Nick Folk says in his plainspoken way that he's a more mature kicker now than he was four or five years ago, and of course you believe him.
And yet he looked pretty darned mature and deliberate back on Jan. 8, 2011, when he stepped up to the ball and tucked it inside the right upright to silence the Lucas Oil Stadium crowd and send the Jets on to the AFC Divisional Round with his game-winning walkoff 32-yard field goal.
"Yeah, anytime you have a good memory anywhere that you can kind of fall back and rely on, it's always a positive," Folk told me this week as he prepared for his first business trip back to Indy since that game when the Jets and the Colts play on Monday night.
"Things have changed. I've matured, I've evolved as a kicker. Most guys kind of do that each year, they kind of evolve a little bit and pick what they need to work on. I think I'm a better kicker now than I was then, so I just try to stick with what I'm doing now."
Considering his clutch field goals, his long-range success, and his never-miss extra points, one wonders what more he could work on. Folk mentioned his kickoffs.
"I thought 2013 I kicked off pretty well. Last year was up and down for me. I kicked off some games really well and some I didn't. So I just want to make sure I'm a little more consistent in that area."
Somehow, even that doesn't seem to be a problem for the former Cowboy who went to college in Arizona and was born in the shadow of the Hollywood sign in Southern California. Against Cleveland, not much went wrong with his kickoffs. Five of six went deep or through the MetLife Stadium end zone for touchbacks. The one that didn't was taken by Shaun Draughn 9 yards deep and returned only to the 18.
"Those touchbacks won't come as easily come November, December and January," he counseled. "I just try to put our team in the best possible situation, especially our defense. If they start at the 20 or inside the 20 every time, they're going to be pretty excited about it."
Folk would have every right to jump for joy and let out a whoop, kind of like he did after that game-winner from yesteryear. He would never say it but he appears to be at the peak of his powers, which means that very few of his kicks go awry in the first half of the season. We've thrown it out there once or twice, not to jinx the ninth-year pro but to marvel at his first-month consistency: He's now 35-for-36 in field goal tries in the month of September as a Jet, with the only miss a blocked 61-yard try at Miami in 2010.
But part of maturity is not trash-talking when things are going well and not moping around when things are going south, not dwelling on the past and keeping the team forefront in one's thoughts moving forward. And that's exactly how Folk is approaching this return to Indianapolis.
"They'll try to get a loud, crazy home opener for the Colts," he said. "It'll be good to get in there and hopefully we can put a good 60 minutes of football together and come out with the win."
LISTEN: **Jets Audibles**