Ever since the Eagles traded undrafted running back David Fluellen to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for Cody Parkey, the rookie kicker has caught the attention of fans and coaches alike. In just two short weeks, Parkey was able to unseat the incumbent Alex Henery, a former fourth-round draft pick from the Eagles' horrific 2011 draft class, as well as the undrafted kicker Carey "Murderleg" Spear.
After a strong preseason and a game-winning field goal against his former team, Parkey is starting to look like a diamond in the rough. Sure, he did miss an easy 38-yard field goal during week two, but should that be any cause for concern?
To get an idea, let's take a look at how Parkey has done for his first four games and compare those stats to Alex Henery's first four games in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Just for fun, we'll also throw in the stats from David Akers' first four games of his "rookie" year in 2000. Let's see how Parkey matches up against his two predecessors:
|FG made||FG attempted||FG %||FG Long||Kickoffs||Touchbacks||Touchback %|
|Cody Parkey (2014)||8||9||89%||51||25||16||64%|
|Alex Henery (2013)||8||11||73%||38||22||9||41%|
|Alex Henery (2012)||8||9||89%||48||19||4||21%|
|Alex Henery (2011)||7||10||70%||48||22||11||50%|
|David Akers (2000)||5||5||100%||43||19||1*||5%*|
*Prior to the 2011 NFL kickoff rule change, which moved the kickoff spot from the 30 yard line to the 35
Not bad at all. It's clear that Parkey has had a stronger start to his rookie campaign than Henery has had in any of his three years as an Eagle. Parkey's field goal conversion percentage has been as good or better, and he has also matched Henery's career record for the longest field goal (51).
Where Parkey has really excelled has been in the kickoff game, with 16 touchbacks on the year (tied for fourth among NFL kickoff specialists). This should come as no surprise to those who have followed his college career at Auburn, where he led the nation with 69 touchbacks last season. Even when opposing teams attempt to return the ball, they don't have much success. Parkey's deep kicking ability, coupled with a strong kickoff unit performance thanks to the likes of Chris Maragos, have held opposing returners to an average of 20.1 yards (seventh best in the NFL).
Meanwhile, Alex Henery has caught on with the Lions, who recently released rookie Nate Freese after an abysmal performance in which he made only three of seven attempted field goals. Henery is currently one for two on field goals after his first game with the team. He is no longer handling kickoffs, so it remains to be seen if his field goal accuracy is enough to keep him employed.
So, should Parkey's easy miss in week two be any cause for concern? Probably not. For now, it looks like the Eagles have found a solid upgrade to both their field goal unit and their kickoff unit for pennies on the dollar. If Parkey continues his solid performance for the rest of the season, he just might become a key part of the special teams unit for years to come.