Chandler Catanzaro is an interesting "Cat" added by the Jets to their 2017 kicking competition with Ross Martin. Arizona fans were unhappy with Catanzaro's third season in the desert, which led to him becoming available, but it would be a mistake to write him off as one (offseason)-and-done with the Green & White. Here are seven facts about the currently short-haired young kicker from Greenville, SC, by way of Clemson and the Cardinals:
1. By Any Other NameAs Jets fans no doubt have become aware, Catanzaro goes by the nickname of Catman and his Instagram address is @thecatman39. However, back when he was a Cards rookie in 2014, wearing his hair a little longer and making his first visit to the "Black Hole," some Raiders fan lovingly tossed out a new, shorter-lived sobriquet: "Dirty Hippie." Unfazed, Catanzaro nailed a 41-yard field goal with 29 seconds left to secure Arizona's 24-13 road win.
2. Making His MarkThat kick at Oak-town in his sixth game as a pro was Chandler's 15th in a row from the start of his career, tying the NFL record set by St. Louis' Greg Zuerlein in 2012. He broke the record the next week vs. the Eagles with a 28-yarder and extended it to 17 straight two weeks later at home against Zuerlein's Rams before his first miss (from 53 yards) later that game. That start launched Catanzaro to 89% accuracy (57 of 64 FGs) In his first two NFL seasons.
3. Dermatology DelayedCatanzaro showed outstanding footwork at Clemson, yet after his senior season, he had the twin intentions of preparing for an NFL opportunity while starting to follow in the footsteps of his father, Joseph, a dermatologist in Greenville. Chandler had begun medical school interviews and was studying for the MCAT when HC Bruce Arians (plus then-DC Todd Bowles) and the Cards' scouts came calling after the '14 draft. Said mom Tonya, "He can always go to med school when he's 50."
4. Sputtery BatteryRabid 'Zona fans were no doubt interested in skinning this Cat and sending him to med school during last season, when he missed seven field goals (21-for-28, 75%) and four extra points (43-for-47, 91.5%).
We didn't see any alibis from Catanzaro during our research, but we'll offer one here: He had no stability in his "drive train." The Cards used two long snappers (Kameron Canaday, Aaron Brewer) and three holders (Drew Butler, ex-Jet Ryan Quigley, Matt Wile) and wound up with four different LS/H combinations during the season.
5. Plenty of LegDespite his struggles, Catanzaro did have his moments in '16. He atoned for his 24-yard left-upright doink that cost the Cards an overtime win over the Seahawks in Game 7 (the game wound up a 6-6 tie) with the walk-off 43-yarder at Seattle for a 34-31 win.
And Chandler nailed a 60-yard kick at Buffalo in Game 3, joining the select club of 14 kickers who have hit the 16 kicks of 60-plus yards in NFL history. Further, Catman tagged a 59-yarder in the preseason vs. Denver and a 56-yarder at Miami in December — he was the only kicker last year with three 56-plus FGs in all games (preseason, RS, playoffs).
The Clemson Product Joins the Green & White After Three Years with Arizona
6. Kickers' Small CircleThis is nothing more than coincidence, but we like it anyway. Jay Feely left the Jets for Arizona as a free agent in 2010. He held the Cards' kicking job until Catanzaro beat him out in the '14 preseason. Now Cat will try to replace another well-liked veteran Jets K, Nick Folk, released earlier this month. Folk came to the Jets after two strong seasons and an off third year with Dallas. Catanzaro comes to the Jets after two strong years and an off third year with Arizona.
7. Confident CatWe know Catanzaro comes east with plenty of confidence. As a Clemson walk-on freshman, he told Tigers coach Dabo Swinney, "Listen, if you just give me a shot, I'm going to break records." And he did. Then when he broke the heart of the Seahawks' 12th man this season, he went near the midfield logo and "mean-mugged" the home team's sideline, causing a little postgame commotion. Observed Cards WR J.J. Nelson, "Cat got that swagger."