The Life Of Brien

By Kevin Newell
Jets Head Writer
November 4th, 2003
Jets kicker Doug Brien gets his potential game winning FG batted in his face on Sunday.
Jets kicker Doug Brien gets his potential game winning FG batted in his face on Sunday.
Doug Brien was off in la-la land with the game on the line Sunday. So says Jets special teams guru Mike Westhoff and head coach Herman Edwards.

As time ticked away in overtime and the Jets field goal unit was readying itself for a game-winning 51-yard kick, and the Giants were lining up to stop it, Brien was off to the side going through his pre-kick routine. Not a care in the world. Oblivious to his surroundings. A what? Being an avid golfer, I am fully aware of a pre-shot routine. What does adjusting your package and hoisting your socks have to do with kicking a football? As we all know, Brien barely got the ball off the ground with one second remaining on the play clock before Will Allen blocked its path, ending any hopes of a miracle Jets comeback.

Westhoff noticed at minicamp in May that Brien’s pre-kick routine was long by kickers standards, so he used a stopwatch to time the thing. Sunday he could have used a sun dial.

According to Brien, no one informed him that time was winding down while he gathered his thoughts – or whatever the heck he was doing – several yards from where holder Dan Stryzinski was kneeling. Huh? Earth to Brien, this is the National Football League. Not Pizza Hut. Perhaps next time Westhoff should put an alarm clock in Brien’s pants to remind his kicker to wake up. Or maybe the Jets can send a limo to bring him onto the field. I’ll even volunteer to drive.

Whatever works.

In a game that saw the Jets commit four turnovers – three by Chad Pennington – and offensive coordinator Paul Hackett’s loss of nerve on the Jets final possession in overtime, one in which Hackett took the ball out of Pennington’s and Santana Moss’ hot hands and decided to run the ball twice, Brien comes away the scapegoat. And rightfully so. He had brain freeze.

Such is the life of a field goal kicker. A position that should be seen, not heard, and shows up on time.

There’s also the case that Edwards should have opted to go on fourth-and-3 or even punt, instead of risking not only a botched field goal, but giving the Giants good field position. The argument against going for the 51-yard field goal is that Brien doesn’t have the strongest of legs, nor has he had any success from midfield, having not kicked a 50-yarder in four seasons. But Westhoff saw enough in pregame warm-ups from Brien, who booted a 57-yarder, to go against the percentages and test fate.

Good call, bad execution.

When the Jets opted not to resign John Hall, they were left without a bonafide NFL kicker. So GM Terry Bradway, that brilliant talent evaluator, decided that Brien was his man.

The same Doug Brien who missed two extra points and a 44-yard field goal for the Minnesota Vikings last season and was soon after shown the door following a heartbreaking 45-39 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Vikings coach Mike Tice was beside himself following that game saying, "You can't miss PATs in this league, and we missed two PATs. And that shouldn't happen to anybody regardless... I am just kind of at a loss for words.”

The same Doug Brien who has kicked for six teams during his 10-year NFL odyssey, three of which played indoors. The same Doug Brien who is the most accurate kicker in New Orleans Saints history, for whatever that’s worth.

The same Doug Brien who said following Sunday’s 31-28 loss that he was in his “zone” and sometimes goes “deaf” with the pressure on, and who never looks at the clock. Sounds a lot like Helen Keller to me.

This is what Brien told the St. Paul Pioneer Press last season during training camp: "I enjoy the pressure. The thing I like about it is people's expectations are high. It raises my level in terms of my performance."

Too bad he can’t tell time. Doug, next time just kick the damn ball!

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