Yesterday, I wrote about Nick Lowery and why I think he was the greatest field goal kicker in NFL history. That post was pretty long — I probably should have broken it into two parts — but I’d welcome any more discussion on the topic here or there.
So today I’ll keep it short and sweet: a reminder on how necessary era adjustments are when discussing field goal kickers. The graph below shows the field goal success rate throughout history. From 1960 to 1964, the average success rate was 50 percent. Over the last five years, the average rate was 85 percent.
Even more remarkable is that kicks are being attempted from farther away now, too. In 1960, the average kick was from 30.9 yards away; the average successful kick was from 26.2 yards out, while the average miss was from 36.0 yards away. Well, in 2016, the average kick was from 37.7 yards away; the average successful kick was from 36.2 yards out — farther than the average miss in 1960! — while the average miss was from 46.2 yards away.
The graph below shows the average length of each field goal attempt, in blue, each field goal made, in orange, and each field goal miss, in gray.