While Leon Washington got a lot of attention for his pair of kick return touchdowns a few weeks back, the Jets haven't missed him terribly as a returner. While Leon leads the league with a 40.2 average, Brad Smith sits third with an average of 32.3. Are these stats always definitive? Of course they are not. Jim Leonhard is ranked third in the league in punt return average, but he hasn't been very impressive. His returns are mainly the result of a lot of open space.
Smith has been legitimately good, though. Mike Westhoff's blocking schemes are doing excellent work giving him space, and he is reading these blocks, exploding through holes, and making guys miss. His 86 yarder against Minnesota set up what proved to be a critical field goal.
Denver is a team struggling to contain kickoff returns. They are giving up 27.5 per return, which is number twenty-seven in the NFL. In their opening loss, the Broncos allowed returns of 53 and 46 yard to Tiquan Underwood. This field position led to a pair of field goals. They lost by 7 and needed to go 77 yards in 1:50 in their final posession instead of just needing a field goal had those field goals not been kicked. Kyle Orton had to force it down the field and was intercepted. They also gave up a 98 yard touchdown to the Titans.
The Jets have a terrific offense. Things will be that much easier if Smith can give the team good field position off kickoffs.