The Patriots have been on a roll of late, winning five straight games and seizing control of the AFC East in the process. The defense has complimented the offense, and the special teams have even gotten in on the big-play act with three scores during that time.
But one area that has endured a little bit of a rough patch in the past two weeks is the field goal team, as kicker Stephen Gostkowski has missed kicks from under 40 yards in consecutive games. The kicks came on the heels of a five-game stretch in which Gostkowski had been perfect on 10 field goal attempts, and he has connected on 21 of 26 (81 percent) of his kicks this season.
Despite the recent struggles, special teams coach Scott O'Brien remains confident in the seven-year veteran.
"I have a lot of confidence in Stephen," O'Brien said during a conference call on Tuesday. "I don’t think he’s lost his confidence at all. He’s missed a couple that he’d like to have back, we all would like to have back, but the most important thing is that he can learn from either the misses or the ones he does make to make sure he can correct himself if he does miss. There’s probably nobody more disappointed when he does miss it than himself."
He credited Gostkowski's competitiveness and drive as a player.
"He’s a self-starter, he’s very competitive, he works very hard at it," he said. "The good thing is when he makes contact, he has a pretty good idea of what has happened as a result so he can [move] on to get ready to kick the next one.
O'Brien also added that made or missed field goals are composed of more than just the kick itself; they require a sound operation from multiple parts.
"And again, there are a lot of things that have to happen well for him," he continued. "We have to snap the ball good for him. We have to hold it good for him and then obviously give him the opportunity to kick the ball and make the field goal. But, I don’t think there’s any concern about the confidence."