During the week, Jets special teams coordinator Bobby April vowed that there would be changes on the unit. Whatever the changes were, they seemed to work. What were the changes, though? It's not immediately apparent.
There were no lineup changes other than the fact that Kenbrell Thompkins was deactivated for Darrelle Revis. And it's not like Thompkins was involved in any of the breakdowns last week. I didn't see any other obvious personnel changes, so maybe they did something subtle with their scheme.
The performance on the kickoff coverage unit stood out. On seven kickoffs, Randy Bullock had four touchbacks and the Jets stopped the Titans inside the 20 on the other three. On those plays, Quincy Enunwa in particular was doing an excellent job of getting downfield.
Devin Smith, Dee Milliner, Ronald Martin and Rontez Miles also contributed. Smith had been starting to showcase his athleticism on special teams and this week showed progress by breaking down and getting in on the tackle rather than over-running the play. That's another reason why the timing of his injury hurts.
The Jets didn't give up any yards on punt returns, either, with Darrin Walls getting downfield to make a great play on Tennessee's only return. Ryan Quigley only had to punt three times, landing one out of bounds at the 10 and almost putting another inside the five, but Walls was fooled by the bounce and it ended up being a touchback.
In terms of negatives, Bullock shanked a long field goal attempt, although he did make his other six kicks, the longest of which was a 47-yarder. Also, one of Quigley's punts was almost blocked as Jamari Lattimore released his block too early and left Miles trying to block two guys. Dexter McDougle also got burned by the gunner on one punt.
The Jets also had an extra point blocked, although the defender was well offside so that was negated. I was surprised the team didn't opt to put the ball at the one-yard line and try to punch it in for two.
On returns, Antonio Cromartie opted to take a knee rather than return kicks from the end zone. It's strange that he is more prepared to do that than Zac Stacy, for whom reaching the 20-yard line would have constituted a successful play by his standards.
On punt returns, Jeremy Kerley made the first man miss a couple of times before getting hurt and being replaced by Eric Decker. Decker had one decent return but seemed content to take a fair catch in the second half.
For once, the special teams unit made good contributions, but let's see if these changes -- whatever they were -- continue to pay off over the remainder of the season before we sign off on April returning.
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