Grading current special teams situation
The New York Jets have addressed many issues on special teams this offseason as the unit is looking much better than compared to last year.
Let’s face it, the special teams unit of the New York Jets was atrocious in 2015. Punter Ryan Quigley was Mr. Inconsistent, kicker Randy Bullock had several big misses in Nick Folk‘s absence, and the tackling couldn’t have been any worse. Not to mention, the kick and punt return teams constantly put pressure on the offense. Very rarely did the Jets rip off a big return to set themselves up nicely. This upcoming season has the potential to be a huge bounce back for the group, however.
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Folk is as reliable a kicker as you can get in the NFL nowadays. With what happened in last year’s wild card round to kicker Blair Walsh, you never know what could go wrong on any given attempt. Even chip shots have become missable for a majority of kickers. Luckily for the Jets, Folk is different.
In his nine seasons in the NFL, he has yet to miss an extra point. On top of that, he’s 130 of 143 on field goals inside of 40 yards. The longer extra point rule has only been in effect for a year, but usually a kicker has a miss or two under the old format. The Arizona graduate is perfect when it comes to PATs and New York hopes he can string together a 2013-esque season. The only concerns are of course his injury-riddled 2014 and 2015 campaigns.
New punter Lachlan Edwards has many fans excited heading into 2016. The Australian is an intriguing prospect simply because many of the NFL’s best kickers and punters come from the ‘Land Down Under.’
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Edwards played his college ball at Sam Houston State and had a mere eight touchbacks on 74 punts in 2015.
31 of those punts were fair catches and 31 were downed inside the 20-yard line.
If his game can translate to the next level, the Jets will have a heck of a punter and a major upgrade over Quigley.
As for the return teams and coverage, both have to step it up in the new year.
Receivers Jalin Marshall and Jeremy Ross showcased plenty of upside and speed in the first preseason contest against the Jacksonville Jaguars. The two exploded for long returns which made the difference in the outcome of the game. Right now, they seem to be fighting over the No. 6 spot on the depth chart.
Julian Howsare is another hard-working guy who has a strong chance to make the roster. He can play both fullback and linebacker as well as cover kicks/punts. Taiwan Jones and Doug Middleton also fall in that category as bodies the Jets can make great use of. Nonetheless, execution might be the biggest key in improving kick/punt coverage.
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Overall, there’s nothing to really complain about at the moment with the special teams unit. Kicker Ross Martin had himself a rough outing last Thursday night, although he’s a long shot to crack the final 53 even if he drills three 70-yarders. Folk is just too meaningful to the team. You simply can’t nitpick this group…yet.