And so, the revolving door at kicker keeps on spinning for the New York Jets.
I tweeted those exact words out on Saturday when Matt Ammendola was released in favor of another unknown, Pittsburgh product Alex Kessman.
Little did I know, I would be writing them again on Monday morning. Kessman missed his first two extra points with the Jets and directly contributed to a three-point swing (forced a failed two-point conversion) and an unwillingness to attempt field goals in Week 13.
To put it mildly, the newcomer’s NFL debut was an unmitigated disaster.
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Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked
NFL general managers don’t get much respite in general but when your roster isn’t performing, you better keep working until it does. Joe Douglas has been searching for an answer at kicker since taking the job and he’s yet to bring in a player that has impressed.
New York Post reporter Brian Costello tweeted out the full list of kickers since 2017 when Kessman officially signed, but now he’ll have to add a revision. Eddy Pineiro will be the ninth Jets kicker following the release of Nick Folk in February of 2017 (by ex-GM Mike Maccagnan).
NFL insider Adam Schefter announced the news on December 6, tweeting: “One day after their kicker missed two extra points, the Jets now are signing veteran kicker Eddy Pineiro to their active roster, per his agent [Drew Rosenhaus].”
Oddly enough, Pineiro is yet another Florida Gators product that Douglas has targeted but he’s bounced around the NFL since 2018 and does have one year of starting experience with the Chicago Bears.
He was originally a top-two prospect in his draft class behind Daniel Carlson, who was selected by the Minnesota Vikings at the time. Pineiro ended up signing with the Las Vegas Raiders as an undrafted free agent and was traded to Chicago after spending his rookie season on the injured reserve.
Ironically, Carlson ended up taking his job with the Raiders while the Florida prospect received an opportunity in the Windy City. The notably accurate college kicker hit 82.1% of his field goals with the Bears (53-yard long) and 93.1% of his extra points in 2019.
Being that Chicago is a famously challenging place to kick, Pineiro’s stats weren’t bad. Unfortunately, a groin injury sidelined him in 2020, leading to his eventual release with an injury settlement.
He landed on the Indianapolis Colts after that but found himself stuck behind top prospect Rodrigo Blankenship. It’s been a long, injury-torn road for Pineiro, perhaps New York is the final destination.
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Questionable Special Teams Play
Not to blame it all on coaching, because none of these recent kickers were exactly superstars, but there is one more common denominator in the failures on special teams — coordinator Brant Boyer.
The coach has been with the franchise for six seasons spanning back to the Todd Bowles regime. He has outlasted two head coaches and one general manager, but I’m starting to wonder why.
Don’t get me wrong, certain aspects of Gang Green’s special teams have been positive. Boyer’s unit has probably been best in the return game over his tenure for example. The kicking and punting have ranked consistently low, however, and based on press conferences it’s sounded like the coordinator has at least had a say in the signings.
Douglas makes the final call, no doubt, but I’ve heard Boyer explain why they recommended candidates like Chris Naggar (remember him?) and Ammendola. The coordinator has also struggled to develop Braden Mann, a highly-touted punter prospect from 2020.
I could see Boyer finally getting the ax in 2022 after a nightmarish first season with Robert Saleh, and you won’t hear any argument from me if he does.
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