Brant Boyer didn't need any outside references for the job he's done the past six seasons as the Jets' special teams coordinator. But he got some rave reviews from his newest addition, the unrestricted free agent kicker from St. Louis, Los Angeles and most recently Dallas.
"I'm very excited, happy to be here and happy to be a part of this," Greg Zuerlein told newyorkjets.com's Caroline Hendershot in a recent interview. "The coaching staff they have here and Coach Boyer specifically, I talked to him before making my decision and he's really the reason I said, you know what, I want to play for this guy."
Zuerlein also has great respect for his new head coach, Robert Saleh, whose 49ers team he kicked against twice a year as a member of the Rams and once more with the Cowboys from 2017-20.
"He's a very good coach. I've played against him for many years, so he's gotten the better of the Rams when I was up there. I just respect him a lot and everything he's been able to do. ... If you don't have culture, you're not going to be successful. Coach Saleh coming here, I don't know what the culture was before so I can't speak to that, but what he's building, I want to be a part of that."
One aspect of culture building is a cloak of modesty hiding all the hard work going on beneath the surface, which Zuerlein has. For instance, he's given as good as he's gotten when going up against the Niners when Saleh was their defensive coordinator. In five games, the Rams won three and he converted all 20 of his extra points and eight of his nine field goals.
Needless to say, that proves nothing for how Zuerlein will fare on Saleh's Jets, but he comes to town not braggadocious about his "Greg the Leg" reputation or about how he kicked lights-out against Saleh's former teams but humble.
And that includes the offseason and summer battle with returning K Eddy Piñeiro that he has to win to be able to kick for Saleh and Boyer and Jets fans in the fall.
"I know Eddy. He's a great guy," Zuerlein said. "With specialists, I think it's a little bit different competing-wise. Whether there's a guy in the facility kicking right next to you or not, there's hundreds of guys out there that want your job. So if you're not bringing it every day and making your kicks, they're going to get rid of you anyway. Just because there's a guy right there, I don't think it really matters.
"You're always competing against yourself anyway. It's always friendly, but you know each of you are doing your best to win the job."
And Zuerlein, who clearly wants the job, is about to put some of his career guidelines to work to get that done. He didn't list them but here are three that we've pulled out of his recent conversation:
■ During practices, "Make each kick important instead of just kicking to kick. That's what I've learned."
■ In tough kicking environments, which Dallas can be and no doubt as MetLife can be the Z-man, "It's really about internalizing your focus and then making every opportunity that you can. That's all you really can do. You can't worry about outside forces."
■ And his advice for his best season of kickoff touchbacks with the Cowboys last year, which sounds like it also applies to a lot of things in life: "Usually when you kick the ball hard, good things happen."