Since the Jets’ special teams played such a critical role in the their Week 1 victory over the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, we booked coordinator Mike Westhoff for a Week 2 appearance on “Four Quarters.”
With the Jets trailing, 24-17, and just 5:08 left on the game clock, Westhoff dialed up one of the most exciting punt blocks that you’ll ever seen in regular-season play. Westhoff told me that the most amazing thing about Joe McKnight’s majestic block is that while it typically takes two seconds from snap to kick, the Cowboys and P Mat McBriar completed the process in just 1.87 seconds.
“I thought strategically we would have three guys on two. If we did this exactly correct, we may get that,” Westhoff said. “I didn’t think it would necessarily be Joe. I thought the fullback would step in and take Joe, and we’d get 2-on-1 on the corner. As it turned out, they actually moved out a little bit better than I thought, although the fullback probably went further out than what they’d like him to, and Joe came clean and we blocked it.”
As MetLife Stadium erupted, speedy CB Isaiah Trufant calmly scooped up the bouncing ball and raced to the end zone. Pandemonium ensued and the classic was tied up in an instant.
“He was running off the opposite edge to make sure that they weren’t able to turn and punt away from our overload,” Westy said of Trufant. “He’s so quick and he timed it up, and we always have a scoop-and-score principle if there’s anything that is blocked — the same thing with a field goal. And he was able to do that.
“It was just a great play.”
Then we know what happened next as Nick Folk stuck a 50-yard dagger into his former employer, much to the delight of Westhoff and the fans. It was a sensational start to the season for the special teams units.
But Westhoff, always the perfectionist, is definitely working on improvement heading into Sunday’s matchup with the Jaguars. Eager to make something happen late in the second quarter with his team down, 10-0, Antonio Cromartie returned a kickoff out of his end zone even though he was 9 yards deep. The Jets had survived a poor drive start at their 13 and cashed in with an 87-yard scoring drive that culminated on a 4-yard toss from Mark Sanchez to Dustin Keller.
“We’d like to be about 5 or so deep, and Cro was a little bit deep and he knows it. We actually thought we should challenge our own return that he stepped out — I kind of think he did,” said Westhoff with a laugh. “We could have challenged it and made it be a touchback. It’s an aggressive play on his part. I don’t want to take away from his aggressiveness — I just don’t. There will come a time when the weather’s going to get colder and the ball won’t constrict as well. I think we have an excellent blocking team and we’ll be a kickoff return threat.”
New punter T.J. Conley numbers (39.8-yard average, 35.0-yard net) might not appear impressive on first glance, but he didn’t have too many misfires. He backed the Cowboy up on their 7- and 9-yard lines with back-to-back punts of 31 and 35 yards — both unofficially with better than 5.1-second hang times — early in the second quarter.
“He did a good job the other night,” Westhoff said of Conley. “He did two balls inside the 10 that we liked. When they came at him at the end of the game, he got the ball off on time. He had a real nice one that they had to fair-catch. He hit one ball that we really didn’t like. He kind of cut across it and it wasn’t perfect, but he did some good things. We see him improving and he’s capable of hitting the really good ball.”
Westhoff is looking forward to another big-time challenge Sunday. The Jaguars are more than just Maurice Jones-Drew — they feature two of the top special teamers in all of football in WR Kassim Osgood and RB Montell Owens.
“They have an outstanding group and they have the Pro Bowl players in Osgood and Owens. If you had to pick the two best special teams players in the NFL in the last five to six to seven years, it may be those two,” Westy said. “Now I would throw Eric Smith and maybe even Brad Smith into that group. They’re real good and they’re a challenge. [Josh] Scobee is an excellent kicker, a big kickoff guy. Matt Turk’s been around. Matt’s a veteran, but he’s still good. They have a young punt returner [rookie WR Cecil Shorts] who I think is pretty good.”
You can check out more of our sitdown with Coach Westhoff this weekend on “Four Quarters.”
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Isaiah Trufant, Jacksonville Jaguars, joe McKnight, Kassim Osgood, Mike Westhoff, Montell Owens, T.J. Conley
Posted in Eric Allen | 13 Comments »