Mike Westhoff Does Not Think Much of Steve Weatherford

PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 19: New York Jets Special Teams Coach Mike Westhoff (L) and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum talk before the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 19 2010 in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)

Jets special teams coach Mike Westhoff is seldom at a loss for words. He did not mince any in his criticism of former punter Steve Weatherford, now with the Giants.

"I was very happy in Steve with some things he did and very, very disappointed in others," Westhoff said. "To tell you the truth, I don't want to be 23rd. We're not 23rd in anything else. Wherever we are, I am trying to get better, so that's why we made the move."

"I was disappointed with some of the performances he had at the end of the year," Westhoff said. "It wasn't very good. You were there. You were up in New England. The ball went straight out (of bounds)....There were times when he just didn't do the job. I was looking to get better than what he did at that point in time. Wasn't good enough, in my opinion. It wasn't. I don't want to be 23rd in the NFL. That's where he was."

I do not find this criticism particularly fair. The yardage thing can be deceiving. Sometimes a punter has a short field and is trying to pin the other team deep. These kicks cannot by definition go far, but pinning them is valuable. Weatherford did that as frequently last season as any punter in NFL history.

The New England thing seems kind of out there to me. Yes, he shanked that punt. Yes, it was a critical play early. Still, Weatherford was hardly alone in playing miserably that night. If we are looking for culprits, Weatherford is not close to being the number one target.

There were reasons to move on. Weatherford's 2010 season looks out of context next to the rest of his career. He was also lousy in the Playoffs. Plus, the team might have felt it could save some money going with a rookie. Every dollar counts when you have as many free agents as the Jets did.

Even so, I find it difficult to square Westhoff's words with Weatherford's performance. He might have botched things up in that New England game, but the Jets quite possibly would have lost to the Steelers two weeks later without Steve's two clutch kicks to pin Pittsburgh deep.

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