kicking game has saved New England multiple times. Whether it’s field position, onside kicks, 40+ yard field goals, or extra points. With a strong defense from New England and newly gelling offense, expect more field goal attempts. Even with a coach like Belichick who likes to go for it.
This can be the start of a new era. And this new era just may start from the kicking position if history repeats itself.
Feature Image via The Boston Globe