The Jets recently signed punter Ty Long to their practice squad, primarily because Braden Mann is dealing with a back injury. Today, we break down Long in detail, as he could be called into action.
The 29-year old is listed at 6’2” and 205 pounds and was a sixth round pick back in 2012. He made his NFL debut in 2019 with the Chargers and has been their punter for the past three seasons. Prior to that, he played in the CFL.
Long was a two-star kicker and punter prospect coming out of high school and opted to attend UAB where he won the kicker job as a freshman. He retained that role for four years, but never punted. During that time, he was an honorable mention all-Conference USA selection in each of his four seasons.
At the end of his college career, Long tried to make the NFL as a kicker and signed for Washington as an undrafted free agent. He played for them in preseason, making three extra points and kicking off six times, but was released in final cuts.
In 2016, Long signed a futures deal with the Steelers but was cut before camp, so he headed to the CFL instead and joined the BC Lions in 2017. Over the next two years, he was a CFL all-star twice as he took on kicking and punting duties for the Lions. He made 88 percent of his field goal attempts and had a gross punting average of over 48 over the two seasons.
In 2019, Long came back to the NFL to try and make it as a punter instead and he signed with the Chargers and won their starting punter job. However, he also ended up kicking for them for a short while due to an early season injury to Michael Badgley.
He was 5th in the NFL with a gross average of 47 yards per punt and made 16 of 18 kicks in his first year with the Chargers, but his average dropped off over the past two years. His net average did improve from 2020 to 2021 though.
Long signed with the Jets’ practice squad earlier this week having not been with a team during the offseason.
Let’s move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Long brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Long is bigger than Mann and profiles similarly as an athlete. He reportedly runs a 4.87 in the 40-yard dash, which is just four hundredths slower than Mann’s combine time.
Long is pretty consistent with getting good distance on his punts. He had one 75-yarder in Canada and a 69-yarder last season.
As a kicker, he’s had some success from beyond 50 yards with a school record 54-yarder in college. Also, when kicking off, he has had a 60 percent touchback rate at the NFL level.
Long’s percentages for putting the ball inside the 20 are not that impressive, but he’s only had seven touchbacks in three seasons. However, he shows some excellent accuracy at times.
There may be signs that he outkicks his coverage from time to time as he led the league in total return yardage by a wide margin in 2020. Mann was actually in second place and he was also a long way ahead of the next worst in this category.
Long was much better in this category in 2021, as the yards per return dropped dramatically to 7.6 having been over 13 for his first two years.
As a kicker, Long’s percentages have been pretty good although he has only had a few chances to make clutch kicks with a game on the line. However, he showed in 2019 that he can fill in when the need arises in an emergency.
He’s pretty reliable on short field goals, with just four missed extra points in his college career. He did miss six in his first year in Canada, but only one in his second season. He made 77 percent of his field goals in college and improved this to 88 percent in Canada.
Long didn’t kick off in 2021, but did in 2019 and 2020, so he could handle this role if necessary.
Long has made some contributions as a tackler with seven tackles in his college career and four at the NFL level. He’s missed a couple on big returns, though.
Long obviously wasn’t able to be the holder when he was pulling double duties, but has been holding over the past few years on a regular basis without issue.
One concern about Long is that he had a league-high three punts blocked in 2020, plus another one last year. Some of this was attributed to a lack of awareness.
While Long probably isn’t much of a threat to run a fake punt with, they did get him to run out of the end zone for a 28-yard loss to help run out of the clock in a 2020 win over the Jets. They also got him to throw a pass last year on a play that was memorably broken up by Hunter Renfrow.
He is a former teammate of current Jet Dan Feeney.
In Sunday’s season opener, Mann had a horrible 20-yard shank and the Jets immediately worked out a handful of punters which led to speculation that the Jets might be losing patience with the former sixth-round pick.
That may be true on some level, but Mann was listed on the injury report this week and has been limited with a back injury. Therefore, it seems most likely that Long has been brought in as short term cover and just to share the workload in practice. If he doesn’t get a chance to play, Long could remain on the practice squad for a few weeks until the Jets are satisfied that Mann is back to 100 percent though.
With Long having had some success as a placekicker too, you could potentially extend that thinking to the potential for him to replace Greg Zuerlein, should the veteran’s own opening day struggles repeat themselves. Zuerlein missed a field goal and an extra point against the Ravens.
In this instance, it seems unlikely that Long would be a candidate to take that role even if Zuerlein did continue to have issues that ultimately cost him his job. No doubt Long will do everything he can to impress the coaching staff with his versatility though.
Ultimately, the Jets probably remain content with Mann and Zuerlein, although they were likely put on notice after the Ravens game. Perhaps this Long move will provide added motivation, even if it is just a precautionary one at this point.