BGA: Special Teams – Let off the hook

Yes, the offense has been bad, but the special teams units have been almost as bad and that’s perhaps not getting the attention it should.

After an awful performance last week, this week was almost as bad, as Marcus Thigpen had a 25-yard punt return and a 50-yard kickoff return. Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Darrin Walls and Jermaine Cunningham all missed tackles on one return. It could have been worse, but Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster each made terrific open-field tackles with the second wave nowhere in sight on two punts. Furthermore, the Jets almost had two punts blocked and committed a pre-snap penalty.

One major issue has to be personnel. Starters Dawan Landry (who actually made a good tackle on the opening kickoff) and David Harris both had to play this week, as the Jets have lost several special teams contributors in recent weeks (including Troy Davis, Ricky Sapp, Rontez Miles, Konrad Reuland – and Josh Cribbs during the game). They’ve also had to move Caleb Schlauderaff into the wedge blocker role previously occupied by Reuland. Harris was playing left tackle on the punt unit which is where the pressure came from on one of the near blocks. It looked like the pre-snap penalty was down to him too.

However, you also have to question the coach. It’s looking increasingly likely there will be a coaching staff overhaul this offseason and you have to wonder what Ben Kotwica’s chances of surviving that are.

Nick Folk had a pretty easy day with one chip shot field goal and two kickoffs, neither of which were touchbacks. Punter Ryan Quigley was considerably busier, of course. His numbers were okay, despite out-kicking his coverage a few times.

With Cribbs injured, Kyle Wilson was underwhelming returning punts and kicks. When they moved Antonio Cromartie onto kick returns, he looked good, as he always does. Obviously he can still move straight-ahead, even if his lateral movement is compromised by his injuries. With him struggling so much on defense that he’s arguably no longer expendable, perhaps they should just move him into that role full time if Cribbs is out for any extended period of time.

Finally, Isaiah Trufant drew a penalty and almost blocked a punt.

Next up…we wrap things up