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Fearlessly, Feely Approaches the ‘Stick

Posted by Randy Lange on December 6, 2008 – 11:56 am

If you ever wondered where Jay Feely’s coming from, it helps to know where he’s going to this weekend.

Candlestick Park.

"I’m not a numbers guy. You’ll have to look it up. I don’t remember missing and kicks there," the kicker said when asked how he’s fared in that venerable ballpark by the bay, where the Jets will play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. "But I know my first game of my career was at Candlestick."

True enough. When Atlanta visited the Niners on opening day in 2001, Feely was the Falcons’ rookie kicker. He took me on a trip down memory lane to that game, which explains a lot about his frame of mind as he has put together an 11-game streak as the Jets’ kicker despite the presence of Mike Nugent on the active roster.

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"I know I made a couple of kicks, we went into overtime and I didn’t get a field goal in overtime," he recalled. "You think back to those beginning days and there was so much hope and yet uncertainty at the same time.

"Then you move forward a number of years and now you have a lot of confidence, and that confidence is rooted in the fact that you’ve been there before. You’ve failed and not allowed that failure to break you, and that fuels more confidence.

"I think when you go through really tough times and you’re able to bounce back, that gives you a lot of confidence — and a lot of fearlessness."

I suggested to Feely that more than a few Jets fans must think he’s felt some of that old insecurity ever since coming to the Jets after Nugent injured his right thigh in the opener at Miami. He didn’t see it that way.

"It didn’t apply to me, though," he said. "There was uncertainty in my circumstances, but there was never uncertainty for me in my ability to perform.

"I was talking to Reggie the other day about that," he said of Reggie Hodges, the Jets’ punter and holder. "That’s one of the advantages of being a veteran. When all the world says ‘Ohhh, he missed a kick,’ you’re like ‘Ahhh, I’ve been through a lot worse situations than this.’ "

His Jets launch was "definitely different." After getting cut by two teams this summer — the Chiefs signed him, then released him the next day — he said he had to reverse the usual process, building relationships with new teammates (not to mention a new fan base) only after he performed, not after a long off-season and preseason of work.

Feely missed four of his first 14 field goal tries as a Jet, but head coach Eric Mangini and special teams coaches Mike Westhoff and Kevin O’Dea stayed with him. Lately he’s caught fire, hitting his last 11 kicks. That includes his franchise-record-tying long of 55 yards vs. St Louis and the 34-yard gamewinner at New England.

I cant tell you Feely will be kicking in the sometimes windy, sometimes slick conditions on Candlestick Point. In fact, he has never missed a placement here, having hit three FGs and seven PATs in three games.

But Nugent was not listed on the week’s injury report for the first time since he got hurt, and Mangini declines to declare a kicker until 90 minutes before each game, by when he must declare his inactive players.

Yet it will be no surprise if it’s Feely. As he said about the ‘Stick but could just as well have remarked about his situation this season:

"It’s easier said than done, but you can’t allow the factors to change your technique. You have to account for them and make adjustments but not change your technique. That’s the key."

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Posted in Randy Lange | 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “Fearlessly, Feely Approaches the ‘Stick”

  1. By scjoe on Dec 6, 2008 | Reply

    Feely has been ok the past few weeks and I hate to beat a dead horse, but can someone please tell me why we are still carrying two PKs? There are two or three guys on the practice squad that I think can help down the stretch more then that second PK.

  2. By NJ Superbowl on Dec 6, 2008 | Reply

    Feely will be the kicker until he misses two big kicks

  3. By Drew on Dec 6, 2008 | Reply

    I think Mangini is just keeping the kickers on edge. He has pulled this stunt with Feely and Nug for 4 weeks now. He is not gaining any advantage keeping this a secret. Everyone knows Feely will kick until he proves he doesnt keep the job. All kickers make me nervous so it really dosent matter to me but Feely has made a ton of big kicks, is hot now and has a bigger leg.. so why change this at all?

  4. By Jay Guthy on Dec 6, 2008 | Reply

    Mangini is keeping two kickers because he is not ready to let Nugent go – too much talent and long-term ability and Jets did burn a 2nd round pick on him. But Feely has the momentum and confidence so Mangini will go with Feely down the stretch unless he starts to faulter. Then you’ll see Nugent–if not, next year.

  5. By MikeMc on Dec 6, 2008 | Reply

    Drew I feel Nugent is our kicker period! Mangini is clearly protecting him, you can’t bring him back when Feely has been so good so far because if Nugent struggles the criticism could destroy his confidence. So Feely will kick until he has a bad day & then Nugent will return with little opposition & little pressure. I think keeping 2 kickers is huge for us, we have had our problems in the past.

  6. By jak, 18 wk jet fan on Dec 6, 2008 | Reply

    the new england kick ,as we all know was big, the ideal field goal kicker can perform under pressure ,has a range of at least 50yds,and an 88 pecent or more of field goals made. feelys 21 of 25 ,for a 84 percent ratio .PRETTY GOOD. and 2 for 2 over 50 yds.with familiarity with his holder growing, this may be a pretty good overall year for jay feely.

  7. By Mike Jet Vet on Dec 7, 2008 | Reply

    Say again Feely is the better kicker plain & simple … Job is his nuge will have his chance again next season maybe

  8. By Frank on Dec 7, 2008 | Reply

    This is real simple Nugent has been avarage at best since we wasted a 2nd round draft pick on him. Feely is clearly a better kicker with a stronger leg. Nugent can only dream of hitting form 50 yards let alone a 55 yarder keeping the 2 the rest of the season is a great move and if Tangini knows what they are doing I look for Nugent to be released during the offseason.

  9. By Drew on Dec 7, 2008 | Reply

    I believe Nugent is in the last year of his contract so unless he is somwhow renewed he has kicked his last kick as a Jet. I agree that Feely has been a much better kicker so far. I understand what Mangini is doing though. Kickers are fragile….he keeps saying its a game time decesion just to keep them both mentally sharp. You knows maybe he will need Nugent in an emergency game down the road.

  10. By Josh on Dec 7, 2008 | Reply

    Anyone else have a problem with the fact that we released a probowl kick returner/CB who already has a TD with Oakland, but we’ve got an average at best injured kicker taking up a roster spot?

  11. By Drew on Dec 7, 2008 | Reply

    I have zero problem with it Josh. Miller was a waste of a CB. We have Leon who does just as good of a job on kickoffs and he handles PR which Miller never could. Plus Miller was in the last year of his contract so he would have been gone anyway. By the way he is the 5th CB on the Oakland roster….I have a ton of issues with Mangini’s roster but Miller being off it is not one of them

  12. By BigEd on Dec 7, 2008 | Reply

    I have to disagree with you guys. Nugent is the better kicker. Feely is not your classic hit from 50+ guy. Nugent isn’t either. BUT…Mike has the better career percentage inside 50. He’s younger and he’s only gonna get better. I can understand and agree with Mangini that you have to go with the kicker that’s hot. But once he gets cold Nugent will be back.

  13. By freightweigh on Dec 8, 2008 | Reply

    I agree with scjoe… release a kicker and bring up someone from the practice squad for help down the stretch. Maybe pull Cummings up to help on the defense. We need help stopping people.

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