Eagle Eye: Eagles-Giants predictions
Alex Henery has missed one field goal in each of the last three games. (AP)
Alex Henery compared his recent field goal slump to someone’s struggling golf swing.
On his last three misses, one in each of the past three games, Henery said he arrived too quickly at the ball. When that happens, he’s forced to pull back and slow up while his leg is still catapulting toward the ball.
“That’s when your leg comes up and your hips either open or close,” Henery explained. “It’s a lot like swinging a golf club. If you’re swinging at it and bring your head up, you may miss it that way, you may miss this way. It’s whichever way you fall off on it. That’s probably the best way to describe it for someone to understand.”
For scratch golfers, Henery’s explanation might sound logical, rational and fairly simple to correct.
For 99.9 percent of the rest of the world, the idea that Henery’s glitch is comparable to a bad golf swing seems scary and ominous, comparable to an ace right-hander losing too many miles off his fastball.
Henery assured that the problem isn’t just fixable, but that it’s already been fixed.
“I picked up on watching film this week that I was real fast from the site when the ball actually gets down and you see it,” he said. “Actually, [special teams coordinator Dave] Fipp was the one that kind of gave it to me.
“He saw it and when I watched film, too, I saw it, too. Collectively, we worked with it. That’s kicking. You’ve got to keep working. It’s not the last kick, it’s the next kick. Just got to keep moving on and trust it and keep up the confidence.”
Still, missing once is unbecoming of Henery, who went from being the NCAA’s most accurate kicker of all-time to setting an NFL rookie record for make percentage (before Justin Tucker and Blair Walsh broke it last season) to making 22 straight last year in his second season.
Missing three times? That’s an unprecedented slump.
“Yeah, I don’t think I’ve ever done it my kicking career,” he said.
Henery has actually missed kicks in four of his past five games going back to last year’s 42-7 loss in the season finale at MetLife Stadium, the same stadium where the reeling Eagles (1-3) and winless Giants (0-4) play in Sunday’s showdown between the NFC East rivals.
All three of Henery’s kicks missed from long distance -- twice from 46 and once from 48. Neither of the past two mattered very much -- the Eagles fell to Denver by 32 points and Kansas City by 10 -- but the 46-yarder that didn’t hook enough and missed wide right in a 33-30 loss to the Chargers at the Linc came back to haunt him.
Down 21-13 to the Broncos last Sunday in the waning minutes of the first half, head coach Chip Kelly elected to punt on 4th-and-6 instead of attempting a 56-yard field goal. Denver’s high altitude is known to be friendly for long-distance kicks.
The careful play call provoked questions about Kelly’s confidence in Henery, questions Kelly dismissed this week. Kelly said Henery’s “been really good” in practice.
“I haven't seen anything,” Kelly said. “So I think, like most people, I think he's at 85 percent in his career, so when I send Alex out on the field, it's not [like] you've kind of got your fingers crossed hoping he's going to punch one through. I consider it [as] we've got three here. I'm disappointed every time we go to kick the three because you want seven, but I don't go out there thinking I'm not sure he's going to make this one.”
As for Henery’s confidence in himself?
“I don’t think my confidence has really changed,” he said. “I’m not one to get too high or too low. It’s just kind of the life of a kicker. You make a game-winning kick, you may miss the next one and you’re right back to where you started off. The more even keel you can be, the better, so I wouldn’t say my confidence changed.”