Saints at Jets: In-depth analysis - Special Teams

We've been breaking down the third preseason game. Earlier, we broke down the offense and defense. Now we wrap up with a look at the special teams.

Let's review the key contributions...

Kick coverage - Prince Albert

First of all, we need to investigate what went wrong on the 79-yard punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. While there were a lot of backups on the field, there were still a few players who will be expected to play special teams during the season:


The first obvious issue is that Tevaughn Campbell beats his man down the field and is in prime position to blow it up, but instead seems to back off at the last moment.

This suggests that either Campbell was assuming it was a fair catch or lacks confidence in his own ability to make the tackle and was therefore fearful that there'd be a lane to the outside. Another possibility is that his natural instinct took over from when he was playing in Canada. Under CFL rules, you have to give the return man five yards of space to field a punt under the "no-yards rule".

Whatever the reason, this leaves a lane up the middle, with some of the defenders who failed to make the tackle perhaps switching off, making the assumption that Campbell would make the play.

Tarell Basham misses the first tackle as Arthur Maulet, Godwin Igwebuike and Doug Middleton all basically overpursue. Number 55 is Stephone Anthony, playing his first game as a Jet, whose missed tackle releases the return man into the clear, from where he easily dusts punter Matt Darr.

After getting last week off, Charone Peake and Trenton Cannon were back onto gunner duties and each had two special teams tackles, although Peake's actually came on a kick-off and a free kick. Josh Bellamy and Deonte Thompson each also got downfield well in that role to force a fair catch and Maulet downed a punt at the 10.

Other than Cannon, the player who impressed the most at getting downfield was new signing Albert McClellan, who missed a tackle but slowed up the return man on one play and forced a fumble on another. Dee Delaney chased down the return man as he retrieved the ball to blow that one up.

Campbell, Thomas Hennessy, Blake Cashman, Harvey Langi and Neville Hewitt were all in on tackles in coverage but Langi overpursued on one return and Middleton had a missed tackle.

Cannon, Cashman and Campbell all also drew penalties.

Return game - The passing of the Dortch

Greg Dortch remains as the first choice punt returner and he looked really good on this return, only for Bellamy's needless unnecessary roughness penalty at the end of the play to dilute the gain. Still, some nice moves from Dortch here:


Tim White also got a chance to return one, breaking one tackle on an 11-yard return. Holmes also confidently fielded one, but his 11-yard return was negated by a hold.

The punt returners weren't helped by their vices, who were consistently getting beaten by the gunners. Thompson, Maulet, Brian Poole, and Deontay Burnett were all guilty of this.

On kick returns, Cannon, Thompson and Holmes got one return each and nobody even made it back to the 20-yard line.

The blocking was poor with McClellan, Basham, Middleton, Peake and Ryan Griffin all guilty of missed blocks. Griffin, Thompson and Maulet were called for penalties.

Kicking game - The Bert Locker

Before the game, Joe Douglas said it was a big game for Taylor Bertolet and that would prove prophetic after he impressively nailed 48 and 56-yard field goals. Perhaps he has a chance to win the job after all.

There was some speculation during the week that Darr is putting Lachlan Edwards under pressure for the punter job after Darr got to work with the top units last week, but Edwards has continued to serve as the holder on field goals and extra points and this week was back in the starting role.

Darr got a lucky bounce on one punt that rolled down near the 10-yard line after a low snap but had another one returned for a touchdown, destroying his net average. Edwards was under pressure a couple of times and put one down to the 10-yard line.

McClellan allowed pressure on one of Edwards' punts.

That's it for this week's game. If you'd like us to cover anything in more detail during the week, please let us know.