Jets’ Folk earning trust of once-skeptical coaches
Nick Folk was booming kicks through the uprights with such
consistency, Rex Ryan felt comfortable enough to issue a
”I want to go on record to say I’m officially not worried about
our Pro Bowl kicker anymore,” the New York Jets coach said. ”I
think that Nick is back in form and that is always great to
You couldn’t blame Ryan for his concerns. Folk was wildly
inconsistent throughout offseason workouts, causing many to think
the Jets made a major mistake by letting consistent veteran Jay
Feely walk away as a free agent.
Both Ryan and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff wondered
publicly about Folk, issuing a challenge to him to get better. And
”I struggled,” Folk said, ”and I’ll admit it.”
Folk was a Pro Bowl selection in his rookie year in 2007,
kicking the Dallas Cowboys into the playoffs. He set the team’s
rookie mark with 131 points, and seemed on his way to establishing
himself as one of the league’s top kickers.
He went 20 for 22 the following season, but his third year in
the league appeared, at times, as though it could be his last. Folk
went only 18 for 28 and missed at least one attempt in six straight
games – including a 24-yarder against New Orleans on Dec. 19.
Two days later, Folk was out of a job and wondering what his
future held. He insists he understands that it was a business
decision, and harbors no resentment toward the Cowboys.
”I mean, they were making a playoff run,” he said. ”So they
have to do what they have to do. I had a great run there. It is
what it is. I still have good friends on that team. I wish them
There was a good reason for Folk’s struggles. He hurried himself
back from having a torn labrum in his right hip repaired a few
months before the 2009 season. There was competition in camp after
the Cowboys drafted David Buehler, and Folk didn’t want to lose his
”I felt just really rushed to get back to training camp and to
kick,” Folk said. ”I felt like I had to push to go compete
against him when I come to find out that wasn’t the case at all. I
could’ve kind of taken it back in camp and got into a good rhythm
Instead, Folk got into a funk and kicked his way off the
”You’re the hero,” Folk said, ”or you’re the goat.”
In February, the Jets made a tough decision by not re-signing
Feely, even though he was reliable and a strong presence in the
locker room. Feely is in Arizona now, and Folk realizes he has big
shoes to fill.
”He’s done well in his career wherever he’s been, really,”
Folk said. ”He did great up here, he kicked well in the old
stadium. So it will be a new challenge kicking in the new place.
Obviously, that coupled with my year last year, I mean … But,
I’ve been kicking well and just keep it going and keep a good
Folk said his misses, the few he has had since camp started, are
due to small inconsistencies with his angles on his approach to the
Westhoff has worked closely with Folk since the Jets signed him,
tweaking technical issues and trying to clean those up. The Jets
had their grounds crew measure Folk’s steps, marked them off and
built a huge T-square-shaped contraption to help him kick the same
way every time.
”Now the league probably won’t let us carry it out on the field
and lay it down, but we actually have it to help him every now and
then check himself to make sure it’s always as consistent as
possible,” Westhoff said. ”But we’re trying anything. We’ll do
anything we can.”
Ryan said Folk reminds him a lot of Matt Stover, who was in
Baltimore when Ryan was there as an assistant. Stover would often
struggle in minicamp, missing several kicks, before making
adjustments on his way to becoming one of the most accurate kickers
in NFL history.
”I’m hoping that’s the way Nick is,” Ryan said. ”When you
look at him, it’s like, ‘No problem.’ Just lines up, he’s got that
little earring in and all that jazz, and boom, right down the
With all of New York’s Super Bowl talk, Folk wouldn’t mind going
back to Dallas in February and showing off his leg at Cowboys
Stadium for a shot at kicking the Jets to a championship.
”Oh, that’d be awesome,” Folk said with a big smile. ”I’ll go
back there anytime to play. That would be a great accomplishment
for this team and that’s the goal for the year. So hopefully, we’ll