Over the course of the past 28 years, the New England Patriots developed into one of the NFL’s premiere, model franchises.
At front and center, we already know about the stability of the head coach and quarterback for most of it.
However, one position has held stability for far longer and for almost the majority of Robert Kraft’s 28 years of team ownership.
For 26 of the last 28 years, the Patriots have primarily had only three starting kickers, Adam Vinatieri, Stephen Gostkowski, and Nick Folk.
The story of Folk continuing this run of Patriots kicker success was unlikely and almost didn’t even happen.
Let’s flashback to October 2019 when Stephen Gostkowski landed on season-ending injured reserve with a hip injury. Although not expected then, the injury ultimately spelled the end of his career in New England.
Folk made his first appearance in Foxboro after the Patriots moved on from Gostkowski’s first replacement, Mike Nugent. An appendectomy later sidelined Folk, but he resigned to finish the 2019 season in New England.
Heading into 2020, Folk resigned with the Patriots and worked his way to becoming the team’s starting kicker for the remainder of that season.
Despite the tough odds against him, Folk held onto the Patriots’ starting job despite competition from younger draft picks like Justin Rohrwasser and Quinn Nordin.
In the games and seasons that followed, Folk experienced a renaissance after starting 16 games in a season just once from 2015-2019 and even playing a stint in the now-defunct Alliance of American Football.
Folk’s 2020 season saw him set a career-high with a 92.9% field goal percentage. In 2021, he had a career-high 36 field goals that led to a league-leading 150 points scored, also a career-best.
Since his first start with the Patriots, Folk has made 91 of his 101 field goal attempts (90.1%) and 102 for 110 (92.7%) on extra points. He has earned three AFC Special Teams Player of The Week honors.
Through eight games this season, Folk’s impact has felt greater on an offense that has struggled to generate points.
On two separate occasions, Folk has tied his career high in field goals this season with five each and has developed a “Mr. Reliable” reputation along the way.
It’s a reputation that fully developed out of his record for the most consecutive field goals made from inside the 50-yard line.
From the season opener in 2020 through the week six win over the Browns this year, Folk connected on 64 straight kicks from inside 50.
Folk also owns the Patriots’ record for most made field goals from any distance. He surpassed Gostkowski’s mark of 31 with his 32nd straight last season.
“Nick is so consistent,” Head Coach Bill Belichick said after the Lions win. “You kind of start to take it for granted, and then you realize how difficult it was. Today it was not an easy day to kick. The wind gusted, and it was blowing straight across the field really from our bench to their bench. When you kick straight into it, you can’t kick it as far, but it goes straight. If you kick with it, it goes further, and it pushes the ball. The crosswind, especially when it gusts, is tough. Nick makes it look so easy. Honestly, it’s kind of what it’s like in practice. We’ve got some wind out there, some crazy wind, and the ball goes in between the uprights all the time. Yeah, I mean, I can’t say enough about Nick Folk. He is so professional, so consistent, so dependable. When you stop and think about how hard that job is over the amount of time we’re talking about, it’s really, really impressive.”
Teammate and fellow special teamer Matthew Slater also raved about Folk’s worth ethic since joining the Patriots.
“He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve been around. Just his approach, his consistency, and the routine that he has. He just keeps his head down and goes about his business and I think as a teammate you certainly appreciate that knowing you’re going to have a guy whos prepared, whos ready for the moment and who executes with the consistency that he does.”
Folk’s consistency could be seen on display once again during Sunday’s win over the Jets during this second five-for-five day of the season.
“I just try to do my part. I had a great operation with Jake (Bailey) and Joe. The line blocked well. I just, like I say all the time, we get to put a cherry on top and put it through the uprights. So, just happy to have a good day”, Folk said after the game.
The Patriots may have undergone many other changes in recent years, but at least at kicker, the beat goes from the foot of Nick Folk.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 31, 2022
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Adam Vinatieri Bill Belichick Justin Rohrwasser Nick Folk Quinn Nordin Stephen Gostkowski