The other day I posted the totals for Jets special teams tackles in 2019.
One thing that jumped out at me was that long snapper Thomas Hennessy had 4 tackles in punt coverage. A long snapper isn’t really put on the field to make tackles so that seemed pretty high. Still I had no context to know how many tackles the typical long snapper compiles.
Of course this is 2020 so you can find information for practically anything on the web. Sure enough I found a website that actually specializes in studying long snappers.
Hennessy’s 4 tackles indeed led NFL long snappers in 2019. Going a little deeper, Hennessy also had 3 tackles in 2018. He and Tennessee’s Beau Brinkley are the only long snappers with back to back 3 tackle seasons. Going deeper still, Hennessy also had 3 tackles in 2017. He is the only long snapper in the NFL who has at least 3 tackles in the last 3 seasons.
Back in 2017 it was a bit of a surprise when the Jets kept Hennessy on the roster over longtime incumbent Tanner Purdum. Purdum was a perfectly capable long snapper.
Todd Bowles explained the decision at the time.
Tanner (Purdum) has been here a long time. I have a lot of respect for Tanner, but we went with the younger guy who’s probably a better cover guy down the field.
This was one of the few times during his tenure when Bowles offered genuine insight into the team’s thought process on a major decision. It also seems like an accurate evaluation in retrospect. Perhaps his ability in this area played into the Jets’ decision to sign Hennessy to a four year contract extension back in October.
Mind you we are not talking about major impact here. Hennessy chips in a tackle once every month to month and a half. Still this is a higher rate than virtually any other long snapper in the league. This offers the Jets an advantage even it is quite marginal.