January 8, 2011

Jets 17 - Colts 16: The Sailer Legacy in Action

Placekicking coach Chris Sailer's legacy, that is. His pupil Nick Folk connected on a field goal with zero time left for the New York Jets to send them into the second round of the NFL playoffs over Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts.

I mention this because in the past, in discussing how nature and nurture -- selection and training -- often work together (leading to the Matthew Phenomenon of "To those who have, more shall be given"), I've often used the example of the microtradition of outstanding football field goal kickers such as Folk at my old high school, Notre Dame in Sherman Oaks, CA. This goes back to Chris Sailer (no known relation) 16 years ago when he kicked four field goals of at least 50 yards in the playoffs. After making All-American at UCLA, Sailer washed out of the NFL, so he started up a successful placekicking and longsnapping tutoring business. 

This combination of expert coaching, advertising, and channeling has meant that NDHS has routinely had for the last decade field goal kickers who have connected on 50+ yard field goals. That would have been extremely unlikely for any high school a generation ago before all this specialized tutoring and channeling of talent got going.


12th Man said...

My Seahawks beat the Saints, 41-36.
Everybody said we're going to lose (I believe Saints were favored by 10.5 points) and now we won. Damn, freakin, amazing..........

Who dat? Seattle dat!!!!

Matt Hasselbeck had an amazing game, the defense stepped up, we had 8 tackles broken by Marshawn Lynch when he ran for a touchdown, and the receivers played alright.

Coming from USC, there were questions on whether Pete Carrol had the stuff neccessary to succeed in the NFL. With Seattle moving on after taking down New Orleans, I'm thinking the guy knew what he was doing.

What was most funny was that after the Seahawks won, hardly any of the commentators (Tony Dungy, etc.) had anything to say about the game. They bashed NO for sloppy defense, but almost no praise for Seattle.

Seriously, where's the love?

Anyway, the 12th man is out in force.

Anonymous said...

Todays kickers and punters are as physically conditioned as any other athlete on the team. They are as big as linebackers were a generation or two ago. That accounts for the improvement in that area, as well as specialized coaching.

Fred said...

"Coming from USC, there were questions on whether Pete Carrol had the stuff neccessary to succeed in the NFL."

Why? He was an NFL coach before he went to USC.

Anonymous said...

But more importantly, the Jets were helped from possibly the most over-matched coach in the history of the NFL- Jim Caldwell's timeout was bizarre as was his explanation. AA rears its ugly head in the NFL.

Anonymous said...

Yes, specialized training is important in sports but in a static game like football such training leads quickly to predictability. Everyone on the football field has now trained for years on the exact equipment and settings that they experience in a game. This kills much of the suspense. When so and so lines up for a field goal he is just repeating and action that he has practiced thousands of time before. He knows that 89% of the time he will score from this particular range. The guys in the booth know too and they tell the world. It's an industrial process and about as interesting as working on an assembly line.

Compare this moment in football to a moment in Ninja Warrior. The contestant has trained for years also but not on this piece of equipment because they just installed it this morning. No one knows how to best use it. No one knows if a new challenge is even possible. Instead of going through a series of well understood and well practiced steps, the Ninja contestant must improvise.

Football is a nineteenth century game with nineteenth century limitations. Ninja Warrior is a glimpse into the future. It's on TV, it has a lot of crowd involvement, it has a lot of "up close and personal" with the athletes, and its rules shift continuously.


Stuff Black People Don't Like said...

Speaking of the colts, why did their (black) coach call timeout on the jets game winning drive?

Whiskey said...

Carrol's stint with the Patriots and before that the Jets was not particularly successful. So a lot of folks doubted Carrol's ability to win in the NFL since he didn't in two previous tries.

Seattle gets bounced as soon as it ventures beyond home field. The bad weather, and 12th man had a huge outcome on the play. Plus the Saints just were not that good this year.

The Jets will have to tread carefully, their next opponent is unlikely to put their foot in their mouths, or get off on the wrong foot.

C. Van Carter said...

Folk's younger brother kicks for the University of Washington.

DCThrowback said...

I hate to pile on, but Jim Caldwell's decision making w/ < 1 minute left in the tilt made Folk's historics possible.

First off, a strategic squib kick would've limited Cromartie's ability to return the ball. Second, as anon mentioned, calling timeout with 30 seconds left was ridiculous. Even though Nick Folk has the leg to make a 50 yd FG, it's still no better than a 50/50 prop for him. Allowing the completion and then the follow on 32 yarder turned it into a 90%+ chance, and Folk did his job.

Thanks again Jim - you have one job to do - and you even managed to screw that up. And let's not forget the epic out coaching last year in the Super Bowl v. the Saints. D'oh.

Anonymous said...


I hear what you're saying about specialization, Steve, but some long kicks go far back.

Marc B said...

My nephew's high school football team had their 6'4", 250 lb defensive end handle their place-kicking and punting duties. He could reliably make 40 yard field goals and occasionally nail a 50 yarder. His kickoffs consistently were in or past the end zone and he was also an awesome punter, sending one 85 yards with some help from the wind and a bounce.

Truth said...

"Speaking of the colts, why did their (black) coach call timeout on the jets game winning drive?"

Probably because he needed to ponder why the great Peyton Manning could only put up 17 points in a playoff home game.

Anonymous said...

Whatever his background, Folk was still the second-best placekicker in the stadium yesterday.


Anonymous said...

Seattle beat the Bears earlier this season.

You can say all you want about the Seahawks, but they upset the returning Super Bowl champs. Really, I think once we got a little bit of confidence, we got rolling.