Adapt and Evolve: Randy Bullock Gives The Bengals A Leg Up

191006-Bullock-Randy_field_goal_kick (AP)

When a quarterback throws an interception, he generally knows he will get another shot soon. If a defensive tackle gets blocked on a big run, there is another series of downs coming. 

For a kicker, there is not always another opportunity waiting around the corner.

That's why Bengals kicker Randy Bullock after eight years in the league understands a comprehensive approach is the best method to achieve success. Especially in the world of specialists where they are viewed as either a hero or zero based off of their last kick.

From swing analytics to additional film study, Bullock's embrace of a comprehensive approach has paid off as the wily veteran enjoys one of his most successful seasons as a pro.

"I think you are constantly trying to improve your ability, improve your consistency," Bullock said. "I think that's the name of the game. It's why the three specialists (Bullock, Kevin Huber and Clark Harris) we have here have played as long as we have. We are able to adapt and evolve with the game."

Bullock quietly is enjoying a solid season. The Texas A&M grad and 2011 Lou Groza award winner has converted 12 of his last 13 field goal attempts. Bullock is also one of seven qualifying kickers to not miss a point after attempt this season.

Most observers would be surprised by Bullock's success because at one point in his career he played for four teams in four seasons. It's all part of the journey of being an NFL kicker going through the team-by-team carousel. He has found stability in his four seasons with the Bengals, connecting on 85.1 percent of his field goals and 92 of 96 extra points. 

Huber, who holds on extra points and field goals, believes those previous experiences have made Bullock mentally tough to handle every possible game situation.

"Whenever he is put in tough situations, the few missed kicks he's had, he's bounced back really well from those," said Huber. "Darrin (Simmons) is a tough coach and holds us to a high standard. If there is a mess up, he will let you know about it. I can easily see how that would rattle some people. Randy has done a really good job of taking criticism, taking coaching and be able to correct whatever has happened. He takes that feedback and uses it to be better for his next kick or next situation he is in."

This past offseason Bullock spent additional time working with his personal kicking coach Rocky Willingham, as well as Simmons. Much like a golf swing, Bullock's kicking approach was analyzed in minute detail. Everything from where he plants his foot to leg velocity helped Bullock refine his approach.

Consistency is the phrase that keeps echoing in Bullock's mind. He understands with its specialized nature, being a kicker is one of the most transactional positions on an NFL roster. The Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots have each used three kickers, and the season is only two-thirds complete.

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"I think more than anything you have to be the same person every day," Bullock said. "Whether you experience the highest of the highs or the lowest of the lows, you have to stay even keel and keep doing what you have to do."

Highs and lows are natural during any NFL career. For specialists those peaks and valleys are more extreme because of how few opportunities one gets. Even the evaluation is more black and white than other positions. For a punter, it's a player's gross and net yardage. For a kicker it is field goal and extra point percentages.

This season Bullock knows all of his effort and patience is paying off in a big way.

"I feel like I've put together a pretty good season so far," Bullock said. "On special teams we've done well as a unit. We're just trying to win some games and everyone is doing their part to help us get to where we need to be."

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