Greg The Leg. Legatron. Young GZ. A few of the nicknames given to Los Angeles Rams kicker, Greg Zuerlein. Perhaps the most suiting and important to the Rams offense, is the nickname, Mr. Automatic. Zuerlein’s impact on the game is becoming more apparent, and here is why.
Zuerlein has made 65 of his 67 kick attempts. This stat becomes more impressive when you break it down. 33 of these attempts were extra point attempts. Of those 33, Zuerlein has made 100 percent. That means 32 of 34 of his field goal attempts, or 94 percent, were good. The longest was a 57 yarder. This type of accuracy has an effect on two aspects of the game, the Rams offense, and the opposing team’s defense.
Quarterback Jared Goff said, “For the most part, once we get inside the 30, the first thing I think about is… I got points.”
If you listen to interviews with Goff, it is apparent that he is a competitor and refuses to settle for three points when he can get six. This quote, however, makes something else apparent. Zuerlein has effectively taken some of the pressure off of the Ram’s offense and second-year quarterback, Goff. When looking at victories like the one the Rams had over the Dallas Cowboys in October, that impact becomes even more apparent. Zuerlein boasted a perfect seven for seven on field goal attempts accounting for 21 of the Rams 35 points.
The Rams offense has not exactly struggled to move the ball this year. Now fourth in the NFL in offensive yardage, the Rams have amassed 4,169 total offensive yards. When a team has little trouble moving the ball, and a kicker who is almost guaranteed to score, it means the offense could turn most of their possessions into points. This is huge considering that the Rams are the second highest scoring offense in the NFL, averaging 29.9 points per game.
Speaking of pressure, this effect puts more of it on opposing defenses as well. With the ability to move the ball and the potential to score when within 50 yards, defenses are playing on a short field. That means, forget keeping the Rams out of the red zone, they need to keep them behind the 50-yard line. This is tough for any NFL defense, but especially tough when facing an offense as productive as the Rams. The Rams currently lead the league in average field goals per drive at .255.
Zuerlein has accounted for 129 points this season and is on pace to break the league’s single-season scoring record. On September 10, 2017, in the season opener against the Indianapolis Colts, Zuerlein converted three field goals. He also hit five extra points in the 46–9 home victory. Zuerlein tied with Raiders kicker Giorgio Tavecchio for the most points scored by a kicker in Week one, with 14. His perfect performance against the Cowboys broke a Jeff Wilkins record for most points in a game by a kicker.
Speaking of records… on Thursday Zuerlein became the first player in NFL history to be named NFC Special Teams Player of the Month in consecutive months.
Greg Zuerlein has a huge impact on the team. The extent of that impact may not be realized by all, but it certainly should be praised by Rams fans everywhere.