Hindsight is always clearer than foresight. But there was plenty to question about the NY Giants’ decision to give a contract to Aldrick Rosas prior to his most recent DUI arrest.
After an unproductive season of field goals and extra points, the front office of the NY Giants had their starting kicker locked in on the depth chart. At least they thought they did until that kicker was arrested on June 15 for a hit-and-run incident.
Aldrick Rosas, the Giants starting kicker since the 2017 season, signed a one-year contract with the team earlier this offseason. He was slated to earn a salary of $3.3 million in 2020, according to spotrac.com. That’s a tremendous increase from his previous contracts with the team. In his first two-year deal he earned an average of $510 thousand per year, before increasing to $645 thousand in a one-year deal in 2019.
The Giants made Rosas a restricted free agent prior to the signing, perhaps to indicate their interest in keeping the former Pro Bowler, or simply to hedge losing him. No other team seemed to express any interest, however.
The one-year contract also seemed to indicated caution, and data certainly justifies their worries.
His 2018 season was a mirage
Aldrick Rosas made only 12 field goals in the 2019 season. Not only was that the fewest made in the NFC East that year, but it was also the fewest made in the division in the past five years, according to data from NFL.com. The previous low was 18, also by the Rosas in 2017, his first year with the Giants.
Thus far in his early career, Rosas’ 2018 Pro Bowl campaign seems to be an outlier. That year, he made 97 percent of his kicks, going 32 of 33 throughout the regular season. But 2018 was the only year he made over 20 kicks.
His two other seasons are considerably more troubling. Rosas’ 71% conversion rate in 2019 was the lowest in the NFC East over the past five years. The previous low was 72%, also by Rosas in 2017.
Extra Points, no longer the “gimmies” they once were, are another reason for concern for Rosas and the Giants. Though he had a career-high of 35 made in 2019, his 90% conversion rate was the lowest in the division. That marks the second time in his three-year career in which his conversion rate was the lowest of the division.
Bad kicking stresses the NY Giants offense
While all teams in the NFC East experienced a decrease in field goals per game, none were as low as the NY Giants. At .8 field goals per game, the 2019 Giants were the only team in the NFC East over the past five years whose FG/G was below 1, according to data from NFL.com.
When a coach doesn’t trust his kicker, it seems that the offense is doomed to stay on the field longer and go for more third down and fourth down conversions.
In 2018, Aldrick Rosas’ Pro Bowl year, the team ran 984 plays, the fewest plays in Rosas’ three seasons, and a five-year low for the team. Further, the team’s 6055 yards were the highest in Rosas’ three years.
In 2018, Big Blue also had the fewest third-down attempts (206) and fourth-down attempts (20) with Rosas as the starting kicker. Seemingly, this is because they trusted him enough to convert his field goals.
In his down years, the NY Giants were forced to go for it more often. In 2017 the Giants has 227 third-down attempts and 21 fourth-down attempts; in 2019 the team had 212 third-down attempts and 31 fourth-down attempts.
The increase in fourth-down attempts in 2019 also coincides with the lack of field goal attempts. Rosas only attempted 17 field goals in 2019, the only time in the past five years a kicker in the NFC had fewer than 20 attempts.
It is beneficial to choose when and how you go for it on third and fourth down.
2018 conversion percentages in both categories were the highest in Rosas’ tenure. Further, the NY Giants’ 60% conversion rate for a fourth down in 2018 was a five-year high for the team. The NY Giants only converted on 45% of fourth-down attempts in 2019.
Do the NY Giants have a culture problem?
Data tells one side of the story. Attitude tells the other.
Of course, it’s easy to kick a kicker while they’re down. This is Rosas’ second DUI since 2016. Alcohol and substance abuse is a real problem, and a seemingly increasing one within the NFL. The player’s union has fought hard to loosen restrictions on medicinal marijuana as opposed to addictive opioids to cope with the endless ailments absorbed during a season.
But where there is smoke there tends to be fire. Aldrick Rosas is the second NY Giants’ player this offseason who has been arrested, and there is still plenty of time before the season starts.
Arguably, he was going to make more money than his numbers showed he deserved, money that can be better spent looking for a more productive kicker.
If the goal of David Gettleman was to change the culture of the locker room, he has thus far failed. New head coach Joe Judge will have to take command before it completely shatters. This would be a delicate job for a veteran coach; it is a mountainous task for a first-year coach.