NY Jets hope Greg Zuerlein can finally break their kicker curse
The NY Jets officially settled their kicker battle on Tuesday, releasing the incumbent Eddy Pineiro in favor of former All-Pro Greg Zuerlein. Now, the hope is that Zuerlein can help buck a trend that has troubled the Jets franchise for far too long.
When Zuerlein takes the field next month, he will become the Jets' seventh Week 1 kicker in as many years. Seven years have passed and the Jets have had a different player kicking field goals at the beginning of each season.
That's hard to do. Some would say it's curse-like.
In 2016, the Jets still had Nick Folk. 2017 was headlined by veteran Chandler Catanzaro. 2018 was the famed Pro Bowl season by Jason Myers.
That was, of course, followed up by the disaster of a 2019 season led by the infamous Kaare Vedvik in Week 1. 2020 wasn't much better with Sam Ficken and 2021 with Matt Ammendola didn't move the needle either.
Now, going into 2022, it's Zuerlein's time to show that he can be more of a permanent solution.
Can Greg Zuerlein solve the NY Jets' kicking woes?
Zuerlein is probably the most accomplished kicker the Jets have had during this timeframe. The 10-year NFL veteran is a former All-Pro and was one of the league's best kickers not too long ago.
Unfortunately, inconsistency has plagued his last few seasons and he isn't the same player he was with the Los Angeles Rams back in 2017 when he was named first-team All-Pro after making 38-of-40 field-goal attempts.
Field goals haven't been the biggest issue for him either over the last few seasons. Instead, he's struggled a bit with extra points. Zuerlein has missed nine extra points over the last two seasons and 13 total field goals.
While Zuerlein's consistency has diminished, his incredible leg strength has not. The 34-year-old has made a kick from at least 54 yards in every year of his career and nailed one from at least 56 yards in all but two of his 10 seasons.
Just two years ago, Zuerlein connected on a ridiculous 59-yard attempt with the Dallas Cowboys. That raw power is why he earned the nicknames "Greg the Leg" and "Legatron" while with the Rams.
That leg hasn't gone anywhere either. Zuerlein can be one of the NFL's best kickers again, he just needs to rediscover his consistency. Oftentimes, it's just a mental block that players need to get over.
Will Greg Zuerlein be the person to break the Jets' kicking curse? He certainly has more promise than some of the recent kickers to come through Florham Park. Only time will tell if he can live up to that promise and reignite his stalled career.