Jets at Bills: Special Teams Review

We've been breaking down this week's game against Buffalo. We wrap up today's analysis with a look at the special teams.

Let's review the key contributions...

Kick coverage - Griff Little Fingers

The Jets did a lousy job in kick coverage this week, with Andre Roberts having one of his best games since he was a Jet in 2018. He had 100 return yards on five punts and one kickoff with Ryan Griffin being the only Jet to register multiple special teams tackles.

The problems began with the gunners on the punt team. With Trenton Cannon and Josh Bellamy gone, we were wondering who would fill this role and, in the opener, it was Ashtyn Davis and Arthur Maulet.

Davis was credited with one tackle and Maulet beat his man twice to draw a facemask penalty and force a fair catch. However, they each did a poor job of breaking down in space and overpursued or missed tackles a handful of times between them.

Expect Jeff Smith or Vyncint Smith (and maybe both) to take over these roles when they return.

At the second level, Neville Hewitt and Matthias Farley both had key tackles to prevent much longer returns and Tarell Basham made the best play of the day when he forced Roberts to reverse his field and then tracked him down for a loss. Farley and Basham each also missed a tackle though.

Frankie Luvu, Blake Cashman and Thomas Hennessy were also each officially credited with a special teams tackle.

Kicking game - Missile Impossible

While Mekhi Becton got all the attention, the rookie debut Jets fans were truly looking forward to was that of punter Braden Mann. Unfortunately, due to some of the issues noted above, his numbers weren't as good as you'd hope to see.

His net average was just under 47, with his first punt being his longest at 58 yards. That one arguably saw him outkick his coverage because Roberts was basically untouched on a 16-yard return. The next one was shorter with much better hang time but was still returned 10 yards.

Mann's directional accuracy was pretty good as he landed two kicks inside the 20 (including one inside the 10) but again these were both returned for solid yardage. His final punt was, perhaps tellingly, only 37 yards as he kicked high to limit any possible return and Roberts took a fair catch.

As for kicker Sam Ficken, many Jets fans are amazed that he retained his job but he had a decent day. He made a 31-yard field goal and both extra points.

Ficken's onside kick at the end wasn't very good but these days your chances of success on such a play are very slim anyway. It wasn't even certain whether Ficken or Mann would be tasked kicking off and we had to wait until the second half for our answer. Despite having to use a holder due to the windy conditions Ficken had one touchback and one kick down to the one-yard line.

Harvey Langi, who served as the holder on those kickoffs, was responsible for allowing pressure on one of Mann's punts.

Return game - Ash and Burn

The Jets didn't get much out of their return game this week, as their two kickoff returns ended up with them starting from the nine and 14-yard line respectively and Braxton Berrios took a fair catch on the only Bills punt.

The freshly-elevated Josh Malone returned the opening kickoff and eluded a couple of tacklers to get out near the 30, but only after Daniel Brown had been beaten and shoved his man in the back so the Jets began their first possession from inside their own 10-yard line.

The rookie Davis also got a chance to return one but made the ill-advised decision to try and hurdle a defender and was upended inside the 15. He's lucky he wasn't badly hurt.

Davis was actually down before he lost the ball but kudos to Josh Adams for coming up with the fumble anyway.

One final nitpick on the Berrios fair catch is that he had no choice because Nate Hairston was burned by the gunner. Going back to last year, this seems to happen to Hairston every single time they put him in the vice role. He just can't seem to handle it.