Special Teams Review: Jets-Ravens
We've been breaking down this week's game against the Ravens. We wrap up today's analysis with a look at the special teams.
Let's review the key contributions...
Kicking game - Greg lays an egg
You can't really criticize the Jets' process in their continued search for a kicker. Having gone down the young-player-with-a-big-leg route previously, they went with a competition between two experienced veterans and eventually decided on Greg Zuerlein over Eddy Pineiro.
On Sunday, in his first game, Zuerlein missed two of his three kicks and had the Jets once again thinking about potentially needing to replace him. (And, of course, Pineiro made all four of his kicks including a clutch late field goal after having been picked up off the scrapheap by a team who made no real effort to address the position).
While the conditions were slippery and wet, it didn't seem like there was any issue with the snap or hold on either kick, he just shanked them. Zuerlein did handle kickoff duties well, with two touchbacks on his only kicks.
Punter Braden Mann also had a disappointing game as his 20-yard shank set up a key touchdown in the second half. While the Ravens sent an eight-man rush on this play, Mann wasn't under pressure as the Jets picked it up well.
Aside from this punt, Mann had three good ones with nets of 48, 49 and 50 yards. However his other two had a net of less than 40. He did limit the Ravens to 17 return yards, but still needs to be more consistent. Again, perhaps he gets a bit of a pass because the weather wasn't great but he's running out of excuses in year three. Mann also attempted an onside kick, which didn't even go 10 yards.
Kick coverage - Brandin Access Memories
With no kick returns and only two punt returns, there wasn't much to report in kick coverage this week. Justin Hardee got downfield and made a good hit on one return. The other saw Jeff Smith and Michael Clemons overpursuing but Thomas Hennessy got across to force the return man out of bounds.
After that, the Jets went with Brandin Echols as a primary gunner and he was impressive, having failed to stand out on special teams in the past. He got down to force a couple of fair catches and downed a punt inside the 15.
Return game - Adams right where we wanted 'em
Braxton Berrios got a few chances to return punts this week, although he was being somewhat conservative and perhaps could have attempted a return on one or two of his fair catches. You can't take fielding punts cleanly for granted in wet conditions though.
Berrios had a 17 yards punt return after the Ravens' rookie Justin Stout outkicked his coverage as the Jets double-teamed both gunners. He also had a 13 yard return as Tony Adams did a good job in the vice role. Echols got beaten though, and Berrios had to elude his man's tackle attempt.
On kickoffs, Berrios ran two back after fielding the ball in the end zone and neither proved to be a good decision. On the opening kickoff, the Jets tried to set up the exact same return that Berrios scored his touchdown on last season against the Jaguars. Ty Johnson came across and pancaked his man, but Jermaine Johnson didn't sustain his block and it was blown up short of the 25.
He returned the other one outside to the 28 behind an excellent double team block from Hardee and Lawrence Cager. However, Jacob Martin was called for a hold on the return so the Jets had to start from inside their own 10.
That wraps up today's analysis from the game, but we'll be back with more over the next few days...