Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
You have to feel sorry for Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan. After the special teams unit was a liability last year and probably contributed to at least a couple of losses, the team did everything they possibly could to upgrade the special teams units. They specifically targeted special teams standouts from other teams and retained those players over others that had upside or more chance of making offensive and defensive contributions. They even replaced the coach and upgraded at a few key positions, including using a draft pick on a punter.
Every contingency was covered apart from the one element of their special teams unit that the team had always been able to rely upon in the past; the kicking game. In fact, retaining Nick Folk was further evidence that special teams were viewed as a high priority because while he beat out Ross Martin on merit, a previous regime might have been prepared to risk some rookie growing pains to save some money.
While the rest of the special teams unit floundered, Folk was perennially lights out, unless it was late in the season. He'd never missed a field goal at home in September with the Jets…until yesterday. He'd also never missed an extra point in his entire career. Again, until yesterday. Unfortunately, he couldn't have picked a worse game in which to do either of these things, let alone both.
Maybe Folk wasn't completely to blame. As I've already written, a couple of the misses Martin had in preseason had me wondering if there's an issue with Lachlan Edwards as the holder. While I haven't seen anything specific - and Folk refused to blame anyone but himself after the game - Mike Westhoff's preseason comments that sometimes this is something Australian punters struggle to get to grips with continue to resonate. Maybe Edwards doesn't realize that you're not supposed to rotate the ball counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere.
Another issue was that Brent Qvale got completely blown up on the blocked field goal, as that side of the line caved in and he ended up on his backside. While the rotation on offense might have been a positive way of ensuring Qvale maintained his focus by restricting him to shorter bursts of activity, he must also ensure he retains his focus on special teams, which in the past might have been the only action he saw all day.
However, the main thing nobody is talking out and which all Jets fans should be outraged over is the fact the Bengals blatantly had a defensive player shading the center at the snap on the blocked field goal. As Jets fans might recall from the push-gate sequel, if you don't have your entire body outside the long snapper's shoulder pads at the snap that's an illegal formation penalty, which would have given the Jets a second chance at the kick or 4th-and-goal on the one yard line and a real chance to go 14-0 up.
To make matters worse, the Jets were called for the same penalty on the field goal just before halftime. Just when you thought every "what if?" from this game had been done to death, BGA hits you with this one.
The rest of that upgraded special teams unit did live up to expectations, especially Jalin Marshall, who had a sensational kick-off return and almost broke a couple of others. He still looks a little shaky handling punts, but is definitely going to produce some exciting moments this year.
On that long return, Lawrence Thomas, Brandon Bostick and Antonio Allen all made key blocks. Bostick and Allen each missed a key block later on but Thomas had a tremendous hit on the kick coverage unit. Rontez Miles and Josh Martin also made good tackles on that unit and Juston Burris and Quincy Enunwa made some good contributions in punt coverage.
On the negative side, Martin and Buster Skrine each had special teams penalties, Marcus Williams got burned by the gunner on one punt and Enunwa and Erin Henderson had missed tackles.
Finally, aside from his involvement in the missed kicks, Edwards had a fine debut as the punter, landing two kicks inside the 10-yard line.
Next up…Our final wrap-up, giving you the links to all today's articles, giving you the opportunity to read or re-read the whole thing in one go…