Special Teams Review: Jets-Chargers

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

Let's review the key contributions...

Kicking game - Mor haste, less speed

The man of the moment after last week was punter Thomas Morstead, with the Jets' official twitter account sharing memes and featuring him prominently in their bio. He was even the first player announced out of the tunnel. Unfortunately, the first time he stepped on the field everything went horribly wrong.

Morstead opened with his longest punt of the day, a 59-yarder, which gave the dangerous Derius Davis plenty of room to accelerate up to speed for an 87-yard touchdown. Is this completely down to Morstead outkicking his coverage? No - more on that below - but it was still partly to blame.

In person, Morstead's punts are high and impressive, with nearly all of them being tight spirals. Most of his other punts were good as he had four fair caught and one muffed. Three of these were over 50 yards, one was a 49-yarder and one was from the Chargers 45 to their 12.

His only other negative outcome was a 52-yard punt with a 17-yard return, but obviously the long return early tanked his numbers this week.

After his all-world performance against the Giants was a modest 61 grade, he actually had his fourth best grade of the season in this game (67). Go figure.

Morstead had to deal with another low Thomas Hennessy snap on one punt and heavy pressure from a defender who slipped through a gap between Sam Eguavoen and Jeremy Ruckert on the line on another.

Kicker Greg Zuerlein had an uneventful day with touchbacks on all three of his kickoffs and two successful field goals.

Kick coverage - Missing Justin

When considering whether Morstead outkicked his coverage this week, it's relevant to account for the fact that Justin Hardee remains on injured reserve. Hardee is obviously one of the best gunners in the league at consistently getting downfield fast and breaking down once he gets there.

Any adjustment Morstead has been making to Hardee being absent was perhaps tweaked again with the impressive Irv Charles back in one of the primary gunner roles. However, on the touchdown, Charles crucially stumbled as he was slowed up by the vice, which meant he got downfield later than he otherwise would have and seemed to panic and was unable to break down in time. Davis side-stepped him and then was on his way.

The Jets still could have stopped him with the second wave but the seas parted when Hennessy missed the crucial tackle with CJ Uzomah and Morstead himself both also coming up too fast to break down.

Brandin Echols was credited with a tackle on the play where Davis fumbled his attempted catch. Echols ran past him and touched him down rather than being alert to the possibility of a recovery. He also forced two fair catches and Charles forced one by beating their man.

On the 17-yard runback, Charles and Ashtyn Davis were blocked off to spring Davis as Echols this time came up too fast to break down. Jamien Sherwood was credited with the tackle as the return man stepped out of bounds.

Return game - X-asperating

The Jets only managed eight return yards this week as Xavier Gipson took a total of four fair catches, left four kickoffs to go for a touchback and was stopped twice for no gain on punts.

He allowed three punts to bounce - one that ended up rolling for extra yardage and ended up as a 54-yarder, one that was a touchback after he faked like he was going to fair catch it and one that he fielded off the bounce but immediately went out of bounds. The Jets would hope for more when getting teams to punt so often, but not forcing turnovers.

Gipson didn't exactly look confident under the ball, although he came up well to make a diving fair catch on a short punt. That was a little risky though.

On the lone return he had that netted any positive yardage it initially seemed like he had some decent room after Echols did well to slow up the gunner on that side but it soon evaporated as Eguavoen was engulfed by multiple Chargers players and understandably not able block them all.

On one return he was blown up as both vices (Echols and Bryce Hall) were beaten, leaving Davis with two men to block. The same thing happened on one of the fair catches too. Presumably the hope there was that at least one of the vices would do their job and then Davis can spring the other's man for a return.


We'll be back with the AFR and the 3-on-D and 3-on-O over the next few days...