I recently interviewed Josh Lambo, kicker of the Jacksonville Jaguars at NFL UK’s Summer Bowl event in London.
Lambo entered the NFL prior to the 2015 season, spending his first two campaigns in San Diego before moving to Jacksonville.
I want to start by asking you about kickers and goalkeepers. I’m a big soccer fan –
Er, I’m a Liverpool fan.
[A look of pity sweeps across Lambo’s face]
So I’ve seen my team experience horrific goalkeeping errors, and I wanted to ask you if you think there’s any parallel between goalkeepers who make mistakes, and NFL kickers who miss big kicks.
Yeah, absolutely. I think what you have to do in that situation is have the mindset of ‘the most important kick, the most important save is the next one’. It doesn’t matter if you’ve make a save or miss a save, you still have to come back and make the next one. One mistake – not great. But you can still make other big saves and help your team. Obviously, two mistakes in the Champions League final [apologetically laughs]… it’s not dwelling in the mistakes but revelling in the opportunity of doing your job next.
What do you do when you’re on the sidelines? I remember reading an article about veteran kicker Adam Vinatieri, which said he keeps himself to himself down at one end of the bench, occasionally practicing his kicks in the net. Are you similar?
Yeah, very similar. When our team is on defense I’m sitting on the bench just trying to watch. I’m always close to the net though in case we get a pick six or a strip-sack, which happened quite often this year! But I’ll always be close to the net, in case I see an interception and we’re booking it the other way – particularly if it’s Jalen (Ramsey)! I’ll just go ahead and kick into the net, then jog onto the field. And when we’re on offense I have a rhythm I like to kick in, so yeah very similar to Vinatieri. It’s difficult to stay engaged, but you need to find what works for you.
Moving to the Jags now, you guys had a pretty special season last year! Looking ahead though, you’re a part of a very capable AFC South. How important are those divisional match-ups going to be?
Yeah, the road to the playoffs is through your division. So that’s something that our head coach really drives home to us. We’re gonna win the division first. We’re not worried about the Lombardi Trophy, we’re worried about winning the AFC South. Even lesser than that, he’s like ‘we’ve got to win this week’. We don’t care about Wembley in Week Eight, we don’t care about Week Two, we care about Week One. Away to New York, that’s the biggest game for us right now. I think that ‘one game at a time’ mentality really helped us succeed last year. You can’t get to Pittsburgh without going through Buffalo, you can’t get to New England without going through Pittsburgh on the road.
Your boys did come very close last year-
Being five minutes away from the Super Bowl, how do you fire yourselves up again? How do you prepare yourselves to go one step further in 2018?
Getting yourself fired up isn’t the issue, because we are all fired up! Being five points away from the Super Bowl, you use that as fuel and as fire. Our coaches are fired up, they want to be better coaches, all the players want to be better players. It’s taking the things that made us successful last year and building on the things that maybe held us back a little bit. You go through your mistakes, you learn from them, and you just try to get better.