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Jets' Special Teams Coverage Woes


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There's no doubt that one of the Jets biggest Achilles' heels this season has been their special teams coverage, particularly on kickoffs. Last week it once again reared its ugly head, even if it didn't cost the Jets. I have been thinking about this, and I think there are two issues at play.

First off, the Jets have made a greater effort the past few years in building up the depth on this team, but it seems that in an effort to improve the rotational players on their base teams, they've had to sacrifice retaining and activating players with exceptional special teams abilities. Just the season the Jets traded away Jason Trusnick and then deactivated and eventually cut Ahmad Carrol, two of their best coverage players. It seems each week Mike Westhoff is left to work with whoever is out there and form them into a special teams unit, which has had unlikely characters like Danny Woodhead forced into the lineup. The talent level on that unit just isn't what it once was.

But it goes further than just that. Mike Westhoff didn't forget how to coach special teams coverages overnight and the rule changes to eliminate wedges this year should make covering kicks that much easier. Even last year before the Jets lost some of these guys there were still struggles. So the question is what else could it be?

As I said earlier, I think the difference in the Jets coverage units has been much more noticeable in the kick returns as opposed to punt. And upon thinking back, when did these problems really begin? The start of last season. Which brings me to what I believe is the other major component, as much as I like the guy, things took a turn for the worse when Feely took over as kicker. He's done a good job for this team on FGs, but since he started taking over on kickoffs the Jets have started to struggle and while its sometimes tough to judge on TV, his kicks clearly aren't always that great and think about how often you hear the announcers describe a Jets kickoff as a "low, line drive". As much as we all hated Nugent and complained about the distance of his kickoffs, the one thing he did to is put a lot of air under those things and there were typically minimal returns, and it seems like this may be a problem for Feely, as he's not allowing the coverage teams enough time to get down the field.

Of course the question becomes how do you address these issues? Do you put more emphasis back on having depth players who exceed at special teams? Do you go back to bringing in punters who can kickoff as well, as the Jets did when they had Doug Brien? I'm not sure what the answer is, but its clearly a problem, and its already cost this team at least one game this season.

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I've noticed this as well. Dont know what it is or why, but we need to win the field position battle this weekend, its a must.

Jason Trusnik is sitting some where wishing he could come help us out.

Thinks for getting back on topic. :biggrin:

Although I can't imagine he'd rather be in the playoffs with the Jets than sitting at home on Mangini's Browns. Come on, get real. Its just such a weird occurrence though. A lot of the blame last year was pushed onto O'Dea being the guy running the show all offseason, but Westhoff has back and its the same thing. While we've lost some guys, the one constant has been Feely and I'm wondering just how much its playing into their troubles.

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Thinks for getting back on topic. :biggrin:

Although I can't imagine he'd rather be in the playoffs with the Jets than sitting at home on Mangini's Browns. Come on, get real. Its just such a weird occurrence though. A lot of the blame last year was pushed onto O'Dea being the guy running the show all offseason, but Westhoff has back and its the same thing. While we've lost some guys, the one constant has been Feely and I'm wondering just how much its playing into their troubles.

IDK, we had these problems with Nuggent too. It seems both kickers are consistent FG kickers, but maybe not great KO kickers. I can remember discussions about bring in a KO specialist to supliment Nuggents consistency with FG's because he never kicked for a touch back.

What can we do in the divisional round of the playoffs. Feely is our guy and he came up clutch last week.

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Thinks for getting back on topic. :biggrin:

Although I can't imagine he'd rather be in the playoffs with the Jets than sitting at home on Mangini's Browns. Come on, get real. Its just such a weird occurrence though. A lot of the blame last year was pushed onto O'Dea being the guy running the show all offseason, but Westhoff has back and its the same thing. While we've lost some guys, the one constant has been Feely and I'm wondering just how much its playing into their troubles.

i blame gholston

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IDK, we had these problems with Nuggent too. It seems both kickers are consistent FG kickers, but maybe not great KO kickers. I can remember discussions about bring in a KO specialist to supliment Nuggents consistency with FG's because he never kicked for a touch back.

