It was not the start Jets fans wanted for rookie K Mike Nugent. After making all of his field goal attempts in the preseason, Nugent slipped and fell on his first attempt in Kansas City in the regular season opener. That would be a preview of how the Jets season went as the team struggled throughout the 2005 season.
Nugent did though finish the season making 22 of his 28 field goal attempts and was a perfect 24-for-24 on extra points. When Nugent was drafted with the Jets first pick in the second round of the NFL Draft out of Ohio State, Nugent had the tough task of making Jets fans forget about Doug Brien, who missed two field goals in the last 2:02 of regulation of the Jets loss to Pittsburgh in the 2004 AFC Divisional Playoff game.
Playing in front of big crowds and dealing with the spotlight was nothing new to Nugent who starred at Ohio State.
The one thing Nugent will have to work on is kickoffs as he struggled with it during the 2005 season.
While there has been many shake-ups with the Jets coaching staff with the hire of new head coach Eric Mangini, one coach who is remaining is special teams coach Mike Westhoff.
“I think he’s going to be a good kicker,” said Westhoff. “There will though be some things we want to do in the off-season. Of course, he was the guy coming out of college. There was no doubt in my mind or anybody that I talked to. I know five, at least five other teams that were going to draft him in the same round, had they been able to do it…let him get a little bigger, a little bit stronger, that should help his kickoffs. And there’s a couple technique things that I’m going to do and some things that I’ll do with him in the off-season.”
Jets Insider.com’s Justin Paley recently spoke with Nugent.
JI: How would you assess your 2005 season?
NUGENT: I think I got more solid at the end. I can always improve my strength on kickoffs and field goals, things like that.”
JI: Was the season frustrating in that you didn’t get many opportunities in the beginning of the year because of this offense?
NUGENT: “Not too frustrating. I just have to do my job when asked.”
JI: What has been the biggest transition to the pro game?
NUGENT: "There are changes in the K Ball and a smaller tee. Also it’s a lot smaller on the kickoffs. Everything else is pretty much the same. The holder and snapper are the same like in college.”
JI: What goals did you have for yourself and did you accomplish them?
NUGENT: "My number one goal was if I could have 85 percent on field goals and do my best on placements on kickoffs. I haven’t accomplished them yet.”
JI: What has been your best experience this year?
NUGENT: "Just the camaraderie. We all get along really well. And to meet everyone’s families, things like that.”
JI: Has it been tough being in the New York spotlight?
NUGENT: “It hasn’t been too hard of an adjustment. It was good because I went to Ohio State and we were on TV a lot and played in front of a lot of people so I got to experience the pressure.”
JI: What has it been like to experience such a down year?
NUGENT: “It’s obviously not the season we expected. But we’ve been able to handle the adversity and we’ve been thrown a lot of adversity. I think everyone will be motivated this off-season.”
**Be sure to check back to Jets Insider.com for Part II of this exclusive chat with Mike Nugent.