Mon, 18 Jan 2021

Kliff Kingsbury Not Worried About Zane Gonzalez's Confidence

Arizona Cardinals
01 Dec 2020, 18:03 GMT+10

Cardinals kicker has missed three late-game kicks, including go-ahead field goal against Patriots Kyle Odegard

Kicking can be a lonely profession when things aren't going well, but Kliff Kingsbury isn't concerned about the psyche of Zane Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has missed three important late-game kicks in recent weeks against the Seahawks, Dolphins and Patriots.

He was able to redeem himself with a game-winning overtime field goal against Seattle, but the errant attempts against Miami and New England contributed to close losses.

"I don't (wonder about his confidence)," Kingsbury said. "Zane understands (high-profile attempts) come with the territory. Those are kicks we've got to make. He's been really good for us, and he understands that we've got to make those kicks when we have that opportunity."

Gonzalez missed a potential game-winning overtime field goal against Seattle in Week 7, but an Isaiah Simmons interception allowed him to hit a 48-yarder for the 37-34 win.

In Week 9, Miami kicker Jason Sanders hit a go-ahead 50-yard field goal with 3:30 remaining and Gonzalez left short a 49-yard attempt with 1:58 to go that would have tied the game.

On Sunday, Gonzalez missed a 45-yard attempt with 1:52 remaining and Nick Folk hit a 50-yarder as time expired for the 20-17 win.

Gonzalez, who was a Pro Bowl alternate last season, has connected on 16-of-21 field goals this season, a 76.2% success rate that is among the lowest for NFL kickers. Kingsbury told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM that neither he nor the organization has lost confidence in Gonzalez's ability.

"He's been really good for us," Kingsbury said. "Zane knows he's got to make those kicks when they arise, and we believe he will moving forward."

On the flip-side, kickers have been impressive against the Cardinals this season. Opponents are a combined 21-of-23 in field goal attempts, which includes game-winners from Sanders, Folk and Lions kicker Matt Prater.

The only two field goal misses against the Cardinals were inconsequential: Joey Slye missed a 42-yarder with the Panthers ahead 31-14 in the fourth quarter of Week 4. Greg Zuerlein missed a 58-yard attempt with the Cowboys trailing 31-3 in the third quarter of Week 6.

The kicking game wasn't the only special teams issue in New England. The kickoff coverage unit allowed a 53-yard return by Donte Moncrief to set up the Patriots' lone first-half score.

Gunner Olszewski returned a punt for a touchdown in the third quarter, though it was called back due to an illegal blindside block. The Patriots still ended up with the ball at the Arizona 39 and scored a field goal on the drive.

The coverage unit was without Trent Sherfield because he landed on the COVID-19 list prior to the game. His absence was particularly notable when replacement gunner Andy Isabella flew past Olszewski on his return.

Kingsbury said he hopes to get Sherfield back for Sunday's game against the Rams.

"He's a big part of (the coverage teams), there's no question," Kingsbury said. "We've got to make those plays when we have the opportunity regardless of who is out there, but he takes a lot of pride in that. We take a lot of pride in that unit. He's been really solid for us."

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