The Giants spent the offseason restructuring their front office, rebuilding their coaching staff, overhauling their offense and redesigning their defense. Based on last season, all of those elements were in need of immediate updating.
But one area that was just as disappointing in 2017 has remained the same.
Aldrick Rosas is the team's kicker. Still.
He returns after a shaky rookie campaign looking to prove that even though he’s back, the position has been upgraded just as much as any other area.
“It wasn’t the best year that I could have hoped for,” Rosas said at training camp this weekend. “I learned a lot and it was a tremendous learning experience and a learning curve. I’m still learning. But in Year Two there is definitely a higher level of comfort and I feel like I’m more well rounded. Now it’s just time to go out there on the field and produce.”
Rosas made 18 of 25 field-goal attempts, with several misses coming in crucial moments early in the season when the Giants had an opportunity to change their course, and missed 3 of 23 extra-point attempts. His field-goal percentage (72.0) ranked 28th among those with at least 20 attempts and his extra-point percentage (87.0) was 33rd among those with 10 or more attempts.
“I wouldn’t say it rocked my confidence,” he said. “I don’t know what word I would use to describe the feeling amongst the whole team and the whole organization. It definitely wasn’t a happy feeling. But there is a lot of stuff we learned from last year. Just build on that. Now I know what to expect if stuff happens like that. You know what to expect to keep your head on straight. I feel better.”
The confidence that the team has shown Rosas has helped heal any mental bruises that built up in 2017. They easily could have parted ways with Rosas after last season, or even brought in a veteran to compete with him the way Mike Nugent did last summer. Instead, they kept Rosas and added first-year kicker Marshall Koehn for training camp.
That’s not to say it’ll be Rosas’ job when the season opens. There is still a long way to go until then, and while Pat Shurmur said he’s been pleased with Rosas’ work in camp, there are a few hurdles to be cleared.
“You’ve got to see it happen in game situations,” Shurmur said. “Most often, the kickers that you have in camp make them during the practice sessions. You’ve just got to see it happen [in preseason games]. It’s really not that much more complicated than that.”
Rosas was perfect in preseason last summer, which won him the job. Once the season began, inconsistencies and insecurities began to creep in.
“For the position I’m in, it’s all a mental game mostly,” he said. “I’m more than capable to go out there and do my job, so it’s everything between the ears. Stay together and trust your teammates, trust your coaches, trust your organization, and know that they’re behind you to go out and do your job.”
It helps, Rosas said, to have a surprisingly familiar face working with him. The Giants brought back former special-teams coordinator Tom Quinn over the summer as an assistant to new coordinator Thomas McGaughey.
“I was excited when I heard Quinn was going to be back,” Rosas said. “We kind of get a little rebound to prove that we can do this together.”
Plenty of NFL kickers overcame disappointing rookie seasons, learned from them, and had fine careers. The Giants know that, which is why they have not given up on their young, powerful-legged project. Rosas knows that, too, and wants to be the next to be able to make such a claim.
“I embrace any adversity, within here, from the outside, from the media, from the fans,” he said. “Just go out there and keep learning, embrace it, embrace the spotlight, and know that when I step on the field that the ball will go through the uprights or do whatever I need it to do.”