RENTON — For an NFL kicker, focus is everything.
Missed your last kick? Doesn’t matter, make the next one. Anticipating life-changing news within the hour? Worry about it later, you’ve got a job to do.
Both scenarios came to pass for Seahawks kicker Jason Myers on Oct. 2 in the team’s 48-45 Week 4 victory over the Detroit Lions. With 7:33 to go in the third quarter, Myers sent a 39-yard field goal wide left, his first miss of the season.
But an even bigger situation went down for Myers that day. Before the game, he knew that his wife, Katie, was close to going into labor. In the locker room afterward, Myers got the news that she had given birth to the couple’s second child, a girl named Hailey.
“I talked to (Katie) before I knew she was going in, and then texted her right before the game, and she said she was moving pretty fast,” Myers said. “So at that point, I knew there was nothing I could do but just hope. It was cool to finish the game and win and then run off, and she had just been born, so it was cool to FaceTime.”
According to Seahawks special-teams coordinator Larry Izzo, you couldn’t tell just from looking at him that Myers was having such a milestone day.
“He’s a pro,” Izzo said. “All of that going on, and you wouldn’t know it, and come in the locker room and find out that he had a baby girl like five minutes prior to the game ending. Yeah, he handled all that well and never wavered.”
Never wavering seems to be Myers’ specialty. Whether he is following up a successful year like 2020, or one filled with struggle and frustration like 2021, Myers’ process stays the same.
Last offseason, Myers was coming off one of the toughest years of his football life. After going a perfect 24 for 24 on field goals in 2020, and starting the 2021 season 2 for 2, Myers had converted 37 consecutive field goal tries, a franchise record and the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.
But as quickly as things go right, they can go wrong, as Myers missed six field goals in 2021, including four from within 44 yards, for a season conversion rate of 73.9%. After watching Myers miss a crucial 39-yard field goal last season against Chicago, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll had no answers as to why his former Pro Bowl kicker had been so inconsistent throughout the season.
“Yeah, I don’t know, man,” Carroll said at the time. “I don’t know why that’s happened a couple of times this season that Jay hasn’t hit his stuff. He is a fantastic athlete and a great competitor and a great worker and all of that. It’s too bad. We should have made — that should have been from the 25-yard line, whatever that was, that field goal. He still should make those. He makes them in his freaking sleep.”
For some kickers, it might’ve seemed like a perfect time to make some changes but not for Myers.
He did what he does every offseason. He went back to San Diego and worked with former NFL kicker Nick Novak, put in plenty of time in the weight room with his personal trainer, reviewed his performance from the previous season, and talked with his longtime sports psychologist, Fayyadh Yusuf.
Myers has talked with the Tampa, Florida-based Yusuf after every game since his rookie year in 2015.
“A lot of times, we’re just kind of going over certain things that I felt on Sunday, certain things that I’m working on in the field technically speaking or how my body’s feeling, and then just kind of come up with a little game plan together,” Myers said. “It’s all pretty much very similar, I’d say maybe tweak things here or there for how I’m feeling, but for the most part, it’s somebody that knows my thought, my process, and it’s kind of something I work on.”
That work seems to have paid off this season, as Myers is 8 for 9 so far on field goals and 13 for 14 on extra points, after a miss Sunday against New Orleans.
“I think I’ve done the same offseason for the last four years,” Myers said. “If you’re just doing the same thing over and over it’s not gonna work. But if you’re constantly reviewing and going over stuff, then you’re always gonna be moving forward.”
When he does miss, Myers has a process to help himself bounce back quickly. He takes a minute to reflect on what went wrong, and then he gets ready for his next kick.
The key is to not let any frustration linger.
“I mean, it’s the life of a kicker in the NFL. You’ve got to make the next kick, no matter if you made the one before that or not,” Myers said. “So you know, you may get two kicks a game or you may get nine kicks. You’re paid to make them all, so I’ll give myself a minute or two to review in my head what I felt went wrong, and then you get right back into your pre-kick rhythm, staying loose, and staying mentally ready.”
Long snapper Carson Tinker says Myers is all about rhythm and timing as a kicker and a person. He hates it when people are late, and he likes to keep the timing on his kicks consistent.
Tinker took the blame for Myers’ missed field goal against Detroit, saying that the snap slipped out of his hand and caused Myers to get out of rhythm.
“I mean, that’s the worst, right? Because, again, my job is to put Jason in the best position to be successful, and I didn’t follow through on that one,” Tinker said. “So now, I mean, we don’t have to say anything on the sideline. We’re all pros. Like, everybody knew what happened between me, Michael (Dickson) and Jason. So, you know, the best thing we can do is go back out and finish strong and that’s what we were able to do.”
After his miss against the Lions, Myers bounced back with a 25-yard field goal with 9:32 left in the game to put the Seahawks up by 10 points and finished 2-for-3 with a 56-yarder.
He made another 56-yard field goal in the next game against New Orleans.
No matter what happens in the future, there will never be another day quite like Oct. 2 for Myers, after he helped the Seahawks win and called his wife to see his new daughter for the first time.
Was it hard for him to focus on such a momentous day?
“No,” Myers said. “Got to do a job still. But it was fun, yep. Definitely.”