Jets’ Myers kicked way through ‘long road’ into record books
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Jason Myers kept jogging onto the field to kick one field goal after another.
Once, twice, six times.
By the time he went out to boot his seventh last Sunday, the New York Jets kicker wasn’t sure how many he had against Denver.
Myers just knew there were lots of them.
“Someone goes, ‘Man, how many was that?’” a smiling Myers recalled Friday. “I started counting and I lost count.”
Totally understandable, of course. That’ll happen when you make a franchise-record seven field goals, the second-most in NFL history. Myers was one shy of the eight by Tennessee’s Rob Bironas in 2007. His 24 total points — seven field goals and three extra points — were just two short of Bironas’ mark for the most in league history by a player who didn’t score a touchdown.
“It’s fun to get all that work in,” Myers said. “I didn’t even know where they were from until after the game. But, yeah, it was fun.”
Myers got things started with a 30-yarder in the first quarter. He had a 48-yarder in the second and closed the opening half with a 32-yard kick.
His 37-yarder in the third quarter gave him four.
Then came the fourth quarter, when he made field goals of 45, 37 and 45 yards to help lift the Jets to a 42-34 victory. The Jets’ offense ranks last in the NFL in red-zone efficiency and scored just one touchdown in six opportunities against the Colts, but Myers was there to give them a boost with his busy leg.
Myers was also selected the AFC’s special teams player of the week for his performance.
“That was really out of the ordinary,” long snapper Thomas Hennessy said. “I think in the fourth quarter, we had three or something, so I definitely knew that we were approaching an amount that is not normal.”
Myers’ path to the Jets’ record books has also been unusual, with plenty of twists and turns.
Just two months ago, he didn’t know if he’d have a job in the NFL after being cut by Seattle. Today, he leads NFL kickers with 63 points and 16 field goals, and is tied with Kansas City’s Harrison Butker for the most touchbacks with 32.
“I think the progression of Jason’s career is just awesome and it’s an awesome testament that the guy stuck through it all like that,” Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said. “To see success happen for him, I think it’s really cool because he’s such a great kid and he’s a hard worker. Just seeing him come in and have success, I was proud as hell of him.”
The 27-year-old San Diego native grew up playing football, soccer and baseball at Mater Dei Catholic High School, but his success as a kicker had him focused on the gridiron for college. The offers weren’t flooding his mailbox, though.
“I was a late bloomer,” he said with a shrug.
He considered going to junior college before Marist College — on the other side of the country, tucked in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York — came calling.
So, Myers traded the sun of southern California for the chilly northeast.
“I came out for an official visit and I loved the campus, loved everything,” said Myers, who kicked four seasons for the Red Foxes.
The NFL was still a long way off, though, especially after going undrafted and unsigned in 2013. Myers went to the Arena Football League the following year and had stints with Arizona and San Jose.
“I was there just for a hot second,” Myers said. “It was good. It helped me keep kicking.”
His big NFL break came in March 2015, when Jacksonville signed him to a free-agent deal. Five months later, the Jaguars traded Josh Scobee to Pittsburgh — making Myers their kicker.
He led the league with 12 field-goal attempts of more than 50 yards, and for the most made with seven. His 80 percent touchback rate made him a reliable asset to Jacksonville’s special teams unit.
But that all changed when he missed three long field goals in Week 6 last season against the Rams. He was released and had a few workouts with teams, but remained unemployed until Seattle signed him a few days after the regular season ended.
He lost a camp competition in Seattle to Sebastian Janikowski and was again without an NFL gig for a few days until the Jets claimed him off waivers.
Myers hopped on a red-eye flight to New Jersey, got off the plane, headed to the Jets’ facility and immediately linked up with Hennessy and punter Lachlan Edwards on the practice field. Myers proceeded to boot 20 consecutive field goals.
“And he hit one from like 63 (yards) or something,” Hennessy recalled. “His focus was amazing, especially since there was so much going on at that point. It was impressive.”
Two days after his first practice with the Jets, Myers was kicking for them in the team’s third preseason game — on his way to securing the job with New York.
“If I would’ve sat back and thought about how fast everything moved that week, I think I probably would’ve not been able to do as well as I did,” he said. “I just kind of kept rolling and took it day by day.”
And one kick at time. All the way to a spot in Jets history.
“I’ve definitely taken the long road,” he said. “It was a little tougher, but it kind of helps me be who I am — mentally tough — and I don’t take all that stuff the wrong way. It just kind of helps build my character, who I am. I kind of use it as a positive and keep building off it.”