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A ‘Special’ Saturday Radar Entry

Posted by Randy Lange on September 8, 2007 – 10:51 am

For all the fans who know a wedge doesn’t always come with blue cheese dressing, what a good hang time for a kickoff is, and that there’s a difference between a dropkick and a drop punt, this day’s for you.

Special Teams Saturday.

We hear it all the time from the NFL’s coaches and players — "Special teams is one-third of the game" — but the mainstream media rarely pays attention, unless it’s to a placekicker on a hot streak or a cold streak or a returner who can’t be stopped or can’t stop with the muffs. At newyorkjets.com, we’re going to cover the Jets’ more closely with one story a week (if not more) devoted to the art(s) of coach Mike Westhoff’s specialists.

Already up on the site today, for instance, Eric Allen introduces the concept that the Jets are winners no matter who takes the opening coin toss, now that Pro Bowl kickoff returner Justin Miller is back at practice and Mike Nugent has beefed up his kickoffs.

And while my Saturday Radar entry won’t always be devoted to special teams, I didn’t want to reject a great little topic heading into Sunday’s season opener against the Patriots: the Jets’ kick-blocking potential. That’s something that Bill Belichick has noticed.

"They do a good job in every phase of the game," the Patriots head coach said when asked about the Jets’ special teams. "Their field goal rush is one of the best in the league. They got up on that last year and that was a big play in the [first] game."

Belichick has been known to praise every phase of an opponent’s attack during his Wednesday conference calls, but he has good reason for making this observation as he referred to Bryan Thomas busting through the right side of the Patriots’ line to block a late Stephen Gostkowski field goal try in Game 2 in the Meadowlands. The short field goal would have iced the Pats’ win. Instead, the Jets retained hope of tying the game with a last-minute touchdown.

"To go in there and block a kick — it’s always exciting," Thomas said this week. "Mike will tell us each week what in particular we have to do as far as whether we can be effective on field goal block. Field goals, extra points, they all matter in a game."

But the Jets’ rush as one of the best in the league? Bear in mind that Thomas’ block was the only blocked kick of any kind by the Green & White in the past four regular seasons. Here’s a chart showing the Jets vs. the NFL in that department from 2003-06:

  Blocked …  Punts  FGs  PATs Total  
  NFL 53 82 25 160  
  Avg. per Team 1.7 2.6 0.8 5.0  
  Jets 0 1 0 1  

And the Jets didn’t get any blocks in their four preseason games this year.

But they came close. In fact, the field goal block team put great pressure on the normally smooth operations of the David Akers-led Philadelphia FG team back on Aug. 31. Akers’ first try never got off, and on the second try it appeared he pushed his kick wide right because of heavy pressure from his left.

"Yeah, we were trying to get after him," said Drew Coleman, the second-year man who’s been flying off the edge this preseason. "We’re trying to get a lot of pressure and have other special teams coaches have to prepare for us, not think that their next kick is a freebie."

Coleman came to the Jets last year from TCU, where, besides playing corner, he came up with some kick rejections.

"I think I had two in college — and I ran past two more. I had too big of a jump on those," he said. "Blocking kicks is something I’ve always enjoyed doing, so I take it seriously."

Coincidentally, Coleman still wears uniform number 30. And back in the day when sportswriters used to use typewriters to type up their stories on copy paper, we would put the number 30, probably from XXX, at the bottom of those stories to signify to their editors "That’s it. I’m done. End of story."

I’m looking forward this season to seeing Drew, BT and company telling a few opposing kickers and punters, "That’s it. You’re done. End of story." And now I’m putting a 30 on this edition of Special Teams Saturday.

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Posted in Randy Lange | 7 Comments »

7 Responses to “A ‘Special’ Saturday Radar Entry”

  1. By njphones on Sep 8, 2007 | Reply

    The following is a “Special Saturday Comment” by NJPhones:
    Ha-ha, just kidding. Seriously though, I hope Mike Westhoff’s health improves-he’s a gifted coach. We will miss him on the sidelines, but I am sure his special teams will be well prepared. They may be a big factor on Sunday.
    GO JETS!!!

  2. By Ira on Sep 8, 2007 | Reply

    Randy, Great Radar Report. ST’s i feel will be the difference in tomorrows game. Drew will get one this year. He has come so close so many times. The stat chart is surprising. Maybe Drew blocks one tomorrow and Revis takes it to the house. Randy, were Henderson-Mickens the last ones to do it?

  3. By Randy Lange on Sep 8, 2007 | Reply

    Ira, the last time the Jets had a blocked-punt return for a TD was in the 2001 regular-season finale at Oakland, Chris Hayes blocking Shane Lechler and Jason Glenn returning 4 yards. The last FG-block TD also came vs. the Raiders, in 1997, Corwin Brown rejecting Cole Ford and Ray Mickens going 72 yards for the score.

  4. By Ira on Sep 8, 2007 | Reply

    Randy, Thanks for the info. Totally forgot about Glenn’s TD in 01. Guess what sticks in my mind is Hall’s winning FG. Mickens TD in 97 was great vs the Raiders. The stadium went wild as he was returning that blocked FG for a score.

  5. By Justin on Sep 8, 2007 | Reply

    Randy, great post, thanks to all the articles that you’ve writen and all the information in them i feel confident in our team this year, especially again on the offensive side and defensive side of the special teams, so thanks. But i’m wondering whens the last time the jets returned a Punt for a TD?

  6. By Randy Lange on Sep 8, 2007 | Reply

    Justin, Santana Moss has the last three Jets punt-return TDs — vs. Cleveland and at San Diego in 2002 and at Pittsburgh in the 2004 playoffs.

  7. By Mr. green T on Sep 9, 2007 | Reply

    “Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve.”
    – Sun Tzu

    Go Jets!

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