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Special teams could be a strength again

Jun 14, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jalin Marshall (89) during OTA at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 14, 2016; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jalin Marshall (89) during OTA at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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The New York Jets have done a good job so far re-hauling their special teams unit. By the looks of it, the Jets have made the right moves so far so it can be a strength again.

This offseason, the New York Jets made some key moves in bolstering their special teams unit.  Based on the abysmal results of last year, the unit needs to step up for the Jets to be successful in 2016.

Related Story: New York Jets: Special teams is key for playoff run

The Jets had great special teams from 2001-12 under former special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff.  Since he retired after the 2012 season, the Jets have had one of the worst special teams units in the NFL.  Their 85.2  field goal percentage was 18th in the league, punting average was 16th, 42 fair catches was 29th and 85 touchbacks on kickoffs were 31st.

The Jets hired their fourth special teams coordinator in as many years when they hired Brant Boyer, who is in his fifth year in the league as a special teams coach.  There are several key players that will impact Boyer’s unit.

Wide receiver Devin Smith is coming off of a season-ending injury in December as he’s still raw at the position.  His speed could be a difference-maker on punt and kickoff returns.  Despite being sixth in the NFL over the last three seasons, last year, the punt returns were near the bottom of the league.

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Wide receiver Charone Peake also has raw speed which would do well on special teams for the Jets.

With only two returned kickoffs and punts combined in his collegiate career, Peake might bring an interesting dimension to returns.

With the right coaching however, his speed can be used as an asset in the return game.

Wide receiver Jalin Marshall went undrafted in the 2016 NFL Draft and is the most experienced in returning kickoffs.

He had 52 punt returns in college and it would be best to use him in special teams while learning the NFL game.

Punter Lachlan Edwards was drafted in the seventh round by the Jets.  He has a booming leg which will help pin the Jets’ opponents back.  If they want to as well, he can be used as the kickoff specialist, because of the power of his leg.

Kicker Ross Martin was one of the best kickers in all of college football throughout his career.  He scored 430 points in his career, and he missed scoring 100 points in each season at Duke by three points in 2013.  His 83.9% career field goal percentage includes 8-10 from 50+ yards in his career and 13-16 from 40+ in his junior and senior seasons.

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Football is a three-phase game, and while game in and game out, one phase can fail and the other picks it up.  However, if a phase is broken for the entire season, the team will fail, period.  The special teams has to step up and hold its end of the bargain this upcoming season. General manager Mike Maccagnan seems to have made the correct moves to improve the special teams.  Time will tell whether or not he worked his magic like he has on the other phases. So far however based on the first game of the preseason and throughout training camp, the special teams unit is looking much better than last year.

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