Jerry Glanville was right about Not For Long. The NFL has become increasingly impatient with its placekickers, with many teams jettisoning veteran legmen for hotshot college kickers, and hotshot college kickers should they stumble a few times early in their young pro careers for other hotshots young and old.
The latter is what happened to Randy Bullock — and why the Jets may have been extremely fortunate to bring in the fourth-year free agent to replace the IR-ed Nick Folk as their placekicker for the second half of the season.
Bullock missed his rookie season with Houston in 2012 due to a preseason groin pull. Then he had a good first season with the Texans, a strong sophomore campaign in 2014, and a 2015 preseason without a placement miscue.
But after three regular-season games, with two missed extra points from the league's new 33-yard distance and a missed 44-yard field goal, he got his walking papers.
Yet Bullock, good enough to be selected in the fifth round by the Houston draft team that at that time included future Jets GM Mike Maccagnan, knew he wasn't done kicking.
"I watched some of the games last Sunday," he told me at his locker after his first practice with the Jets on Tuesday. "It didn't feel like anybody had struggled or anything like that. But I like to try to work out and keep a normal gameday routine on Sundays and kick a little bit because most workouts are on Tuesdays."
However, because the Jets are playing tonight, not Sunday, and they determined Monday that Folk would have to go on injured reserve, they needed to work out kickers at the facility a day earlier than usual.
The Jets Practiced in the Elements on Tuesday Afternoon to Prepare for Potential Thursday Night Rain
"I was practicing when the Jets called," Bullock said. "They tried to get me out on a flight, but there weren't any flights out of Houston that quickly, so I took an early-morning flight, landed, drove over here, worked out, kind of went through the physical process and all that.
"I felt I kicked really well. I felt like I had stood out compared to the other guys here, so I was very pleased with that. But as far as decision-making goes, that's kind of out of your hands. Really all you can do is perform and see what they decide to do."
Bullock got the job. He'll be the guy in the new Kelly green Thursday Night Football uniform wearing No. 8 and trying to beat the Bills with some timely, accurate field goals and extra points.
Folk was philosophical and upbeat about his situation. While warming up Sunday, he pulled the top of his right quad muscle near his hip flexor — "one of the more important muscles for a kicker," he said. The 4-to-8-week prognosis for his return, he said, was based more on the pull being "an unknown" for when he could begin kicking at a high level again.
"It's tough, but at the same time I'll just kind of get ready for next year," said Folk, the Jets' kicker since 2010. "Hopefully I get it right as quick as possible for myself and then start kicking probably in the middle of February and get ready for next season."
In the meantime, he'll remain with the Jets rehabbing and cheering his teammates in the second half of the season. And that includes "turning over the keys" to Bullock, a young man he's worked with before.
"I won't say I've coached him, but I've been to camps where I've kind of helped out and coached him a little bit here and there," said Folk, who kicked for the Cowboys when Bullock was at Texas A&M. "He's a good, young kicker, so hopefully he'll hit 'em straight and hit 'em far and we'll make a run still.
"And I'll try to mentor him a little bit, keep him ready for the nice, cold, windy games we're about to have."