As the New York Jets found a few ways to lose in their Week 1 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, kicker Nick Folk wasn’t a hero by any stretch of the imagination.
The mood around the New York Jets could be very different right now. Instead of preparing for doom as the team heads up to Buffalo on a short turnaround, the Jets would be talking about jumping on the other teams in the division. Possibly even being competitors in the AFC playoff race and establishing themselves as the real deal. Thanks to kicker Nick Folk‘s faulty foot, the Jets are looking at a near must-win situation, since the schedule will not do them any favors from here on out.
MetLife Stadium was raucous in the first quarter as the Jets put together a picturesque opening drive, running 10 plays across 78 yards of field, to an easy score. After a cornerback Marcus Williams interception, the Jets were in prime position to go up two scores and give themselves a cushion against the Cincinnati Bengals. Phil Simms called the Jets and the Bengals “two of the top 10 teams in the league” during the pregame commentary, and the Jets were sure looking the part.
All seemed to be going to script. While they were not able to punch the ball into the end zone after the turnover, the Jets’ kicker, our “Folk Hero”, was going to at least make this a two-score contest. The Bengals would’ve been looking to air it out and the Jets’ swarming defense would have taken notice.
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Then Nick Folk didn’t do what he was supposed to do.
This wasn’t a 55-yard field goal on a blustery November afternoon.
This was a chip shot on a beautiful September Sunday, with a late-summer breeze.
The kick came off Folk’s foot low, giving the tall special teams front of the Bengals an easy chance to make a play, which they did.
Suddenly the air was starting to leave the building.
Folk is a hero for the Jets. He definitely could be in the conversation as the best kicker in team history, but not too many would feel bad if he wasn’t the kicker tomorrow.
To compound matters for Folk, after the Jets’ offense atoned for his 22-yard sin, Folk went out and missed an extra point, an absolutely inexcusable act. Mistakes like that – especially when your team loses by that same margin – make you persona non grata.
When you play in a division against the dominating New England Patriots and a Bills team that has your number, every game matters that much more.
In training camp, the Jets brought in another kicker, despite the fact that Folk had entrenched himself as the Jets’ kicker for the foreseeable future. Bringing in another player to do your job may have had an adverse effect on Folk. It could have also lit a fire under him. It appears that the former happened.
Kickers make the attempts Folk missed 95 percent of the time. In fact, in 313 career extra point attempts, Folk had never missed before today. Even Folk’s 45-yard attempt appeared to be going right before just sneaking inside the upright. Ross Martin, that kicker the Jets had in camp, blasted a 55-yard field goal in a preseason game. He was ranked as the number one kicker out of high school in 2012, and has a boot, as shown in this video:
Folk’s time in New York shouldn’t be up, but maybe he needs a push during the week. If the Jets can have four quarterbacks, why can’t they have two kickers? While there were many contributing factors to why the Jets lost, the bottom line is that the game was in their control. If a player did what they are supposed to be able to do in their sleep, then the Jets would have won.
Covering Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green isn’t something anyone can do in their sleep. Kicking field goals and extra points within 30 yards are supposed to accomplished with eyes closed, asleep, backwards, whatever. There is no excuse for Folk’s actions. Hopefully, they won’t make him a villain of 2016.