Concerned by Nick Folk’s recent downturn, the New York Jets are checking into available kickers, ESPNNewYork.com has learned. On Tuesday, they're scheduled to work out veteran free agent Kris Brown, according to a league source.
Folk, who played a major role in two of the Jets’ first six wins, has missed five of his last 10 field-goal attempts. In last Thursday night’s win over the Cincinnati Bengals, he was unsuccessful from 44 yards, almost missed an extra point (he got a good bounce off the upright) and came up short on three kickoffs.
The Jets, preparing for next Monday night’s first-place showdown against the New England Patriots, aren't a stand-pat team under GM Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan. If they sense a problem, they will try to fix it.
Brown, 33, was cut Nov. 23 by the San Diego Chargers, for whom he kicked in three games. He made four of five field goals. He has played for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans in a 12-year career, but lost his job in Houston in the preseason to Neil Rackers. Browns is a 77-percent career kicker on field goals.
It’s unclear if the Jets are preparing to replace Folk or simply formulating a contingency plan in the event that he continues to struggle. If they keep Folk, he will be under intense pressure Monday night, knowing that his job is on the line -- as well as possibly the division title.
Ryan admitted Monday that he’s “definitely concerned” by Folk, who suffered a late-season collapse last year with the Dallas Cowboys -- a decline that earned a pink slip.
“When you miss the field goal, that’s one thing,” Ryan said on his weekly spot with Michael Kay on 1050 ESPN Radio. “But when he hit the upright on the extra point, it’s like, ‘Nick, come on, you can kick it left-footed and kick it through there.’
“Sometimes you’re going to have some ups and downs in a year, but that was a concern to me. And his kickoffs. This was a guy who has been booming his kickoffs, but for some reason, he wasn’t.”
The Jets took a chance on Folk, signing him last offseason in anticipation of losing incumbent Jay Feely to free agency. When Feely signed with the Arizona Cardinals, the Jets put their trust in Folk, who responded with a magnificent first half of the season.
He made five field goals in a 29-20 win over the Minnesota Vikings. He kicked a game-tying field goal as time expired, and added the game-winner in overtime, to beat the Detroit Lions. The following week, he missed three field goals in Cleveland, the start of his struggles.
Unlike last season in Dallas, where he attributed his problems to off-season hip surgery, Folk has no known injury issues.