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STS*: Punting, Penalties, Field Position

Posted by Nick Gallo on January 22, 2011 – 11:59 am

During the regular season, punter Steve Weatherford led the NFL in punts inside the 20 and inside the 10, but in the past two playoff games he’s registered more touchbacks than he did throughout the entire 16-game season. Particularly against New England Weatherford was frustrated by his own performance, trying to pin the Patriots inside their own 2-yard line instead of going for safer kicks.

“It’s great to finish the regular season No. 1 in numerous categories, so that feels good,” Weatherford said. “But at the same time, the game against New England, I can’t wait to play the next game. I was thrilled to win that game but at the same time disappointed with getting touchbacks because that’s the worst thing. In my mind that’s the worst thing I can do.”

The last time the Jets played the Steelers was in Week 15, when Weatherford dropped three of his four punts inside the 20 and even had one downed at the 2, which quickly led to Jason Taylor’s game-changing safety. That play put the Green & White up, 22-17, meaning the Steelers needed a touchdown to win instead of a field goal to tie.

Weatherford noted that he’s going into this game with the same strategy that he did last time he went to Heinz Field, not the one he took to Foxboro.

“I’m looking for fair catches at the 7, the 8, the 5,” he said. “I’m not going to try to put it at the 1 every time. Earlier in the year I didn’t try to do that, I tried to get the ball down there with good hangtime so ‘Quice [Marquice Cole] could make a play on it. Last week I was just getting greedy. I was just trying to make a huge play for the team. Sometimes the ball doesn’t bounce backwards like you want it to.”

The doctor of special teams, coordinator Mike Westhoff, studied the New England video and realized why Weatherford was a bit off the mark in the divisional round.

“We noticed that he was gaining a little ground, overstriding a little bit,” Westhoff said. “When you do that, sometimes at the last second, in order to not fall down, you fall back a little bit. That tends to put the ball lower and now you drive it so instead of hitting a soft wedge in, you’re hitting an 8-iron, and that’s exactly what he did. What we did is just like any other position, just like you’re a quarterback. You analyze the fundamentals and you go back and you break down the fundamentals and get them back to it.”

The fifth-year Illinois product will need to be on point in this game, which will certainly be decided by field position. Every inch will be fought for, which is good for the Jets because on special teams they’ve been especially good at making every yard count. In fact, the Jets are in the midst of a five game streak with no penalties on special teams, the longest such streak in this millennium for the Green & White.

“I think it’s going to play a big role in this game, the field position advantage,” said special teams ace Lance Laury. “We’re going to have to go out and punt the ball and stop them down on their side of the field. It’s going to be a big point in the game.”

Laury mentioned that the penalty-free mark is likely a result of players using proper technique and fundamentals. In addition, players like Cole as the flyer have employed their athletic advantage to put themselves in positions to make important plays while avoiding penalties. Cole has been the stopper on  many of Weatherford’s punts, including Week 15 when he caught the ball at the 2.

“Marquice has done a great job all year getting down there and downing the balls and forcing fair catches and I couldn’t ask any more out of him,” Weatherford said. “So I’m just going to try to go out there and do the best that I can do. I can’t try to put it at the 1 every time. That’s what I tried to do last week and it didn’t work so well for me. I’m just going to try to go out there and create field position for our team and do what I do.”

*Special Teams Saturday


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Posted in Nick Gallo | 10 Comments »


10 Responses to “STS*: Punting, Penalties, Field Position”

  1. By Ed in Tucson on Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    I’ve been missing the Weatherford-Cole connection the last 2 weeks. There was one punt, I think it was in the Colts game, that Cole just missed downing it inside the 1, but it was a touchback. The win v the Pats would have been easier if we had pinned them inside their 5 a couple times.
    We needed that combo to beat Pit the last time. It would be sweet to have that working again tomorrow; there’s something special about a safety.
    I was walking down a Tucson street wearing my Jets T shirt & hat when someone in a passing car yelled “Go Jets!” How sweet it is! These next 24 hours will be hard to take. I can’t wait.
    Go Jets!

  2. By Patty on Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    Watch out for the trick onside kicks. that can ruin a game.

  3. By scjoe on Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    In recent games the STs have been very,very, good, with Smith’s TD return in Pittsburgh, to Cromarties return in Indy that set up the winning FG, and also very,very, bad, with Folk missing a 28 yd FG, with Weatherford shanking punts, and with the return coverage allowing Edelmen that long return in NE. They will need to tighten that aspect of the game up in Pittsburgh. I think they will. I think the Jets win it comfortably. Jets 23 Steelers 13

  4. By Alex.G on Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    Don’t know what tomorrow will bring for our New York Jets, but I am so proud of what they have accomplished already and If they should lose I will be dissapointed but again Proud.. I will prey for their Victory Sunday at Heinz Field .60 minutes if they can give 60 minutes to each other as a unit, they will not be denied..
    “GOD BLESS THE JETS”

  5. By Hans on Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    Keep that confidence Steve! Don’t try to do too much! Get back to what you were doing in the reg season. That’s all we want. If it HAPPENS to get to the 2, I’ll take it. But other than that, do it how you do man!

  6. By Woody English on Jan 22, 2011 | Reply

    Smart game plans win ball games, and they come from every coach and through his players when it’s a team effort. Go with what brung ya’ Gang Green and the talent we have will take care of the rest.

  7. By Christopher on Jan 23, 2011 | Reply

    17 hours to go…..I CAN’T WAIT

  8. By GaryC on Jan 23, 2011 | Reply

    this is the heading I’m looking forward to seeing in the new york papers come Monday; SOUPS ON.

  9. By MrJetGreen on Jan 23, 2011 | Reply

    It’s real easy…3 + 42 = 45……45 is the number….it’s a no brainer.
    J-E-T-S Jets, Jets, Jets

  10. By Andrew Ratner on Jan 23, 2011 | Reply

    Nick,

    Coach Ryan blew that last series at the goal line. Poor play calling, had to rush a play they were not ready for. Could cost them in the end.

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