Nick Folk: Stay or Go? Part 3: Kickoffs

The worst aspect of Nick Folk's game is kickoffs. When he was with the Cowboys, the team had to add a kickoff specialist. Things did not improve much with the Jets. With Folk handling kickoff duty this season, Gang Green had the third worst average distance on kickoffs in the NFL. The 7 touchbacks were tied for eighth lowest. That number is deceptive, though, because 5 of the 7 touchbacks on the season came in the thin air of Denver.

This stat can be deceptive. Sometimes short kickoffs come by design as was the case with a number of the kicks the Jets aimed away from Devin Hester against the Bears. The Jets allowed the third lowest average kickoff return in the league. There are times where Mike Westhoff has a play called that calls for a kick to go in certain spots by design because he feels he has a play that can pin the opposition. (He's said so in interviews.)

Despite these caveats, however, I think it is pretty clear Folk's leg is a problem on kickoffs. The low touchback number is a giveaway. So were the kicks late in the year where he was consistently struggling to get the ball past the 10 yard line. There were times he was barely scraping the 20.

I think kickoffs can be a tad overrated. I would take an accurate field goal kicker over a good kickoff guy any day. Field goals directly affect the score. The effect on kickoffs is less pronounced since field position only makes scores more or less likely. Particularly on a team like the Jets with a strong coverage unit and defense, the kickoff guy is less important. It is still something to consider.

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