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Cole, Coleman Need To Fly on Sunday

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STS*: Cole, Coleman Need to Fly on Sunday

Posted by nickgallo on October 2, 2010 – 1:23 pm

Gunners or flyers are the two players split out wide on the punt coverage team that are charged with getting downfield quickly and attacking the punt returners. And for the Jets and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, cornerbacks Drew Coleman and Marquice Cole have hemmed in the opposition so far this season.

“They’ve both done fairly well,” Westhoff said. “Drew made an incredible play against New England, a great play against the Patriots. He beat their double and went down and made a tackle for minus-1. Marquice has done a nice job also.”

Typically the Jets’ flyers (the term Westhoff prefers) are facing one or two members of the opposing punt return team who are attempting to keep them from getting downfield. It’s up to the flyers to make their men miss and try to keep the returner from doing much more than calling for a fair catch. To prepare them for their jobs, Westhoff enlists the help of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, before his hamstring situation, and Antonio Cromartie to try to tie up Coleman and Cole.

“At the flyer Westhoff makes sure we’re going against Revis and Cromartie,” Coleman said. “You know those guys are great with their hands and their feet and getting their hands on guys. So he wanted us to go against those guys and Lowery every day in practice, giving us great looks. Sticking those guys out there, going against those guys is just making it easier for us during the game. So we try to give a harder look in practice than we do in the game so it’ll be a little easier for us.”

With two players trying to jam the flyer at the line of scrimmage, strength is key. What’s more important, however, is the technique, quickness and instinctual ability of the players to get off quickly at the snap and make their opposition miss. In fact, so far this season the Jets have punted 14 times, with four resulting in fair catches and seven returns averaging 7.0 yards.

Cole was unequivocal about the reason he and Coleman have been successful.

“Speed, a lot of speed,” he said. “You have two guys out there so your initial move has to be enough to get one of them off balance. At least then you can work on the other. Or you just attack the one that’s off balance. More than anything I think it’s just that initial move, that initial speed off the ball. You get a quick release and then it’s easy because they’re trailing and the most they can do is just clip you so that initial release is key.”

Sunday at Buffalo, the Jets will go up against dangerous return man Roscoe Parrish, who has breakaway speed. He’s averaging only 6.6 yards on five returns so far this season but has three punt-return touchdowns during his career.

Westhoff will need both Coleman and Cole to do their jobs with precision to win the field position battle, but with Revis unable to play in Buffalo, Coleman will be in the mix in the base defense. Head coach Rex Ryan said that even if Coleman starts, he will still be a major factor on special teams.

“He’ll be on all of them,” Ryan said. “We kind of look at it like with Eric Smith, that he’s so valuable on those special teams that if he’s going to get a break, he’s getting a break on defense, not on teams. You’re a starter on those things. Coleman does a tremendous job. He and Cole both do a great job on teams.”

While Coleman will still be utilized, Westhoff said that because of his role on defense, Coleman might skip a few snaps on special teams in lieu of wide receiver David Clowney, whose much-heralded speed should be on display. Clowney had previously been in the mix for the job during training camp and will once again get a chance to show he can get downfield and make plays.

Coleman, however, will be ready for action.

“I still have been doing it in practice,” Coleman said. “It’s just a matter of how I’m feeling, how much I’m chasing the receivers and what not. I would love to keep doing it. I enjoy doing it. Just being out there, fighting the guys off and trying to get off presses is definitely a challenge to us. Hopefully I’m out there, but if I’m not, then I’ll be in Mike’s ear asking if he needs me so he knows I’m there for him and Mike knows he can call on me if he really needs me.”

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