After years of futility, Greg Zuerlein has finally brought some stability to the New York Jets’ kicker position
For years, the New York Jets’ kicker position was one of the weakest points of the roster. Poor kicking cost the Jets multiple games across the past half-decade.
The Jets allowed Jason Myers to walk in free agency following his Pro Bowl season in 2018. After that, the Jets rotated through seven kickers over the next four seasons: Sam Ficken, Matt Ammendola, Eddy Pineiro, Sergio Castillo, Alex Kessman, Chase McLaughlin, and Kaare Vedvik. Combined, the group made just 75.8% of its field goals and 87.9% of its extra points.
But the Jets may have finally found the kicking stability they’ve been looking for.
In March 2022, the Jets signed 11th-year veteran kicker Greg Zuerlein. Before he even took the field, he was the most proven kicker the Jets have had on their roster in a while.
Before signing with the Jets, Zuerlein had a career field goal percentage of 82.2% while showing excellent leg strength, making 38 field goals of 50+ yards (third-most since 2012). He had also displayed consistency on extra points (95.8%) and kickoffs, owning a career touchback rate of 68.2%.
Zuerlein kept true to these numbers in his first season with the Jets. In 2022, Zuerlein went 30-of-37 on field goals (81.1%). He also went 28-of-29 on extra points (96.6%) and recorded a career-high touchback rate of 83.9%.
Zuerlein’s ability to make long-distance kicks is what stood out the most. He made 6-of-11 attempts from 50+ yards, including a franchise-record 60-yard attempt and two makes from 57 yards.
In addition to his leg strength, Zuerlein showed consistency on the shorter kicks. From under 50 yards away, Zuerlein made 24-of-26 attempts (92.3%).
Heading into 2023, the Jets re-signed Zuerlein to a one-year, $2.6 million deal, solidifying him as their kicker for the upcoming season. The hope is that Zuerlein, who is 35 years old, can replicate the consistency he showed last season.
Up to this point of the preseason and training camp, Zuerlein, also known as “Greg the Leg”, has lived up to his nickname and career track record.
The Jets’ kicker has been highly consistent throughout the early portion of camp, rarely missing any kicks under 40 yards and hitting a good chunk of his kicks of 40-plus yards.
More importantly, Zuerlein was perfect in his first action of the season. In the Jets’ preseason opener, Zuerlein went 3-for-3 on field goals and 1-for-1 on extra points. Zuerlein’s field goals came from 54, 44, and 53 yards, showing off his leg strength and overall accuracy.
It is crucial for the Jets that Zuerlein continues his reliable production. If the veteran kicker can build upon his 2022 season and his performance this offseason, the Jets’ kicker position will be a strength of the team and help push them to more victories in close games.