According to recent forecasts, “Frankenstorm,” the threatening conditions expected from the convergence of Hurricane Sandy with a wintry storm front from the north, is expected to hit the New York metropolitan area full force by Tuesday. But Sunday afternoon’s Jets-Dolphins game at MetLife Stadium doesn’t figure to be a sunny walk in the park.
Predictions call for a 40 percent chance of rain and winds of 23 miles per hour as the storm makes its way up the East Coast toward New York. Jets coach Rex Ryan said on Friday that every defensive coordinator in the country would welcome high winds and think, “There goes the passing game.”
Since the Jets and Dolphins both consider themselves run-first teams, they should be fairly well-equipped to handle the elements. But the kicking game, which had such an impact in the Jets’ 23-20 overtime win earlier this season in Miami, could be affected severely. Dolphins placekicker Dan Carpenter missed two field goal attempts in that game.
Jets punter Robert Malone has been tracking the storm and said, “It could be pretty bad. Basically, it comes down to shortening your drop as much as you can. The less time it’s in the air, the less it has time to get affected by the wind and the weather. You kind of think about hitting it out of your hands rather than dropping it.”
Placekicker Nick Folk (pictured No. 2 with his holder Malone No. 3) said he never worries about weather conditions until he shows up at the stadium on game day to evaluate how to adjust. “The key to your day is how you prepare in pregame and what you feel out there,” Folk said. “When you go out to kick, you have to trust what you feel. Don’t believe what you have felt in the past. Things can change like that. Trust what you feel at that moment and adapt to that situation.”
Folk said he once played a game that was stopped for 80 minutes by monsoon rains in college at the University of Arizona, of all places. And he recalled playing in a downpour during a Monday night game with the Jets.
Malone’s worst weather experience came last season when he was playing for Detroit in a game at Chicago’s Soldier Field next to Lake Michigan. Turns out they don’t call it the “Windy City” for nothing.
“There were 35 mile-an-hour winds with 50 mile-an-hour gusts,” Malone recalled. “It was tough. We had our kicking net set up with a bag of about 30 balls on top of it, helmets on top and probably about 100 pounds total. It just flew the net onto the field with balls everywhere. It took off [placekicker Jason] Hanson’s hat across to the Chicago sidelines in about three seconds.
“It was just nuts. Warmups weren’t pretty. The game went okay as far as kicking, but I remember there was a time I dropped the ball and almost missed it completely because it just flew out so hard.”
The winds swirl strongly at MetLife Stadium in normal conditions, so, there’s no telling what strange things might occur if “Frankenstorm” arrives in time for some fun with the football.