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Stepping Into The (Jim) Breech And The Kicking Game Now and Then

Jim Breech, the Bengals' most prolific kicker and one of their best clutch players ever, has a franchise-best 1,151 points of experience.

So he's not all that worried about Randy Bullock's recent misses after a month he led the NFL in scoring and became the Bengals' all-time accuracy leader. Now Bullock is back in second place behind Shayne Graham on the accuracy list, but the Bengals special teams Godfather is hoping Bullock gets a chance to beat the Cowboys Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Fox 19) at Paul Brown Stadium.

Breech, 64, is still a huge Bengals fan, a big admirer of special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons as well as long-time punter Kevin Huber and is as well connected to the game as he was when he scored his last point following Derrick Fenner's 35-yard touchdown run in the 1992 finale.

Simmons also has at his disposal on the roster former Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert and Breech has been in both spots. Remember, when the Bengals let go Chris Bahr in 1980, the Raiders couldn't wait to pounce on him and released Breech after he kicked for the Raiders in 1979. And that was after the Lions drafted him in 1978 and cut him.

"I think Randy is a really, really good kicker," says Breech in the latest edition of Old School Scribe Podcast.

He felt for Bullock on the 53-yard miss in Miami last Sunday courtesy of a 15-yard penalty: "It would have been 38 and he would have made it easily. It's unfortunate that extra 15 yards, it kept moving left. You want to be as consistent as possible, but if you have a down game you can't dwell on that. (Cowboys kicker) Greg Zuerlein goes 1-for-4 (Tuesday) night. Next week he might have the game-winning attempt. Hopefully not. They're playing the Bengals."

But he thinks Simmons gets it straightened out. He wonders why he isn't a head coach somewhere. When there's no COVID, Breech, who is the head of the Bengals' alumni group, makes sure he visits Paul Brown Stadium once or twice a year to check in on the kickers, and he's extremely impressed with Simmons' attention to detail as he handles virtually every aspect of the roster.

"(Bullock) will be fine," Breech says. "Whatever mechanical thing is going on he'll get it worked out. Darrin is really, really exceptional working with kickers like many special teams coaches. That's changed quite a bit where guys actually have a pretty good handle."

It wasn't always like that. In fact, Breech says he and his peers had no idea what they were doing. "We learned as we went." For instance, for years he thought he had to be low to the ground until he discovered the guys who stood straighter had more power. He figures he was kicking longer at age 36 than age 25. But he always seemed to have crunch time covered, when he was 9-for-9 in overtime and drilled the biggest field goal in Bengals history on that 40-yarder with 3:20 left in Super Bowl XXIII that gave them the lead and Breech the MVP since it was his third field goal of the night in a 16-13 game.

He's got a lot of regard for a guy like Bullock and his 84.9 percentage in five seasons with the Bengals. Breech notes that in 1979 he made 67 percent of his field goals for the Raiders, 10th in the NFL. In his last six seasons with the Bengals, it was nearly 78 percent at about the same spot in the rankings. Last season, Bullock was 10th at 87 percent.

"The expectation level is so high. Randy missing a couple of kicks, especially two of them 53 and 58 and the 58 hit the upright, I believe, the expectation level is so high, they aren't expected to miss at all," Breech says.

"It's all a head game with kicking."