Due to a groin injury to kicker Dan Carpenter before Week 16′s match up against the Buffalo Bills, the Dolphins brought in veteran kicker Nate Kaeding from San Diego to replace Carpenter for the final two weeks. In two games with the Phins, Kaeding was 1 for 3 on field goal attempts, and had one blocked at the line of scrimmage against the Bills. On a positive note, Kaeding was a perfect 3 for 3 on extra points, and only had 2 of his 6 kick offs returned, averaging an impressive 63.5 yard avg per kick off.
Miami simply brought Kaeding in to replace the injured Carpenter. Kaeding earned the honor of being the most accurate kicker in NFL history after his 2011 season with the San Diego Chargers, and boasts and NFL best 87.0% field goal made percentage. However, Kaeding failed to make two of his three field goals in his short stint as a Dolphin this year (both kicks were under 50 yards) and one can only wonder if Kaeding is the same record-setting kicker he was before a groin injury led to his release from the Chargers back in Week 4.
Even with Carpenter healthy next year, I still see the Dolphins bringing in another kicker (whether its Kaeding or not) to compete with Carpenter for the starting job. Poor field goal kicking haunted the Dolphins this year, and led to painful overtime losses against the Cardinals and Jets, losses that could have changed Miami’s season. Before he was injured, Carpenter seemed to be back in his form (he was a perfect 9/9 since Miami’s win over Seattle). Whether or not we see Kaeding in teal and orange next year has still been undecided. Based on his performance in the two games he played in at the end of the year, I think we can expect to see Kaeding released sometime this off season. If not, then Miami plans on keeping him to challenge Dan Carpenter for the starting job.
It is hard to give Kaeding a grade due to the brevity of his time in Miami. He only kicked in two games, but he failed to back up his reputation as the most accurate kicker in NFL history, missing two field goals in those two games.
Nate Kaeding’s final grade: C+.