Updated, 5:32 p.m. ET
Nick Folk is off to the fourth-best placekicking start in franchise history. (For the three better starts he’s trying to surpass, see below.) He’s striking the ball well out of Mark Brunell’s hold.
Yet Folk is not one to talk up himself. But who would he like to talk up?
“My offensive line, from my perspective, is doing a great job keeping guys out of the way so we have a clean operation,” Folk told me this week. “And it’s not just offensive guys. Bo’s in there, Mike DeVito — those guys are doing a fantastic job for me, and I can’t thank them enough for doing what they do.”
So we should talk up the field goal protect team? Yes, yes, we should. After all, the placekick protectors are among those groups in football that fans really don’t notice. “But you see the block if it happens,” reminded Sione “Bo” Pouha.
Folk said the time from Tanner Purdum’s snap to his foot into the ball is about 1½ seconds. And Pouha, who’s turned around from D-lineman to O-lineman for this chore, says there are a lot of things a human being can do in 1.5 seconds, “but the 1.5 seconds of kick protection is like an eternity because it’s all sacrificial. You kind of have to give your life for that 1.5 seconds.”
The procedure to prepare for those series of 1.5 seconds of mayhem actually begins the Wednesday before the game when the FG Protect/FG Block teams hold their short meeting with ST coordinator Mike Westhoff and assistant coach Ben Kotwica to go over video, printouts and a game plan just for their small slice of the pie.
If you think that’s overkill, just be thankful each time the Jets line picks up an overload without incident. Keep in mind that the Wednesday meeting before the Sept. 11 season opener against Dallas may have prepared Folk’s protectors so that he could get off his game-winning 50-yard field goal with 27 seconds to play.
“You can take the meetings lightly and not pay attention,” said Moore, “but Mike went over the point that this particular team likes to jump over you at the line. I think they kind of got us a little on our first kick on the right side. So we made an adjustment and got our hands up to keep them from doing it. That was mentioned in the meeting. That was something you’ve got to be in tune with. You’re in that meeting 15-20 minutes and there are some nuggets in there that guys have take and take care of on Sunday.”
Then on Sunday, the process on the field is triggered each time with Purdum’s snap.
“If I’m not mistaken, we got a snap off in 1.19 seconds,” Purdum said. “It actually takes me less time to snap it to Mark than it does for Nick’s kick to occur. I can snap it as fast as you want but the point is to get the laces to Mark just so. The consistency of speed is the real important thing.”
As soon as Tanner makes his move, the opponents cry havoc.
“Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore, they hold me up once I get hit. I kind of go into their legs and just try to get as low as possible,” Purdum said. “It’s just the blink of an eye and I’m either on the ground or pushing against somebody else. It’s less than a breath, it really is.”
“My experience with Bo and Slauson are they’re some good guys to have on your side,” said Matt Mulligan, another member of the unit. “I just enjoy the group of guys we have. They’re just good teammates to have for this job.”
“You gotta hold ‘em,” Pouha said, describing the mentality of surviving the brief period of controlled chaos. “I don’t care if I get pancaked, as long as I disrupt the flow of the rush. If I’m on my back and Nick makes that kick, there you go.”
One placement, Folk reminded in case we forgot, can mean a game.
“They have to be on top of their game with every extra point, every field goal attempt,” said the man with the hot foot. “Every little ounce of effort counts in this game.”
As for Folk’s start, he’s hit his first seven field goal attempts this regular season and takes that streak into New England on Sunday with a chance to catch the players with the three longer streaks in franchise history ahead of him. Pat Leahy hit his first 10 tries in 1986, Jay Feely also converted his first 10 in 2009, and Cary Blanchard made his first nine tries in 1992.
The Jets announced late this afternoon announced that they have signed LB Eddie Jones from their practice squad to their 53-man active roster and have placed LB Bryan Thomas (Achilles) on injured reserve.
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Brandon Moore, FG protect, Mark Brunell, Matt Mulligan, Matt Slauson, New England Patriots, Nick Folk, Sione Pouha, Tanner Purdum
Posted in Randy Lange | 21 Comments »