Jets Have Major Kicking Problem, Ranking Top Backup Plan

Mike Nugent Jets

Getty New York Jets kicker Mike Nugent nailed another long field goal attempt.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the New York Jets have a major kicking problem heading into 2021.

During the final OTA practice ahead of mandatory minicamp, the kickers didn’t represent the team well.

According to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, Gang Green’s pair of kickers went “3-for-7” during the kicking gauntlet drill.

Not great, Bob.

Evaluating the Current Situation

The Jets currently have two kickers on the roster.

Sam Ficken is the veteran of the group having spent the last two years on the team. During that span, he’s made 32-of-42 which translates to a 76 percent conversion rate. Last season that would’ve ranked 27th in the league.

To say he’s been underwhelming would be a massive understatement.

The other kicker is the new kid on the block from SMU. Chris Naggar was a priority add during undrafted free agency. He only really has one true year of kicking experience after serving as a punter during his time at Texas.

“The competition is good right now,” Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said to the media. “We all as coaches and players have things we can improve. There’s so much to be told from here to training camp.”

Top Replacement Options That Are Available

The Ficken experience has been an utter failure. Naggar is still young, but he’s been uninspiring thus far.

Coaches always say they love competition, so it’s time to put their money where their mouth is.

With so much unknown at kicker, it’s time to bring in some known commodities that could either win the job outright or push the current crop to another level with a fire under their tuchus.

Stephen Gostkowski

One of the better kickers of this generation and someone Jets fans should be intimately familiar with from his 14 years in New England.

While his overall numbers look terrible from 2020 with the Tennessee Titans (18-of-28 for a 69 percent conversion rate the worst mark of his career), the second half of the season’s numbers were impressive.

The veteran placekicker hit 90 percent of his field-goal attempts and was perfect on extra points during the second half of 2021.

Another reason to feel good is he went 7-of-8 from beyond 50 yards which shows he still has that amazing leg strength.

Zane Gonzalez

The 26-year old kicker is coming off a tough year in 2020 with the Arizona Cardinals. Zane Gonzalez struggled only converting 8-of-13 attempts. It’s worth noting the youngster dealt with a back injury last year that forced him to miss a quarter of the season.

Although he’s still super young and has a chip on his shoulder to prove the Cardinals made a mistake moving on from him this offseason.

Mike Nugent

Talk about a blast from the past! Mike Nugent was originally drafted by the Jets back in the second round (47th overall) in the 2005 NFL draft.

Speaking of the Cardinals, the former Ohio State placekicker replaced Gonzalez last season after he got injured. In spot duty, the long-time NFL veteran converted 87.5 percent of his kicks.

While Nugent isn’t the young spry guy he was when Gang Green drafted him 16 years ago, the 39-year old has aged like a fine wine.

The veteran has played for eight different NFL franchises during his 16-year career, but there would be something poetic about returning to the team that originally gave him his first shot out of college.

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