Jets vs. Bears: Week 8 special teams grades
By Justin Fried
The New York Jets special teams failed to be much of a factor in the team’s 24-10 loss to the Chicago Bears despite the opportunity to do so. What grade does the unit earn following this lackluster performance?
It was another less than a spectacular day for the New York Jets special teams in Week 8 as the unit didn’t make much of a difference as a whole and in some ways negatively affected the team.
But let’s be optimists here and begin with the positives.
Kicker Jason Myers continued his red-hot streak connecting on his only field goal attempt, a 42-yarder in the rainy, windy conditions in Chicago. Myers also successfully kicked his only extra point try giving him yet another perfect day kicking the football.
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There’s a good case to be made that Myers has been the Jets most surprising player this year as the former Jacksonville Jaguar is putting together a Pro Bowl-caliber season. This comes after a three-year span where Myers was statistically one of the worst kickers in the NFL during his time with the Jaguars.
The only downside of Myers recent hot stretch has been the Jets inability to get into scoring position to actually utilize their kicker’s recent string of stellar performances.
Elsewhere, the Jets managed to limit the Chicago Bears return game, especially punt returner Tarik Cohen who averaged just nine yards per return on four attempts. Cohen is one of the most dynamic and dangerous return specialists in the league so it was certainly encouraging to see his game stymied by the Jets special teams.
Outside of those two things, however, it wasn’t an aspiring showing for the special teams unit as a whole.
The Jets were unable to get anything going in the return game as Andre Roberts was unable to return a single kick and returned just one punt for a measly eight yards. Roberts has been an incredible find for the Jets this year and he’s given the team a reliable, potentially game-changing returner, something the team hasn’t had in quite some time.
Unfortunately for Roberts and the Jets, the open lanes just weren’t there on Sunday.
The most discouraging aspect of the special teams unit on Sunday, however, was the play of punter Lachlan Edwards. The poor weather conditions seemed to affect Edwards as the Aussie punter booted four kicks that traveled 40 yards or less. This included two shanks which went 32 yards and 35 yards respectively.
And it wasn’t as if any of these punts were downed deep into Chicago territory. The furthest the Bears were pinned back with any of those punts was their own 29-yard line with two of those kicks giving the Bears great field position starting at their own 45-yard line.
Edwards did have a nice punt earlier in the game that traveled 55 yards and pinned Chicago inside their own 20-yard line but one punt certainly doesn’t make up for a string of bad ones. The Sam Houston State product was a major part of the reason that the team lost the field position battle in this game which proved to partially be a deciding factor in the outcome.
Edwards has developed into a solid punter over the past year or so but he needs to become more consistent with his punts. Too often his punts are shorter than you would hope and he’s not exactly superb at pinning teams deep into their own territory.
Where Edwards really excels is with his impressive hang time on his punts but when it comes down to it, it’s likely better to have a punter who can drop a kick inside the five-yard line than one that could kick it 40 yards and not allow a return. Edwards will need to improve on that aspect of his game and prove that he could be both or else the team could opt to move on from him once his rookie contract is up at the end of next season.
Overall, Edwards performance and the lack of a return game bring the grade down significantly but Myers once again saves the day with another flawless game.