Last week, we took an in-depth look at kicker Chris Naggar. However, let’s now move on and review his new competition for the Jets’ kicker job - Matt Ammendola, who recently signed for the team.
The 24-year old is listed at 5’9” and 195 pounds and was undrafted out of Oklahoma State in 2020. He has yet to play in an NFL game.
Ammendola was a walk-on at Oklahoma State and he redshirted his first season in 2015. He took over the kickoff duties in 2016, racking up 41 touchbacks. He also made a 53-yard field goal and missed an extra point on his only two attempts.
The following year, he took over placekicking duties as well, making a career-best 79 percent of his field goals and all 70 of his extra points.
In 2018 and 2019, he was taken off kickoff duties and focused on placekicking, earning an honorable mention all-Big 12 selection in each season as he made 36-of-48 field goals and missed just three extra points.
After going undrafted, Ammendola struggled to earn an NFL contract so spent last year working on his accuracy and leg strength. He spent some time with the Panthers earlier on in the offseason before the Jets decided to bring him in as a replacement for the struggling Sam Ficken.
Now let’s break down Ammendola in more detail, divided into categories:
Ammendola failed to hit the 80 percent benchmark you’d ideally like to see from a kicking prospect in any of his three seasons as the Cowboys placekicker, although he was close twice. He only attempted three kicks from beyond 50 yards though.
He was quite streaky at times, opening up by hitting 12 of his first 13 and then all 12 of his first 12 field goals attempts in consecutive seasons before seeing his percentages drop off. He missed five out of six at one point in 2018, but he bounced back from this to make his last three kicks of the season.
Ammendola was generally excellent on extra points as he made 98 percent in his career, including all 70 in 2017. He never missed more than two in a season.
Ammendola wasn’t tested very often in the clutch because Oklahoma State didn’t have many close games in his career and he only had one game winner, on this kick that beat Texas in overtime.
Even that one didn’t actually win the game as the defense still had to stop the Longhorns to ice the win.
The only time he really choked was when he hooked this extra point with the score tied in the fourth quarter of a rivalry game against Oklahoma.
The Cowboys eventually lost by one as they went for a late two-point conversion to win it and failed, rather than having Ammendola kick to send the game into overtime.
Ammendola made two out of three field goals from over 50 yards and has shown he has the leg to make long kicks.
There is some online footage of him making 70-yarders in practice too, so there’s no question he has a strong leg.
Ammendola hasn’t played much in cold weather conditions so New Jersey is likely to be an adjustment for him. He did impress on this 48-yarder into the wind though.
As noted, Ammendola was taken off kickoff duties for his last two seasons but he seemed to do a reasonable job, with Oklahoma State ranking in the top 20 in the nation for opposing starting field position in one of those years.
His touchback percentage was low - under 40 percent. It’s possible that was by design, though.
Ammendola seems to offer more athletically than Naggar, as he has an impressive physique. He even worked out at his pro day with a 29.5-inch vertical, 103-inch broad jump and 10 bench press reps, all of which can probably be classed as pretty good for a kicker.
Unlike Naggar, he’s made some contributions in kick coverage, with five special teams tackles over the two years when he was kicking off. However, he missed the tackle here, leading to a touchdown.
Ammendola is considered to be coachable, determined to improve, disciplined and hard-working. He was obviously a good student at college, because he was a four-time all-Big 12 academic first teamer.
Unlike Naggar, he has never punted.
For the short term at least, the Jets seem content to rely on Brant Boyer coaching up some unknown quantities with growth potential rather than investing anything significant in a proven commodity at this position.
They may be hoping to catch lightning in a bottle and thinking that the team won’t contend for a year or two so it’s worth giving someone unproven a chance to show what they can do.
Alternatively, there is bound to be a few kicker battles going on around the league and the Jets may be able to pick up one of the losers of these battles if neither Naggar nor Ammendola can establish themselves as someone to be relied upon.