Following a week in which the Jets yielded their first special teams touchdown of the season, the unit has a tall task Sunday in containing arguably the league's most dangerous returner in Chiefs PR Tyreek Hill.
"He's as special a guy as I've ever seen in person," Jets coordinator Brant Boyer said. "I went and worked him out. There's not a guy with more juice than that guy. Great kid. I can't say enough good things about the kid. He's done a fantastic job of coming in this league and doing everything I thought he was going to. He's a special, special athlete. His burst, acceleration and patience, he's got it all. He's as good as I've ever seen."
As a rookie last year, Hill averaged 15.2 yards per return and scored two touchdowns. The West Alabama product also ran back eight punts for more than 20 yards and three for more than 40. This season, teams have tried to avoid allowing the speedster a chance to return as he's already equaled his fair catch total from 2016. Jets sophomore punter Lachlan Edwards said he's focusing on location and hangtime to limit Hill, who also has a return score this year.
"The first thing is winning off the line because those two guys (the gunners) are the only ones that can leave at the snap," Edwards said. "It's important as a whole group that they win because if they get beat, the guys in front of me can't leave until I punt it, so that's where the hangtime comes into it. If the gunners get beat, we're almost up the creek without a paddle because any time he's got the ball in his hand looking downfield is a bad time. We want him to feel pressure in his face when he's still looking up at the ball because that's when he's going to wave for a fair catch."
Outside of Sunday's blunder when Panthers PR Kaelin Clay returned a punt for a 60-yard touchdown, the Green & White's coverage units had executed well this season. Entering last weekend's contest, Edwards was tied for No. 8 in net punting with an average of 42.2. While Boyer took responsibility for the coverage breakdown, Edwards said the outcome would've been different had the ball hung for another tenth of a second.
"I didn't hit a great ball," he said. "I kind of dropped it a little bit inside and pulled it towards the middle of the field. Any time you hit it in the middle of the field, you give him two ways to go rather than one way if you hit it towards the sideline. They did a good job holding our guys up and we didn't get a hand on him. Once he got to me, he was too quick.
"The problem is a lot of the time I'll bail myself out," Edwards added. "If I don't have good location, I'll have good hang and distance and if I don't have good distance, I'll have good location and hang. That one punt I didn't have either. Another .1 second in the hang and we would've had him, but that's how it went."
The Jets have to be dialed in on Sunday for more than just Hill as Boyer said the Chiefs will probably be the best special teams unit the Green & White will play this season.
"They have three or four really good returners," said Boyer, who specifically mentioned De'Anthony Thomas and Akeem Hunt. "It's a damn good unit coached by a hell of a coach [Dave Toub]. I have a lot of respect for what they do there. They value special teams a lot in that building and they do a really nice job there."