New York Jets – Breaking Down The Kicker Battle

Clayton Smarslok breaks down the New York Jets kicker battle

Over the past several years, the special teams unit for the Jets have not been good, abysmal in fact. As poor as it’s been, on return coverage, kick/punt returning, punting, etc., there haven’t been too many issues with how the kickers have performed. Whether it was Jay Feely, Nick Folk, Chandler Catanzaro or even the few games of Randy Bullock, the Jets have been around league average for the most part. However, after letting Catanzaro walk in free agency, it looks like there could be a long year ahead for the kicking unit.

The Jets initially signed Cairo Santos to be the replacement, only for him to never practice with the team. They then claimed Jason Myers last week off waivers to join the battle, which ultimately led to Santos getting released before ever suiting up in green and white.

Myers is coming over after a very short stint in Seattle, but spent his first two and a half years in Jacksonville. In 2017 he was released after 6 games when he only had a 73.3% field goal percentage. The Jaguars were definitely justified to release him with that poor of a rate, but the other big reason for his release was his career 86.4% on extra points. A PAT may not be the gimme it was before but there is no reason a professional kicker can’t make a 32 yard attempt at least 90% of the time, and even that is below average. Seeing that his field goal percentage has drastically dropped every year (7.3% from 2015-2016, 6.1% from 2016-2017), this very well could be his last chance to prove he’s made some changes. Some may think the numbers are skewed because he actually is a 90% kicker from within 50 but being 53% from 50+ and 81% overall just is not going to cut it if you want a job year in and year out.

For now, the opponent standing in the other corner is Taylor Bertolet. Bertolet was an undrafted free agent in 2016, just like someone else we know.. But more on that later. The third year kicker initially signed with the Rams in 2016 and then the Broncos in 2017, but has yet to ever attempt a field goal in a game that actually matters, giving Myers the obvious advantage in experience.

In his lone summer with the Jets thus far, there have been some good moments and others that have you shaking your head. He’s hit six of his seven field goals/extra points and has had practices when he is nailing everything and then other days where he really struggles inside 40. Take this last preseason game for instance where he missed his only attempt on an extra point. The seven attempts is far too little of a sample size to know whether or not you could feel comfortable with him so they’re going to have to bank a lot on the kicks they’ve seen in practice, but those don’t have the same feel as the ones in game.

If the Jets are strictly choosing one or the other, the possible deciding factor could be the ability each has on kickoffs. If that is the case, then the advantage seems to be leaning in Myers favor since he consistently gets more hangtime than Bertolet. With the new kickoff rules this year, hangtime might mean more than ever before.

With all of this being said, I would say that Jason Myers is the choice as of now but neither option is particularly a great choice. They have brought in Kai Forbath for a visit that seemingly went bad, Blair Walsh is available but in all honesty should stay available, but one familiar name is out there that should have been brought in sooner, Ross Martin. He made it a close battle last year but Catanzaro’s kickoffs was ultimately what won him the job. Nevertheless, no matter who the opening day kicker is, whether it’s Myers, Bertolet, Forbath or someone on another roster, it’s looking like it’ll be a tough year for the Jets’ entire special teams…. again.