We just knew that the way Nick Folk is built, not a whole lot would change this year with his offseason preparation for the upcoming season. Nevertheless, life threw a few wind-blown field goal kicks at Nick this time around.
For one, the Jets franchise-tagged him and then everyone agreed, shortly after the start of the new league year, on a multiyear deal for Folk.
"I felt I had a pretty solid year. Looking back, it was something to build off of," Folk told me recently, as usual downplaying his own contributions in what by all outside accounts was a career year for the low-key guy from the Hollywood hills. "It was a good deal for both sides. We both felt comfortable with it. Now we can kind of relax and get ready to come back in five weeks or so."
Then there was the small matter of his annual travel plans to work with former kicker John Carney back in his home state of California. This year he and his wife, Julianne, had to sight-adjust, due to the additions of two little kickers to the family, twins Davis and Gage.
Daddy said if we ate our veggies and drank our milk we will be big and strong and could one day play… http://t.co/JamBcm1hR3 — Nick Folk (@nickfolk2) March 11, 2014
"Yeah, this year's a little different because of the kids," Nick said. "They were born Aug. 7, in the middle of training camp last year. It was an eventful season and now it'll be fun being able to be home and be a dad for a little bit and going back to work with John and see my family."
There could be one more big little change ahead for Nick, a professional change, and that is the NFL's extra point rules. You no doubt heard that the league's Competition Committee is getting ready to present its proposals on different rule and bylaw changes at the annual March meeting next week, and among them what to do, if anything, about lowly, unexciting extra points, of which 99.6% were converted by the league's kickers last season.
Folk's got a big stake in this deal, since he is the NFL's all-time record holder for most PATs without a miss — 27 more last year make him 269-for-269, plus another 10-for-10 in the playoffs.
"It's been such a part of the game for such a long time," said Folk thoughtfully. "The way I look at it, everything in the NFL is becoming so specialized. Now a long-snapper is only a long-snapper, not a backup tight end or a third center or a defensive lineman. We're becoming so proficient at it, making it run like a well-oiled machine."
Nick Folk also argues that any extra-point changes would trickle down from the pros all the way to peewees, which means a whole lot of young kickers may lose opportunities to practice their craft, since extra points could become automatic or could be tried from so far out that youth teams may end up going for two points much more than they do now.
And if the NFL is going to tinker with PATs, how about fixing those even more unexciting victory-formation kneeldowns while they're at it?
"I don't think I've talked to a kicker who wants to eliminate the extra point or move it back," he said.
Yet in the face of possible change, Folk has come up with his own proposals. Leave the NFL goalposts the way they are, with the uprights 18'6" apart, but then install Arena League posts in between the other uprights that are 9' apart.
"Extra points have to go through the little ones," he said, "and field goals will still be three points but field goals that go between the little ones are four points. Then make field goals from 50 yards or longer four points and five points if they go through the little uprights."
That's cray-cray talk, Nick, but in any event, Rams coach Jeff Fisher, a member of the Competition Committee, said the proposal to the owners this year only would be to take one week of preseason games and move all those extra-point snaps back from the 2-yard line to the 20 "and see how it goes." Any permanent rule change is likely to take a few years to implement.
In the meantime, Nick Folk will be doing his kicking for the Jets.
"I had a lot of fun playing with the guys that we had," Folk said of the supporting cast that enabled him to make a career-best 33-for-36 of his field goal tries last season. "Sure, those guys are going to change, but hopefully we can keep a good group together and keep building off of what we ended the year with. We finished strong, we were competitive in a lot of games. The ball just didn't bounce our way a couple of times, but hopefully we can right that ship, get 11 or 12 wins, and we'll be in good shape."
Now that's a proposal we have no problem getting behind.
Here are the top extra-point percentage leaders in NFL history (minimum 200 extra points made):