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Grading the 2017 special teams situation of the Jets

By Ryan Patti
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13: Lac Edwards #4 of the New York Jets in action against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 13: Lac Edwards #4 of the New York Jets in action against the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium on November 13, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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The special teams unit of the New York Jets did them no favors in 2016 as they threw away multiple games. This year’s bunch could be even worse.

The New York Jets project to be bad in 2017. As a matter of fact, they project to be very bad. One would think that with trouble on both sides of the ball, they’d at least have a respectable special teams unit to bail them out. Oakland and Cleveland’s weak rosters had speedsters in the return game as well as a kicker or punter you could trust. That’s not the case here.

New York is rolling the dice again on Lachlan Edwards and it’s quite the gamble considering how often they’ll be punting. The 2016 seventh-rounder had an average rookie campaign and an unimpressive offseason.

He booted the ball 75 times and averaged 43.1 yards per punt. His longest punt went 59 yards and he pinned 24 of the 75 inside the 20-yard line. Let’s also not forget about his muffed snap that went for a touchdown against Baltimore.

In the preseason, he punted 31 times for a 45.4 average. He did have just one touchback, although only seven of his punts went inside the 20. His longest boot was 55 yards. Edwards hasn’t exactly been a disappointment since taking over for Ryan Quigley, but he does need to put the unit on his back more in 2017. The offense will give him plenty of opportunities to do so.

The Jets are taking an even bigger risk in the kicking department. They went ahead and released Nick Folk in the spring to save $3 million. To compete for the job this season, general manager Mike Maccagnan signed Chandler Catanzaro and brought back Ross Martin who lost the job to Folk in 2016. He ended up losing the job again this year as Maccagnan opted to go with experience over upside.

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That experience has been far from perfect. Catanzaro has a career field goal percentage of 84.8 in three seasons in Arizona along with a 93.2 extra point percentage.

When your home stadium is enclosed, those numbers have to be a bit better. The ‘Meadowlands’ isn’t the friendliest environment for kickers, so Catanzaro has to shake off his brutal 2016 and gear up for the challenge.

The long snapper position has a new look as well. Gang Green parted ways with their longest-tenured player, Tanner Purdum, who was a member of the 2010-11 playoff team. To fill the void, the Jets sent safety Ronald Martin to Indianapolis in exchange for Thomas Hennessy.

Purdum was retained on a one-year deal in March, however, he supposedly struggled throughout training camp and the preseason. Since Hennessy’s cap number is just $465,000, the move saves a small amount of money. Maccagnan can only hope the 23-year-old becomes as consistent as Purdum was in his seven seasons.

Kick and punt returning is by far the weakest part of New York’s special teams. Lucky Whitehead was claimed off waivers to help revive the return game, but he now finds himself on injured reserve due to a broken foot. Marcus Murphy failed to impress in Whitehead’s wake, so he fell short of the final 53 and was placed on the practice squad. Recently signed Kalif Raymond is in line to handle duties until Jalin Marshall is off his four-game suspension.

Must Read: Grading the safety situation of the Jets

To be brutally honest, there isn’t a lot to look forward to in this area. Purdum is gone, Catanzaro will have his yips in East Rutherford like most kickers do and who knows what to expect of Raymond. Edwards provides the lone potential if he can add more distance on his punts.

Grade: D+

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