Breaking Down Recent Harrison Butker Criticism
Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker has had a shortened season due to an ankle injury in week one. Since coming back, he has reserved a lot of hate for his performance.
However, the numbers don’t back up the fans’ frustration for his mishaps. Yes, Butker has missed field goals this year and yes a couple of those may have won ball games. However, his accuracy rate is still at bare minimum average.
If you look at the straight overall percentage, Butker has one of the worst with a 76.2 accuracy rate. This does not tell the entire story. NFL kicking stats are broken down into five different categories. These are the five categories: under 20 yards, 20-29,30-39,40-49 and over 50.
Out of those categories, Butker has had success in three of the most common categories. Those are 20-29, where he is 7/7 on the year. From 30-39, Butker is 4/5 and 40-49 he is 2/3. This means for field goals under 50 Butker is 13/15 or is making 86% of the most common field goals.
Among 34 qualifying kickers in the NFL, (qualifying meaning they attempted more than 10 attempts) the average rate of success for an NFL kicker in 2022 is exactly 86%.
Harrison Butker is having a similar season to kickers like Tennessee Titans kicker Randy Bullock or Philadelphia kicker Jake Elliott. Both are quality franchise kickers that deserve roster spots on NFL teams.
Some frustration has been exerted to Butker missing PATs, giving him a poor reputation. This year he has missed three PATs. That is the same number of PAT misses as Bengals kicker Evan McPherson.
Unfortunately for Butker, a few of his long field goal misses have come at critical moments during games. All three of Butkers missed 50 plus yard field goals that came in a crucial moment of a game.. Two of those games the Chiefs would end up losing.
The first miss came in week seven against the Buffalo Bills. With the game tied at 10, the Chiefs would get the ball to start the second half. After a 5 minute, 11 play drive, Butker would miss a 51 yard field goal that gave the Bills a short field to score a touchdown.
The next long miss would come against the Cincinnati Bengals. A Butker missed 55 yard field goal would come on the Chiefs last chance to tie the game. The Chiefs would never get the ball back and proceeded to lose that ball game.
The most recent miss was not as dire of a situation as the previous two. However, it is still an issue. The Chiefs were looking to avoid overtime against the Houston Texans and with time expiring Butker was sent out to take the lead. The miss was a no harm/no foul situation as the Chiefs would be able to rally in OT to leave with a win.
The problem is that the bad moments are criticized more than the good moments are praised. No one is talking about the 62 yard record breaking field goal he hit earlier this year. Nor about his at least average accuracy.
Butker has been an extremely serviceable kicker who can get the job done when needed.
Not all of the blame can or should be put at Butker. There is evidence some of his missed kicks, may have been caused by a bad snap and hold. An accumulation of poor chemistry and a bad ankle has proven to hurt Butker’s on field performance. I would still contend that as his worst, Butker being just average is better than what other teams are looking for.
Nonetheless, this is an issue in which can hopefully be resolved come playoff time. But, the Chiefs and Harrison Butker will be just fine.