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Wil Lutz had a shaky year after 3 previous seasons of excellence

Saints kicker has worst field goal percentage of career, but was it a mirage?

New Orleans Saints v Chicago Bears Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Saints kicker Wil Lutz has been one of the more reliable players on the team since joining in 2016. From 2017-2019, Lutz made 89.44% of his kicks, which ranks among the best in the NFL over that period. However, in 2020, Lutz made just 82.14% of his kicks, the worst of his career, and good for 21st in the NFL. Lutz was just 1-3 on 50+ yard attempts, while finishing 5 for 6 on 20-29 yarders, 10 for 10 on 30-39 yarders, and 7 for 9 on 40-49 yarders. The mid-range for Lutz seems to still be rock solid, as his sole miss from under 40 yards occurred in the windy city of Chicago in a game that he would ultimately go on to make the game winner. More good news for Lutz is that he only missed one PAT all year, which did not occur until Week 17.

Lutz’s struggles from long range however are going to be something that must prove to be a fluke rather than the norm if Lutz is to remain the undisputed kicker in New Orleans. From Weeks 10-14, Lutz went just 2 for 6 from 40+ yards, missing two long attempts against the Eagles in a game the Saints would go on to lose by three points.

This of course is worrisome for the Saints kicker, but when you consider he attempted the fewest amount of field goals in his career in 2020 at just 28 attempts, it can explain why his percentage was so low. Lutz missed the same amount of kicks from 40+ yards in 2019 as he did in 2020, but in 2019, he attempted 20 such kicks while attempting only 12 from this range in 2020. A ratio of 16 out of 20 comes out as 80%, while a ratio of 8 for 12 comes out as 67%. Missing the same amount of kicks on fewer attempts of course is a bad sign, but who’s to say Lutz wouldn’t have made his next four attempts from 40+ yards?

More good news for Lutz is that he came through in the clutch for the Saints on multiple occasions. He was perfect on tying/go-ahead field goals in the 4th quarter and overtime, and hit three FGs in three straight weeks that proved to be the deciders.

The first of these came against the Chargers in Week 5. Lutz nailed a 36 yarder in overtime to put the Saints up by three. The Saints defense then forced a turnover on downs and the Saints walked away with a win on Monday Night Football.

His second game deciding field goal came after the bye week in Week 7 against the division rival Carolina Panthers. Lutz made a 43 yarder halfway through the 4th quarter to give the Saints a three point lead that they never relinquished.

Lutz’s sole walk off kick of the year however came in Week 8 against the Bears, once again in overtime. The Saints had held the Bears to just 8 yards on their first drive in OT, and got the ball back with a chance to win the game on a field goal. They promptly drove 52 yards down the field, and set Lutz up with a 35 yarder that he drilled to win the game for New Orleans.

Lutz’s issues from long range are certainly something that is going to need to improve if he is to remain the Saints kicker. However, he can still come through in the clutch and his low percentage very well could have been a product of a low number of attempts. I am still very confident in Wil Lutz and believe he will be a very solid kicker for the Saints for a very long time.

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