Jets vs. Browns: Week 3 special teams grades
By Justin Fried
The New York Jets may have lost to the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night, but the special teams did their part and continued their surprisingly strong start to the season. How did the unit grade out after another rock-solid performance?
The New York Jets may sit at just 1-2 and they may have just made history in becoming the first team to lose to the Cleveland Browns in almost two years, but at least their special teams unit have played well so far.
For seemingly the last half-decade or so, the Jets have consistently had one of the worst all-around special teams units in the NFL. Ever since renowned special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff left the team in 2012 after a 12-year stint with the franchise, the Jets have struggled with every aspect of special teams and it didn’t appear that things would be changing anytime soon.
The unit struggled immensely in the preseason with an absolute meltdown of a performance against the New York Giants in Week 3 leading fans to believe that nothing would be different this upcoming season.
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However, to the surprise of nearly everyone, the Jets special teams has far exceeded all expectations and continues to impact games in a positive way for the team.
This week, the major positive impact came in the form of a blocked punt by linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis which set the team up with great field position deep in Cleveland territory. This ultimately led to the Jets first score of the game, a seven-yard run from the powerful Isaiah Crowell that gave the team an early 7-0 lead.
These are the kinds of splash plays that have been missing from the Jets special teams in recent years. In the past, it would be the Jets who would find themselves at the receiving end of game-changing special teams blunders that would cost them victories.
After a punt return touchdown from Andre Roberts in Week 1 and now a blocked punt from Pierre-Louis, it seems that the tide as finally shifted in favor of the Jets, at least for the time being.
Elsewhere, punter Lachlan Edwards was asked to punt a season-high seven times to which he did with a good amount of success. The Aussie punter downed three kicks inside the Cleveland 20-yard line and averaged nearly 50 yards on each of his punts, the longest being a booming 62-yard boot.
Edwards has shown steady improvement over his three years as a professional and has quietly developed into a very impressive punter. He still needs to show more improvement with his coffin-corner kicking but his hangtime and power are up there with some of the best in the league.
It was a quiet day for kicker Jason Myers who connected on his only field goal attempt from 28-yards out while making both of his extra point attempts. Myers is by no means a flawless kicker but the Jacksonville import has been steady thus far nailing each of his field goal attempts and missing just one of his extra points.
His extra point struggles will be worth monitoring going forward but as of now, it’s been a case of no harm, no foul.
Return man Andre Roberts also had a quiet day bringing back just one kick and one punt each for modest gains. At the very least, Roberts has given the Jets a reliable return man who can consistently gain positive yards and regularly not muff the returns. For the Jets, that’s something they haven’t had in years, as sad as that may seem to say.
Overall, it was another very encouraging showing from the Jets special teams unit and Brant Boyer and the coaching staff should be proud of how the unit has played so far this year.