The most unpopular Seahawk across the Northwest became an unexpectedly popular one in the locker room after his last, wayward game.
Yes, Jason Myers appreciates it.
“Yeah, it’s always good when your teammates back you like that,” Seattle’s kicker said Friday.
It was five days after he missed an extra point and two field goals, including one on the final play of the fourth quarter that would have won the game against Tampa Bay.
After the game, Seahawks teammates and coach Pete Carroll made a point to address Myers directly in the locker room. And unlike what you may have wanted to say to him, they fully supported the kicker with encouragement and faith.
He’s what they’ve got at kicker, at $5.5 million guaranteed. They are going to need him to get into and then advance in the playoffs.
No use ditching him nine games into his first season on the team.
“It was good to kind of hear that,” Myers said, “to get that feeling from them.”
You may think 300-pound guys who spent three-plus hours banging their heads and bodies to win a game would have been irate at Myers. Heck, you were irate at him—and you weren’t banging your heads into anything except maybe your television after Myers’ misses.
But Myers said he knew what reception he’d get from his mates Sunday after almost costing the Seahawks a win they eventually got in overtime—without him. Russell Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Jacob Hollister on the first drive of OT.
“No,” I was not surprised, he said. “That’s the family feel we have here.
“So, I wasn’t surprised at all.”
Myers was the Pro Bowl kicker for the New York Jets in 2018. The Seahawks signed him this offseason to a four-year contract worth up to $15.45 million to replace retired Sebastian Janikowski. Janikowski replaced Blair Walsh. Walsh replaced Steven Hauschka for 2017.
Seattle decided to sign Walsh and let Hauschka sign with Buffalo two-plus years ago to save $2.45 million and get younger at kicker.
They have been paying for that decision for the last 2 1/2 seasons.
Walsh went 21 of 29 on field goals in 2017, the misses costing the Seahawks in some narrow losses that had they been wins would have sent them back into the playoffs. It’s the only season in the last seven years Seattle hasn’t made the playoffs.
Janikowski, signed last year after 18 years with Oakland, beat out Myers in a competition that really wasn’t in the 2018 preseason; the Seahawks released Myers after one preseason game. Janikowski made 22 of 27 field goals, missed three extra points, then injured his leg in the playoff game at Dallas in January. That left All-Pro punter Michael Dickson unsuccessfully trying to drop-kick an onside kick to end Seattle’s last chance to rally past the Cowboys.
Myers was supposed to solve all those issues. So far, he hasn’t.
He is just 3 for 8 on kicks from 40 yards on more; the one that he missed wide right on the final play of regulation against Tampa Bay was from 40 yards. That means when the Seahawks have gotten to the 22-yard line or out, they’ve had just a 37.5-percent chance of scoring three points.
That would kill playoff contention.
But Carroll is publicly—and in the postgame locker room—standing by his kicker.
“Jason Myers, he’s our kicker,” Carroll said Sunday after the escape past the Buccaneers. “It didn’t go right today for him, but it’s going to.
“So, we’re counting on him to come back next week and kick the winners and do all the things we need to do. He has a magnificent talent, and today it got hard and didn’t work out right. But we won anyway. Our guys won for him. They all said that in the locker room; they cared about him, they got his back, and it couldn’t have been more clear about guys coming together for one of their own.”
On Monday, Carroll doubled down on his and his players’ support for Myers.
“Our guys in the locker room really jumped to Jason after the game knowing that he had a tough day and made a point to him that we were there with him supporting him and knowing just like everybody else makes mistakes in their jobs,” Carroll said. “Sometimes, it doesn’t work out the way we want it to. It doesn’t mean that we’re not caring for you and looking after you and counting on you.
“The communication I’ve had with him, he’s ready to bounce and we’re ready to bounce and we put what just happened behind us. Whether it was good or whether it was bad, we put it behind us, and we move forward. That’s how we’re going.”
That’s how they have to go. The alternatives as street free agents this late in a season are sub-optimal; that’s why they are available in November. Walsh, for instance, is available. Has been since the Seahawks released him following the 2017 season. He hasn’t kicked in an NFL game since.
How important are field goals?
Since 2015, the Seahawks have played 25 games decided by three points or fewer.
Last season, they played in eight such games, almost half the 17, including the playoff one. They went 4-4 in those tight games.
Three of the first nine games of this season have been decided within a field goal for Seattle, which is 7-2 going into Monday night’s NFC West showdown at 8-0 San Francisco.
Myers said he felt right away in last weekend’s game against the Buccaneers that his “swing” was off, like a golfer on a rough day.
“I was just kind of grindin’ on Sunday,” he said. “I knew the swing wasn’t exactly where I wanted it to be. Sometimes you can grind through it, and sometimes it doesn’t fall (your way). ...
“It’s like a golfer, man. It just kind of comes about you. You just (know) what feels right and what doesn’t. I knew what was going on. I was fixing it. But at the same time I’m not like a, you know, mechanical, step-by-step kicker. I like to...you know, I know my swing. I know the ins and outs of it. But then when it gets down to it I like to just swing.
“I think I got a little too technical when I was trying to fix it. And it just didn’t go my way.”
Myers said this sort of thing happens to him “once or twice a year,” and most people don’t notice his feel, his “swing,” is off if he makes all his kicks in that game.
Unlike his predecessors as Seahawks kickers, Myers said he hasn’t gone down for extra practice inside CenturyLink Field on days between games. He said he, Dickson the holder and long snapper Tyler Ott last did that this summer.
Myers said he sees nothing to kicking into the open, downtown side of CenturyLink Field, which is the end he missed the 40-yarder at the end of regulation against Tampa Bay and missed the extra point. Even his 22-yarder he made earlier in the fourth quarter at that end barely made it inside the upright. He says the winds were trickier and swirled more for him last season when he kicked for the Jets in the New Jersey Meadowlands.
Part of Myers’ routine is talking each week to the sports psychologist he has had since his rookie season of 2015 with Jacksonville. He also talks with Dr. Michael Gervais, the sports psychologist the Seahawks contract for their players—and the man running back Chris Carson credits for helping him get through a spate of fumbles early this season.
“I stick to my routine, good or bad,” he said. “That’s just putting everything behind me.”
Myers—and the Seahawks—know if he does his job and makes his kicks Monday night in what are forecast to be near-perfect weather conditions in Santa Clara, California, all will be well again.
It is, after all, the life of a kicker.
“You have to take what happened as what happened. You don’t try to change everything,” Myers said. “There’s no reason for that.
“Just kind of watched the film, came up with a good game plan, and, you know, kind of keep working.”