Yesterday I took a look at the standouts on the Jets offense and defense in their Week 2 preseason loss to the Detroit Lions. Today, I’ll give a quick overview of how the special teams looked. There’s some encouraging growth but also some negatives that can be fixed.
Ross Martin handled the kicking duties, and didn’t really move the needle in either direction in terms of the kicking race. He went 2 for 3, hitting from 28 and 31 and missing from 56. It was an improvement on where he was last preseason, but he had a chance to give himself a real edge over Chandler Catanzaro with the 56-yarder, which had the distance but was wide left. This race will continue, but Martin stayed alive by doing his job in Detroit.
I noted Frankie Hammond as a guy with an opportunity to take over the returner race prior to the game, but he dropped the ball (pun intended) with a muffed punt that was recovered by Detroit.
Nobody really stood out at returner. Hammond, Romar Morris, and Marcus Murphy only managed 4.8 yards a return on their combined four punt returns, as there was little room to work with provided by the blockers on the punt team.
Marcus Murphy got three kickoff returns that went for an average of 23.7 yards, while Hammond had a 23 yard return. The blocking on this unit does seem better than the punt unit, and overall the kick return unit has been decent so far even if it has lacked explosion.
Safety Shamarko Thomas, formerly of the Steelers, has stood out as a special teamer as well. He’s been the highest graded Jet on special teams outside of Edwards, contributing some solid blocking in the return game.
Lachlan Edwards had an improved game. His six punts went for an average of 45.3 yards, with two ending up inside the 20. He looked far more consistent than he did in Week 1 and showed some impressive leg strength and placement.
According to Pro Football Focus, he’s had an improved start to the year, grading 19th out of 44 qualified punters.
Tanner Purdum also had one snap that was dangerously high to Edwards on a punt. It should also be noted that his snap on one of Martin’s made field goals was a bit off as well.
Not a great day here. The Jets allowed both a 43 yard kickoff return and 22 yard punt return to Detroit’s Keshawn Martin. Altogether they gave up 9.3 yards a punt return and 30.0 yards a kick return, neither awful, but both below average.
A couple bad ones. Dylan Donahue had a roughing the kicker on a Detroit punt in the 4th quarter, while Jordan Jenkins had an illegal shift on a punt in the 3rd quarter.
The special teams wasn’t as good in Detroit as it was against Tennessee, but overall there are some good things going. There doesn’t seem to be any flashy playmakers in the return game, elite kicking talent or lockdown coverage units, but they do seem faster and a bit more capable than last year and have shown some upside for improvement.
Here’s a little comparison to where they were last year.
What do you think of the progress of the special teams and how it should be handled going forward?