In the wake of kicker Graham Gano’s latest miss in a close game, Panthers coach Ron Rivera offered a tepid endorsement, saying “We’ll see” when asked about his job security.
But on Monday, Rivera defended his kicker, and came with stats to back it up.
“We’re going to stand pat,” Rivera said, via Bill Voth of Black and Blue Review. “If you go back and you evaluate it as an extra-point kicker, he’s right about 95 percent, which is a little bit more than league average I believe. And then in clutch kicks, again he’s well above the league average. Maybe he’s having where he’s missed one here or there and they’re not what cost you football games. There was one — Denver, the opener. Other than that, he’s been very solid for us and he’s done a good job. I think what we’ve got to do is just continue to work at it.
“The guy’s one of the best kickoff guys in the league, he’s got an exceptionally strong leg, and as I said, we’re going to evaluate everything. I know I was asked a question yesterday, I know there was an article written about it, which prompted me to speed up my review of things as far as that’s concerned just so I had these answers.”
Gano missed a potential game-winning field goal at Denver in the opener, as well as one against the Buccaneers and an extra point Sunday against the Saints, three games the Panthers lost by a combined seven points. Throw in a missed field goal against the Vikings which would have made their lead 13-2 in a game they eventually lost 22-10, and it’s been a rough season for Gano.
He’s 9-of-12 on all field goals, a 75.0 percent mark which is 23rd in the league. He’s 14-of-16 on extra points, an 88-percent mark that’s 30th in the league. He also has one of the highest cap values for a kicker in the NFL, after signing a four-year contract in 2014.