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The team went from lethargic underachiever to a popular Super Bowl pick, in a matter of weeks. Led by a great defense and solid running game, the Jets marched to the AFC Championship Game. Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum showed fans that there was even more to add to the AFC runner-ups. Big ticket, big name acquisition ran rampant throughout the off-season.
But the NFL off-season is coming to a slow end, as OTA’s and mini-camp begin. The Jets now have a pretty clear picture of what the team is going to look like. A lot of depth at most positions, some new players will be filling some new roles, etc. One move was lost in the array of the Jets turbulent off-season acquisitions: the loss of veteran kicker Jay Feely, after a contract dispute.
I’ll start by saying that Feely is not an irreplaceable player. Feely ranked 17th in the NFL with his 83 percent field goal percentage. But the Jets seemed to push the Feely loss aside. The Jets picked up Cowboy castoff Nick Folk, who was as erratic as they came for Dallas, especially as the season went on. Folk was second to last in field goal percentage, with a dismal 64 percent. Another thing to keep in mind, Feely kicked mostly in the swirling winds of Giants Stadium. Folk? Well, he was in a dome for most of his misses.
Going into camp, the kicking job is Nick Folk’s to lose. He seems to be doing in everything in his power to do just that. After not signing a legitimate threat to Folk, Head Coach Rex Ryan had this to say yesterday, following Folk’s 2-5 performance from kicks 33-to-49 yards away, "That was ugly. It's a little bit concerning. Like I told those guys, I'm not the sharpest guy, but if the first nine kicks all went right of the upright, I think you might want to adjust a little bit. I might have to miss left before I miss another one to the right. I think Nick made a few but I don't think the other kid made any.”
Coming from a positive “player’s coach” like Ryan, this has to be very concerning for Jets fans. In order for the Jets, or any team to be successful, they have to win close games, and especially games decided by three points or less.
If Folk can’t get the job done now, what confidence does he and the staff have when it’s 20 degrees and snowing? The Jets play their last five games either at home, or at a cold-weather stadium.
After all the money and time spent into the Jets’ off-season for Mike Tannenbaum, wouldn’t it really be something to have the season come down to the (reported) 370K, and extra year that Jay Feely wanted? Do Tannenbaum and the front office have a little more magic, and money, to bring in, perhaps Shayne Graham, or even wait out the kicking battle between Kris Brown and Neil Rackers that’s brewing in Houston?
The Jets have to set Folk, and his kicks, straight, find a veteran, or reap the consequences.