Throughout the thirteen seasons that Sean Payton has coached the New Orleans Saints, the offense has consistently been at the top of the league with perennial Pro-Bowler Drew Brees at the helm. For as consistent as the offense has been, the kicking unit has been all but that.
Of course, that was before Wil Lutz strolled into the Saints facility in 2016 after failing to land on the 53-man roster of the Baltimore Ravens. Since then, Lutz has seen his field goal percentage go up each year and has finally stabilized the merry-go-round of kickers that Payton has brought in throughout his time here.
In his rookie season, Lutz was more accurate than three of the last four kickers to play for the team. Hitting 28 out of an attempted 34 kicks, Lutz went for 82.4%. The man who kicked us to the Super Bowl back in 2009—Garrett Hartley—had his best season in 2011 making 18 out of 22 attempts for 81.8%, but wasn’t able to outdo what Lutz did in his first year.
Lutz’s second season in 2017 saw his accuracy increase to 86.1%, including nailing four out of five kicks from 50 yards or more. This would be the highest rate of made field goals since Shayne Graham made 86.4% of his kicks in 2014, attempting only 22 field goals compared to Lutz’s 36 attempts.
This season, Lutz was able to hit 93.3% of his field goal attempts, missing only 2 of his 30 attempts. That’s the highest percentage for a Saints kicker with at least 15 attempts. The last kicker in the Payton era to kick above 90% was back in his first season in New Orleans, when John Carney was able to connect on 92% of his attempts.
Lutz would also go on to break Morten Andersen’s franchise record of 25 consecutive field goals made when he hit his 26th in a row against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16. His second field goal attempt that game was blocked, marking the first time he missed a kick since week two against the Cleveland Browns.
When it came to extra points, Lutz was nearly perfect, missing only once out of 53 attempts. That was good for fourth in the league, but the top three kickers all had less than 35 attempts.
With so many playoff games coming down to one kick, Saints fans should feel confident that they have a reliable kicker on Payton’s team. Even if it took him ten tries to find the right one.