There have been plenty of highs and lows so far through the first seven weeks of the Jets’ season.
But possibly the least-talked-about positive has been the perfect start from kicker Nick Folk.
“He has been phenomenal,” head coach Rex Ryan said this week. “There are a lot of areas that we can improve in. Kicking is not one of them. The guy has been absolutely phenomenal.”
Just like a season ago, Folk has once again started 11-of-11 on his field goal attempts.
“I’ve had some pretty good starts,” Folk said Friday. “I just have to try and keep it rolling. I feel like I’m hitting the ball really solidly and trying to keep improving every day on the little things.”
The sixth-year pro is coming off a 4-of-4 performance Sunday during the Jets’ 29-26 overtime loss at New England. In that game, he connected on a 54-yarder, which trimmed the Patriots’ lead to 16-10 at the intermission, and later in a 29-second span hit a pair of 43-yarders, one to tie the game at 23-all and the next to give the Jets a three-point lead with 1:37 left in regulation.
“I mean, it felt good, but at the same time you know, we didn’t get the win,” the kicker said. “Like when we beat Indy and I just kicked a bunch of extra points, I’d take that. I just want to win. I think we’ll keep getting better and keep improving every week and we’ll do well this Sunday.”
The Jets will host the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. The teams already met this season back on Sept. 23. Jets All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis went down with a season-ending ACL injury during the third quarter, yet the Green & White still were able to overcome adversity and exit Sun Life Stadium with a 23-20 overtime victory. With 6:04 remaining in the extra session, Folk converted the game-winning 33-yard FG.
“We pulled together when Reve got hurt,” he said. “The team kind of battened down the hatches and played well at the end there. I think we played our best football at the end of that game, so it was a good way to end the game. It kind of stunk we had some guys get hurt, but that’s football and I think guys are rallying around each other right now and doing a good job.”
Folk kept his job as the Jets kicker this season, but it wasn’t easy as he beat out former Rams kicker Josh Brown in a tight competition during training camp. At the time, special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff called the competition between the kickers the best he’d witnessed in his coaching career. Ryan also was amazed.
“I thought those guys really pushed each other,” the fourth-year head coach said, “but when you look at the end result, there is nobody kicking better than Nick because he’s made every kick.”
Over the course of Folk’s career, he is an astonishing 41-of-43 (95.3%) on fourth-quarter field goal attempts, including the playoffs. That percentage is second-best among all NFL kickers in the fourth quarter since 1991 with at least six tries.
“I think most kickers should live for it. I do,” Folk said of kicking in the clutch. “I embrace the pressure. I don’t try to shun it away. I just try to have fun with it and just kind of keep it rolling.”
And while his fourth-quarter numbers surely speak for themselves, Folk said he doesn’t pay attention to the stats.
“I’m just trying to do my job and when it comes down to that time, that’s when they’re most important,” he said. “So I just try to be my best at the end, and you kind of want to be your best at all times, but that’s when it really matters, and I’m trying to keep an even keel at the end of the game, when everything is on the line. Just trying to do well, hit the ball solidly and have a good end.”
No. 2 for the Green & White stated that he’s been pleased with his kicking production not just during games this season but also through practices. He said the primary thing the team is focused on is trying to reach 3-1 in the AFC East and 4-4 overall, heading into their bye week.
It’s obviously uncertain whether Folk will continue his impressive streak as the season progresses, but if he can stay healthy there’s always a chance.
“I think that’s a big thing,” Folk said. “Don’t get tired, make sure you’re watching the amount of kicks you’re doing in practice, keep your leg strong, but don’t get too tired to where you’re overkicking, and mentally stay into it. I think those are the two biggest things. Just stay strong and stay healthy and stay mentally focused for every kick.”
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Josh Brown, Miami Dolphins, Mike Westhoff, New England Patriots, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan
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