Eagles Should Give Cody Parkey Long Leash


The Philadelphia Eagles may have to be patient with their kicker. 

Regardless of whether or not you believe Chip Kelly should have had the Eagles go for it on fourth down on the edge of field-goal range, one thing was clear: there’s no way there should have been a field-goal attempt on that play.

After signing two downhill running-backs in the off-season, I would have gone for it on fourth down using one of the two in an attempt to gain the one yard necessary to keep the drive alive. And Kelly was indecisive on the decision himself, leading to Cody Parkey not even getting close to being ready for the ball to be snapped until there were only six seconds left on the play-clock. The most important play of the game was treated like an insignificant afterthought.

Of course, we now know that Parkey went on to miss what would have been a go-ahead 44-yard field goal. I wouldn’t have attempted the field-goal, but if Kelly decided more than halfway through the play-clock that he was going to go that route, then he should have used a time-out to allow Parkey enough time to actually get into position to kick the ball.

Parkey, who struggled with injuries down the stretch of the 2014 season — a year in which he was Pro-Bowler — didn’t appear to look healthy in the first pre-season game against the Indianapolis Colts. Him not playing the rest of the pre-season did little alleviate that concern. And last night’s missed field-goal, whether it was caused by an injury or him being rushed, heightened concerns about Parkey.

In some senses, you would almost prefer to find out that Parkey is still dealing with a nagging injury. It would be somewhat concerning that he’s been hurt a couple times in his short NFL career, but less than concerning than if he’s healthy and something isn’t clicking.

After the position was a liability for the Eagles in 2013, so much so that it may have cost them a chance at defeating the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round of the playoffs, Parkey made it a strength a season ago. Not only did he demonstrate that he was able to hit 50 plus yard field-goals, but he almost never missed driving the ball through the end-zone on kick-offs, going a great way in helping the Eagles to win the battle of field position.

Sep 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles kicker Cody Parkey (1) reacts after missing a 44 year field goal against the Atlanta Falcons in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Parkey was only a rookie, a 22 year-old out of Auburn, meaning that he not only fixed one of the team’s flaws in the short-term, but he figured to be in the picture for at least a decade.

Somehow, in that line of thinking, we forgot what position Parkey played. The most scoffed at position in the sport also happens to be one of (if not) the most mental positions in the sport.

Perhaps Parkey is banged up now, leading to him missing that field-goal like he did in the team’s Week 16 loss to the Washington Redskins a season ago. Or perhaps missing field-goals late in the season last year, got him out of the groove that he seemingly was in for almost all of his rookie season.

If Parkey is struggling more mentally than he is physically, the Eagles should absolutely be patient with him, even if it costs them some crucial points this season. The main reason for being patient with Parkey isn’t because he’s young, it’s because he happens to be someone that is young and has demonstrated the ability to be an elite kicker.

It’s easier to dump someone like Alex Henery when they start to have a decline in performance, considering Henery never had a great range and was one of the league’s worst kickers in terms of kick-offs.

Parkey is the opposite of that when he’s on, which we saw a season ago. So in the same way that the Green Bay Packers stuck with Mason Crosby through some thin times despite being very much in contention, the Eagles should do that if it comes to that point with Parkey.

If he is dealing with injuries, as I mentioned above, that’s a separate concern. Not only does Parkey have to worry about hitting crucial field-goals for the team, but given the new extra-point rules, adding on the PAT won’t be any lock as the season progresses and temperatures drop.

Should the Eagles feel that they need to limit Parkey’s work-load, be it because he is banged up or because they feel he isn’t very durable, one potential idea would be to bring in a second kicker for kick-offs. Even though Parkey is very good at doing those, perhaps taking that out would allow for him to stay healthier for field-goal and extra point attempts.

The dangerous part of that idea, like signing a poor-fielding first baseman to be a designated hitter for the first time, would be that Parkey may need to do kick-offs to feel comfortable. He’s probably done all three for his entire life, and doing well on kick-offs may allow him to get his mind off of failed field-goal attempts.

In either case, it’s important to keep things in perspective. If Parkey does struggle this season due to injuries or a mental block, he’s still someone that was elite at his position a season ago. He’s worth riding through struggles, if he continues to endure them.

Next: Five Takeaways From Eagles' Loss to Falcons

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