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LC, Nuge Are Green & White History

Two more ex-Jets are outta here. Both arrived in 2005, one for the first time, one for the second. Each took a different route to unrestricted free agency. Neither was expected to return in '09.

Warrior WR Laveranues Coles signed a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals this afternoon. Earlier in the day, diligent K Mike Nugent agreed on a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Coles, who reached a compromise with the Jets to restructure his contract that unguaranteed guaranteed money and enabled him to seek out a team with which he could play out the rest of his career and retire. He obviously found it in the Bengals.

LC is a tough one to say "see ya" to. The 2008 season was certainly not his best — I had him unofficially for a career-high eight dropped passes — and there were games where he seemed to be a non-factor — one catch in the opener at Miami, one vs. St. Louis, two for 2 yards vs. Denver, one for 5 the next week at San Fran.

But Coles' 70 catches for 850 yards were not chump change. He continued to inspire with his toughness and with some long early yards-after-catch plays. His seven touchdown grabs equaled his career high from 2001, in his first Green & White go-round. He had the game-winning 15-yard grab from Brett Favre with one minute to play to beat the Chiefs in Game 7, and his three touchdown grabs against Super Bowl team-to-be Arizona tied a franchise record for most TDs scored in a quarter (home team in CAPS):

 Year Player Final Score TDs    Qtr   
 1968 RB Billy Joe JETS 48, Boston 14 3 rush 4th
 1985 TE Mickey Shuler JETS 62, Tampa Bay 28 3 rec. 2nd
 2008 WR Laveranues Coles JETS 56, Arizona 35 3 rec. 2nd

No question Coles could be prickly, but when he returned from his two-year stay in Washington, he was also less defensive and more of a big-picture guy for reporters than he ever used to be. And he opened up to me in May 2007 about his perhaps future career as a movie reviewer, revealing that he had over 2,000 movie DVDs at home. His favorite flick of all time?

"I'd have to choose 'Gladiator'," he said. "That movie's something I always compare my life to and everything I'm going through. There's a guy who went from a general leading the Roman army to becoming a slave, and still from that position he pretty much became just as powerful as a king. That basically says you don't have to have the title of 'the man' for you to be 'the man.' "

Coles a fan of Gladiator? It figures.

Nugent's Biggest Hits

Nugent was in a different boat. Hurting his knee when he slipped on a kickoff on the skin infield at Dolphin Stadium in the opener, he spent the next 15 games on the inactive list as Jay Feely took over the kicking chores. Feely is also a UFA as of this moment.

"Nuge" had been the Jets' placekicker from the time he was drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft until that injury. He was a decent fellow and a diligent worker and I'll miss him as well.

I know many fans were not krazy about his kicks. I think he kicked better than he was given credit for, especially because he worked hard at his craft and got better each season, but if you've got a different opinion, that's cool, too. He was good but he wasn't perfect.

For instance, one thing that drove Jets faithful crazy were his season openers. His first FG try as a pro was a low kick off of a slip of his plant leg at Arrowhead Stadium that Eric Hicks rejected for the Chiefs. The next year he missed two field goals and a PAT at the Titans' LP Field. He had no tries in '07 vs. the Patriots, then came this past season when he missed from 32 yards at Miami.

His field goal mark on opening day: 1-for-5. And his FG numbers from 50-plus: 3-for-9.

But Nugent did hit some big kicks. His 54-yarder against the Texans in 2006 was 1 yard shy of the Jets' record long kicks of 55 yards, first by Pat Leahy, also at the Meadowlands in 1985, and John Hall, on his first kick as a pro at Seattle's Kingdome in the 1997 opener.

Nuge also hit three game-winning field goals and was 6-for-7 on tries to tie the score or put the Jets ahead in the final two minutes of regulation and in overtime. And he's tied for the unofficial franchise record for most consecutive field goals made in regular- and postseason games combined. In fact, he and Pat Leahy dominate the top of the list::

 Kicker Span    RS      PO   Streak
 Pat Leahy 1985-86 22 0 22
 Mike Nugent 2006-07 19 3 22
 Pat Leahy 1990 17 0 17
 Mike Nugent 2007 15 0 15

One off-season interlude with Nugent sticks out for me, and that's his session with a film crew that, coincidentally also in May 2007, taped his every trick shot for one of the striking series of commercials for " Fantasy File."  You can see the YouTube clip here.

"I don't do too many trick shots at all," Nuge deadpanned in between takes. "The basic thing is just practicing what you are going to do on the field, doing the same things in practice as you would do in a game."

From the comments that appear after Nugent's video plus others by Neil Rackers, Mason Crosby, Jason Campbell, Laurence Maroney, et al., there are a lot of people who think the impossible was being done routinely for these fantasy commercials. But for those people I have three words and a crooked punctuation mark:

Aren't. Computers. Great?

I wish Coles and Nugent the best in the next phase of their careers. Green & White followers could get to see how both are doing, since the Jets will play both the Bengals and the Bucs in 2009.

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