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Did the Buffalo Bills choose wisely with kicker Tyler Bass?

We have a definitive answer

One of the more hotly debated camp battles this season was at the kicker position. Stephen Hauschka’s decline in 2019 was widely recognized, but rookie Tyler Bass was an unknown. Making matters worse, with no preseason games and limited media coverage at camp it was difficult for fans to compare the two.

That didn’t stop me from trying to compare two hypothetical kickers to see who the Buffalo Bills might be better off keeping. With Bass winning the coaches’ favor, the next step was to make some projections for rookie kickers. Feel free to review the entire thing here.

For a quick summary, in the last decade rookie kickers were asked to kick an average of 23.8 field goals in their first year, hitting about 77 percent of those tries. That was about 5 percent worse than the 2019 average of 81.7 percent accuracy. Despite some evidence to suggest rookie kickers struggled, teams were generally patient as they averaged playing in 13 games in their first year. This group is labeled as “All rookies” in the chart below.

I also dove a little into the long game by looking at how 25 veteran kickers fared on kicks of 50+ yards in their rookie seasons (the “Survivor” rookies group below). Combining the two looks, I sought to answer if Bass should be expected to be a good kicker right away and, if so, should we expect accuracy at range. Here’s that chart summarizing some of the key data, including Tyler Bass’s season.

How has he fared? Pretty darn well. While technically a tick above average in overall accuracy and 50+ kicks, he’s close enough to perfect average to roll with that label. However, he’s a healthier amount higher than the “All rookies” category in overall accuracy and right around the “Survivor” rookies. While he’s decently below the survivor group in 50+ kicks, the sample size of kicks in that range makes that harder to draw definitive conclusions from.

Some other thoughts:

  • As noted above, the rookie group attempted about 24 kicks on average. Tyler Bass tried 34, quite a bit higher than average.
  • Bass attempted six longer kicks, which was higher than the survivor group was trusted with on average (3.84).
  • Bass hasn’t missed a kick since November 8, against the Seahawks.
  • Five of his six misses were in the first half of the regular season.
  • As a reminder, Bass now has the most points in a single season for the Bills with 141.
  • Bass hit three separate kicks of 50+ in one game against the Cardinals, including this 58-yarder for his season (and career) long.