The Jets’ special teams units have come under fire in recent weeks, where they’ve been giving up a ton of yardage on the coverage units. However, this week, it was the special teams unit which arguably came up with the biggest play of the game.
Antonio Allen’s punt block and recovery in the end zone transformed a pretty tight game into a comfortable half time lead for the Jets, and it came on a well designed play where Ellis Lankster rushed across the face of the long snapper and drew the punt protector out of the middle, so that Allen had a clean path to the punter.
While Garrett McIntyre’s return to the lineup helped, the coverage units benefited from two things. First of all, the Jets only had to punt twice, and when they did, one went through the end zone and the other was a beauty by Ryan Quigley that bounced out of bounds at the two. Secondly, Nick Folk was hanging his kicks up short all day, and that seemed to help the coverage units get down there quicker. They still missed six tackles, including two by Allen, but limited the damage with some good gang tackling and solid plays by the likes of Kyle Wilson, Isaiah Trufant and Nick Bellore.
Bellore also recovered an onside kick to preserve the win, although it’s well worth noting that there should have been a penalty on the Raiders because David Nelson was in perfect position to catch the ball and he got knocked over by Jack Crawford before the ball had traveled 10 yards.
On field goals, Nick Folk was flawless again, making three kicks, including a 51-yarder.
In the return game, Darius Reynaud was okay, but did bobble his first kickoff, preventing him from getting a chance to run it back. One other kickoff was fielded by Alex Green who juked a defender and looked set to make a long gain, but then slipped.
While there was no punt return yardage this week, we shouldn’t forget that this has been an area where they need to improve. McIntyre should help this, but it’s obvious that the cat is out of the bag in terms of Lankster being the biggest threat on that unit, because the Dolphins reportedly admitted that stopping him was their number one priority last week. Much like with Muhammad Wilkerson, if they’re dedicating extra resources towards slowing him down, then someone else needs to step up.
Next up…we wrap things up and look ahead to next week.