What can we do in the divisional round of the playoffs. Feely is our guy and he came up clutch last week.

While I know kickoffs were always a complaint about Nugent, it was all about distance, but I don't ever remember us giving up long returns (outside of the one and only kick I can remember him really nailing, which Hobbs took back for 108 yards in the 07 opener). Obviously there's nothing that can be done now, but its a concern considering the situation and how it once again reared its ugly head last week. It just got me thinking and it was the first time I really considered the possibility of the contributions Feely may be making to this problem, so I figured I'd see what others thought. Frankly, the Jets need to come up with something, because if they want to go further from here on out, they can not be giving up field position like that.

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There's no doubt that one of the Jets biggest Achilles' heels this season has been their special teams coverage, particularly on kickoffs. Last week it once again reared its ugly head, even if it didn't cost the Jets. I have been thinking about this, and I think there are two issues at play.

First off, the Jets have made a greater effort the past few years in building up the depth on this team, but it seems that in an effort to improve the rotational players on their base teams, they've had to sacrifice retaining and activating players with exceptional special teams abilities. Just the season the Jets traded away Jason Trusnick and then deactivated and eventually cut Ahmad Carrol, two of their best coverage players. It seems each week Mike Westhoff is left to work with whoever is out there and form them into a special teams unit, which has had unlikely characters like Danny Woodhead forced into the lineup. The talent level on that unit just isn't what it once was.

But it goes further than just that. Mike Westhoff didn't forget how to coach special teams coverages overnight and the rule changes to eliminate wedges this year should make covering kicks that much easier. Even last year before the Jets lost some of these guys there were still struggles. So the question is what else could it be?

As I said earlier, I think the difference in the Jets coverage units has been much more noticeable in the kick returns as opposed to punt. And upon thinking back, when did these problems really begin? The start of last season. Which brings me to what I believe is the other major component, as much as I like the guy, things took a turn for the worse when Feely took over as kicker. He's done a good job for this team on FGs, but since he started taking over on kickoffs the Jets have started to struggle and while its sometimes tough to judge on TV, his kicks clearly aren't always that great and think about how often you hear the announcers describe a Jets kickoff as a "low, line drive". As much as we all hated Nugent and complained about the distance of his kickoffs, the one thing he did to is put a lot of air under those things and there were typically minimal returns, and it seems like this may be a problem for Feely, as he's not allowing the coverage teams enough time to get down the field.

Of course the question becomes how do you address these issues? Do you put more emphasis back on having depth players who exceed at special teams? Do you go back to bringing in punters who can kickoff as well, as the Jets did when they had Doug Brien? I'm not sure what the answer is, but its clearly a problem, and its already cost this team at least one game this season.

Feely's kickoffs stink, but wasn't Hobbs' 108-yard return off a Nugent kick?

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Special teams performance varies a lot from year to year. The numbers bear it out, of course, but it's also just common sense. Kick coverage in particular is chaos. Minimal play design, just guys running around hitting each other. If anything, our sustained excellence over the past several years was the fluke, not our relative underperformance (emphasis on relative; we're still 6th in ST DVOA) this year. We have a great special teams coach and great special teams players and beyond that it doesn't really bear much thinking. A couple of Feely's kickoffs were really short on Sunday though.

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When I saw that Marques Murrell was inactive for the game on Saturday I immediatly thought to myself "Why? He's the best guy we have left on Special Teams" and of course the opening kickoff is brought back to the 37 yard line. I think Murrell NEEDS to be active. The game where Ted Ginn had his two TD returns on us, Murrell was inactive as well. We do miss Jason Trusnik, yes, and maybe Smith should be put back on the coverage unit as well. Losing Larry Izzo hurt, too.

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