The NY Jets are evidently set to have an open competition for the kicker job.
The NY Jets have found a surprising amount of success with their special-teams unit in recent years, but their kicking game took a massive step back in 2019.
And going into 2020, it appears as though the job will once again be up for grabs in the preseason.
When speaking to reporters on Thursday, special teams coordinator Brant Boyer indicated that there would be a “true competition” for the kicker job this summer between the incumbent Sam Ficken and former Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher.
Ficken served as the Jets’ kicker for the majority of the 2019 season following a string of failures at the position. The Jets entered the season with the returning Chandler Catanzaro expected to re-assume the starting role.
However, after a disastrous summer showing, Catanzaro abruptly retired leaving the Jets without a kicker on the roster. The team tried out the likes of Blair Walsh and Chris Blewitt before ultimately settling on another familiar face in Taylor Bertolet.
Unfortunately, Bertolet underwhelmed as well and the Jets tried to replace him with the recently-released Kaare Vedvik who they claimed off waivers. Vedvik would last just one disastrous Week 1 game in which he missed his only field goal and extra-point attempt.
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The Jets would lose that game by a final score of 17-16.
Finally, Ficken would sign with the Jets and spend the rest of the season as the team’s kicker. But while he did provide some stability to the position, he didn’t exactly play very well.
The 27-year-old connected on just 70 percent of his field goals and missed three of his 26 extra-point attempts making him statistically one of the worst kickers in the NFL.
Surprisingly, however, the Jets opted not to bring in any established competition for him in the offseason. Instead, the only other kicker on the roster is the former Cowboys specialist, Brett Maher.
NY Jets’ kicker Sam Ficken’s competition will come in the form of Brett Maher.
Maher was actually (funnily enough) originally signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent way back in 2013. And after bouncing around in various training camps and multiple stints in the CFL, Maher finally received his first opportunity with the Cowboys in 2018.
And to his credit, he did a pretty good job.
The Nebraska product made 29 of his 36 field goals for a solid 80 percent hit rate. On top of that, he missed just one extra-point attempt all year and actually finished 6-of-7 from kicks of 50 yards or longer.
Unfortunately, 2019 wouldn’t bring the same success as after missing 10 of his 30 field goals through 13 weeks, Maher was released and replaced with veteran Kai Forbath.
From an optimist’s perspective, he did set a new Cowboys record by nailing a 63-yarder in late October and he also managed to make all 36 of his extra-point tries.
Maher actually has more of a proven track record than Ficken does, but it’s always a challenge to overcome the incumbent.
However, expect the Jets to give both players every opportunity to win the kicker job in what is set to be a “true competition.”