“Man, school’s really hard,” he recalls thinking. “You know what? Playing football for a living would be really sweet.”
And with that epiphany, he knew what he wanted to do in his life.
He certainly racked up plenty of game experience in working toward his new goal. He's currently the all-time ACC leader in number of career punts, though he would have happily given up a few of those punts for a handful of more wins with the Eagles.
Not the strongest-legged punter in the league (“I’m a mid-40s guy”), he wasn’t brought in to outdo Robert Malone’s 84-yard Week 1 punt. The Jets simply want Quigley to be consistent.
“As a field goal kicker, you don’t want to miss any kicks,” he said, “I like to think of it the same way as a punter. I have a small window where I need to put the ball and have to avoid any big mistakes because if you make the slightest mistake in this league, that guy can take it to the house.”
Quigley’s motto: aim small, miss small.
After his NFL debut against Buffalo last week, it’s safe to say that he’s 1-for-1 so far in the consistency. On seven punts, he had an average of 42.0 yards per punt with a long of 44 and a 41.4 net average with an unofficial average hang time of 4.5 seconds. Two of his kicks ended up inside the 20 and none of them went into the end zone for a touchback.
“My goal is to directionally punt the ball and get it where it needs to be,” he said, “and just hang it up to make it as easy as possible for our coverage guys to get down there. For the first game, we won and we didn’t have too many issues with the punt team. We did what we needed to do.”
From here on out, the 23-year-old first-year punter will hope to continue aiming small and missing small with consistency.
“I think as we move on, my confidence and comfort level will increase,” he said. “As soon as the last game was over, I was already like, ‘OK, I can’t wait for Tennessee.’ I got the jitters out, and I’m ready to go for the next one. We’re going to have a great game punting. I’m excited.”
With a chance for thunderstorms around the opening kickoff gameday in Nashville, rain could hinder the great game that he’s predicting, but Quigley doesn’t believe the weather will have an impact on his performance.
“We do wet-ball drills all the time,” he said. “I went to college in Boston, I was in Chicago last year, and I’m here now, so I’ve always had to prepare for bad weather. If that happens, we’ll be ready.”
Perhaps a few more A’s here and a couple of more B’s there in his business classes and Ryan would never have fully committed to becoming an NFL player. Now that he’s made it, though, his new goal is to stick around for a while, and to do that, consistency will be the key.
“ 'Can we live with your worst ball?' I’ve heard that from every NFL coach I’ve ever talked to,” he said.
In his debut, Quigley’s punts were returned for a total of 4 yards. His shortest punt was 40 yards, and had it been any longer, it would have been a touchback, as it was downed by
So yeah, it’s pretty safe to say the Jets can live with that.
*Special Teams Saturday