New York Jets 2015 Training Camp: Grading Special Teams
When you think of the special teams unit of the New York Jets, you right away think of kicker Nick Folk. Since joining Gang Green in 2010, he’s made handfuls of clutch field goals to win the team meaningful games in dramatic fashion. The last thing Jets fans want to suffer through is another Doug Brien-like moment in crunch time of an important game, so it’s good to have Folk on the roster.
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In 2013, he had arguably the best year of his career making 33 out of 36 field goals and hitting 3 game-winning kicks. Last year he made 32 out of 39 kicks, but he was dealing with a hamstring injury that lingered throughout the season.
Regardless, Folk has showed great improvement from his disastrous 2009 campaign as a member of the Cowboys in which he only converted on 18 of 28 kicks. If the Jets hadn’t signed him in the 2010 off season, he may not have been in the league much longer. Fortunately, he was able to bounce back and mold himself into one of the best kickers in football at the moment. Andrew Furney was recently cut by the team in order to make space for undrafted free agent Austin Hill, therefore Folk is the only kicker on the roster heading into training camp.
Oct 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; New York Jets punterRyan Quigley
(4) punts during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Punting the ball has been a different story for the Jets. New York has been searching for a consistent punter ever since the departure of Steve Weatherford following the 2010 season. T.J. Conley, Robert Malone, and Ryan Quigley have all started games in the time being.
Quigley, the current starter, has been mediocre to say the least in these past two years. His average punt has hovered around 46 yards and his percentage of kicks inside the 20 yard line has been close to 29%.
Quigley was a bit shaky in 2014 simply because he had 9 touchbacks, but if he can lower that number just a bit this upcoming season, he should by no means be a liability for Gang Green. The other punter on the team is Jake Schum, although he’s used year after year just to push Quigley before Week 1 hits. As a result, don’t expect to see him on the roster much longer.
New York’s special teams did take a minor hit this offseason letting inside linebacker Nick Bellore walk, however, veterans Jamari Lattimore and Joe Mays could give the Jets the help they need in kick/punt coverage. Lattimore spent the first four years of his career with the Packers while Mays has spent time with multiple teams in his seven seasons in the league.
Undrafted free agent Taiwan Jones will have his chance to help the unit as well. He was very effective on as a special teamer in his freshman year at Michigan State before taking over as a starter the following season. Whoever grabs the final inside linebacker spot out of those three will most likely be the guy to replace Bellore in 2015.
Overall, the special teams unit should give New York no significant issues this upcoming year. Let’s not forget, Tanner Purdum is still the long-snapper and as long as Folk is on the roster, the Jets can have someone to lean on when neither their offense or defense is on the field.
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