Philadelphia Eagles: Welp, at least Jake Elliott is kicking good

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

When a team hires a new head coach, sometimes they hit the ground running. Sometimes the coach comes in hot with a revolutionary scheme, the players pick up on it quickly, and a league is quite literally taken by storm in the way few expected outside of the training facility.

It happened with Chip Kelly in 2013, with Sean McVay in 2017, and most recently with Ron Rivera in 2020, who turned a team that finished 3-13 in 2019 into a division winner despite his team lacking a real name for crying out loud.

… and other times? Well, other times, it turns out like the first three games of the Philadelphia Eagles‘ 2021 season.

Now granted, I’m not willing to write off the season as a disaster just yet. Sure, the passing game is bad, the rushing game is bad, the time management game is bad, and even the defense showed some badness in a Week 3 beatdown by the Dallas Cowboys, the Eagles aren’t without their bright spots.

Take, for example, Javon Hargrave, who has been the most statistically dominant defensive tackle through the first three games of the 2021 NFL season. Despite having a down season in his first away from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Hargrave is only .5 sacks away from matching his total in 2020 on 461 fewer defensive snaps.

On the offensive side of the ball, both Quez Watkins and Miles Sanders have looked darn good when the ball is (occasionally) sent their way, leading the team in receiving and rushing yards through three games. If Nick Sirianni opts to target the duo more often, the duo should continue to shine as the Eagles’ brightest young offensive weapons.

I mean, Arryn Siposs; need I say more?

But do you want to know who the most surprising under-the-radar bright spot of the 2021 season has been so far? For my money, that’d be Jake Elliott, who is having a bounce-back campaign after an ugly string of outings in 2020.

Jake Elliott is a block away from being perfect for the Philadelphia Eagles.

If the Philadelphia Eagles could have released Jake Elliott in 2020, they likely would have.

After turning in a trio of excellent seasons from 2017-19 and signing a very lucrative five-year, $19.3 million extension in November of 2019, Elliott’s game fell off the wagon in a big way in 2020.

His field goal percentage? Dropped from 84.1 to 73.7. How about his extra points percentage? That dropped too, from a 93.9 on 114 total attempts to a 92.3 percent on 26 attempts. Elliott even saw his average kickoff yardage dip drown from 62.4 in 2019 to 61.8. in 2020.

Had Howie Roseman worked an out into his contract after the 2021 NFL season, Elliott would likely be on another NFL team as we speak today or at least would have faced harsh competition from an outside challenger at camp, but alas, that was simply impossible.

Why? Because releasing Elliott would have added $5.6 million in dead money to the Eagles’ cap, which is $3.57 million more than keeping him around for the 2021 season.

No, the Eagles’ best hope was for new special teams coordinator Michael Clay to come in and get Elliott back to his vintage form moving forward, if for no other reason than that he was a borderline guarantee to make the roster from a financial perspective.

Fortunately, it worked.

Since taking the field for the Eagles this fall, Elliott has been perfect on all six of his extra points attempts and made all of the field goals he got off cleanly. While he hasn’t been perfect, as he did have a kick blocked by Javon Kinlaw in the second quarter of the team’s eventual loss to the San Francisco 49ers, even Clay called that play a perfect storm of converging events and didn’t hold Elliott explicitly responsible.

With a few more games and enough offensive progression to actually get the team into field goal range, Elliott should see his field goal percentage rise back up in no time, hopefully into the mid-80s like in seasons past.

If that happens? Well, at least we won’t have to collectively hold our breath anytime Elliott and company take the field for an attempt at three points, even if we probably will anyway.

Next. Shane Steichen should place a call to Forrest Lamp. dark

Is Jake Elliott fixed? Did Michael Clay drop some revolutionary insight that David Fipp simply didn’t possess, and now everything is copasetic? Honestly, your guess is as good as mine. In the NFL, every kick is different. The wind conditions can vary, as can the condition of the field and even the quality of the snap/hold the preceded it. All I know is that the Philadelphia Eagles are a better team when Elliott is an asset, not an aberration, which appears to be the case in 2021.