The title of this article notwithstanding, the Mike Westhoff ship has sailed. He's not coming back. He's good at what he does now, in a nice cushy analyst job for SNY. Westhoff is 68 years old. He's been out of the NFL since the end of the 2012 season. He's not coming back. But boy do the Jets need him.
In his time Mike Westhoff was the best special teams coach in the NFL. The Jets annually had top special teams under Westhoff. Now the Jets annually have terrible special teams.
One of the things that struck me on Sunday watching my beloved New York Jets get beat by the New England Patriots was the blocked field goal attempt of Nick Folk in the second quarter. I thought to myself as I sank into the comfort of yet another futile day watching this dismal team, why don't the Jets ever do that? It seemed like a long time since the Jets had blocked a kick, and that got me curious. When exactly was the last time the Jets blocked a kick? So I thought to myself, I have a computer thingamabob, I can say OK Google. I can do this! So I looked it up. MVP moment for me right there. And do you know what I found? The last season the Jets had a blocked kick was ... 2012. Perhaps not coincidentally that was the last season Mike Westhoff worked for the Jets. That seemed like too long a time, but I thought to myself as I savored the bitter taste of wallowing in another Jets defeat, maybe plenty of other teams haven't blocked a kick since then too. I mean, it's not exactly a common event, right?
So I looked it up. Well, OK, technically Google looked it up. But I said OK Google, so yay me! And do you know what I found? Since 2012 only one other NFL team has failed to block a kick, the Washington Redskins. That's not such a good look for the Jets. Well, I thought to myself as I festered in my growing resentment of my childhood self for choosing the Jets as my team without clearly thinking through the grave ramifications of such a decision (note to my adult self: sue my childhood self for negligent infliction of emotional distress), but I digress. Well, I thought to myself, how about punts then? So Google looked it up while I pondered the existential angst of attaching myself like a carbunkle to the hull of a rudderless ship like the Jets. And do you know what Google found? The Jets haven't blocked a punt since 2013. As it turns out no other team in the NFL has gone the last three years without blocking a kick or a punt. Only the New York Jets. Apparently the Jets have the best manners of any team in the NFL and would never dream of such a rude thing as trying to block an innocent opponent's good faith try to score some points. Classy. Google looked up some more stuff while I reveled in the awesome power of having my own personal information superhighway butler hop to it at my every OK Google command. This must be how the Pharaohs felt! Do you know what Google found? Six teams have blocked a kick and/or punt every year for the last three years. One team, the Baltimore Ravens, has blocked a kick and a punt in each of the last three years. Twenty seven teams have blocked a kick and/or punt in at least two of the last three years.
And then there's the Jets. Alone among NFL teams with zero blocked kicks, zero blocked punts since 2013. Blocks are hardly the end all and be all of special teams. But they are game changing plays. Pick up one or two per year and you probably change the outcomes of some games the last three years. In addition, standing alone in blocks futility is symptomatic of a larger problem, even if it indicates an admirable independent streak. Such lovable rogues these Jets. Since 2012 the Jets have been anywhere from mediocre to horrible in kick returns, punt returns, kick coverage, and punt coverage. In short, the only thing that's been special about the Jets special teams is they have been especially bad.
Mike Westhoff isn't coming back. There will be no returning hero riding into town to save the day. But as I become mired in a loss induced torpor and watch the Jets special teams fail to do what every other team in the NFL occasionally does, and wonder why my team can't get a game changing play once in a while, I can't help but feel a little wistful about when Jets special teams were special in a good way.