Finishing up our Sunday six pack series, we take a look at the New York Jets special teams and a few concerns surrounding it. If you missed the earlier articles, here is the offensive and defensive version.
1. The New York Jets have been a mess at punt returner the last couple of seasons. We are big Jeremy Kerley fans here at TOJ but as a punt returner, he is too inconsistent and conservative. The problem is outside of Kerley, who else is going to step up and compete for the job? Joe McKnight has struggled as a punt returner in limited opportunities. Kyle Wilson has never been impressive back there. This will be a spot where a UDFA will have a chance to make an impression and stick on the roster. None of the Jets UDFA wide receivers have any experience returning punts but if they flash good enough hands, they could get chances in the pre-season. Also keep an eye on Mike Edwards, a UDFA cornerback from Hawaii. He didn’t return punts in college but was a very good kick returner so he could get a shot there as well.
2. Kick returners are easier to find. If Joe McKnight sticks on the final 53, he’ll keep the job. However, if he doesn’t Mike Goodson (pending legal availability), Clyde Gates (if he makes the team) or the previously mentioned Edwards could all be in the mix.
3. Robert Malone and Nick Folk were both quietly very good last year at punter and kicker, respectively. Unless there is an injury, I don’t expect either of the camp legs (Brett Maher or Ryan Quigley) to push them. With a roster filled with question marks, it is good to have some stability at these positions.
4. Muhammad WIlkerson blocked a field goal against the Titans last year and I would bet that won’t be the last time you see that occurring. With his size and upfield burst, he should be a real weapon in those situations. Beyond that, look for rookie Sheldon Richardson to be a potential threat there as well. He has unique speed off the ball and ability to split defenders. Wilkerson, Richardson and Quinton Coples are going to be a handful for opposing offenses, there is no reason they can’t be a handful for opposing kickers/special teams units as well.
5. The Jets coverage units were inconsistent at best last season. They badly need a few players to distinguish themselves as core special teams players, particularly with Eric Smith and Chaz Schilens now gone. You may laugh at that initial comment but Smith was always a valuable special teamer and Schilens played on just about every unit last year. It will help to have Josh Mauga back from injury and maybe a guy like Jaiquawn Jarrett can step up. This will be another area where UDFAs will need to make an impact.
6. Who will be personal protector next year with no TEEE-BOWWW around? I’d keep an eye on Tommy Bohanon, Mauga or maybe Nick Bellore.