Special Teams Were Hot & Cold in '16

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Last Season Review
The Jets' specialists had their ups and downs. Among the positives, K Nick Folk had one of the best seasons in his decade in the NFL, converting 27 of 31 field goal tries for 87.1% accuracy — not far off his best season as a Jet, his 33-for-36 (91.7%) accuracy in 2013. And while blocked FGs are counted against the kicker, it is impressive that Folk missed only one of the 28 tries that he got off cleanly. Yes, he missed the first two extra points of his career, but a lot very good kickers missed those 33-yard PATs this year (the NFL conversion rate was 93.5%). With the kickoff rules changing seemingly annually now, it's hard to say Folk had his best KO year, but he had a career-high 39 touchbacks on 67 kicks (not including squibs and onsides).

Rookie P Lachlan Edwards was a work in progress. His 43.1 gross yards/punt was 28th in the league and his 37.3 net was 30th. But as both Edwards and ST coordinator Brant Boyer noted, the Aussie by way of Sam Houston State has been punting only about four years. Boyer's assessment: "Hell, yeah, he's gotten better." One promising note was that Edwards more than doubled the number of fair catches on his punts from seven in the first half of the season to 15 in the second half.

The third member of the punting/kicking battery, LS Tanner Purdum, had another season of no errant snaps and no penalties committed.

The return units struggled all year. The Jets' 5.52-yard punt-return average, with Jalin Marshall and Nick Marshall the primary returners, was 31st in the NFL. The kickoff-return team, despite what Boyer said was a "revolving door" of deep men, fared so-so at 21.9 yards/return, 15th in the league. The top players in kickoff and punt coverage (both of which ranked in the 20s) were Josh Martin, Rontez Miles and Bruce Carter.

Best Images of the Jets Specialists During the 2016 Season

Looking Ahead
Boyer gave a candid assessment of himself at the end of his first year as an NFL coordinator: "It's been a frustrating year for me. You learn to be aggressive in some areas where I didn't play it as aggressive as I wanted to or I would have liked to, if I look back on it. Then other times, sometimes when I maybe pressured, I would've liked to have tried for a return. There's things that, just like playing, just like writing, I'm sure just like anything, that you learn through the process." Boyer vowed that "We'll get it right this offseason and get it fixed."

Folk will receive competition from Ross Martin, who signed a reserve/future contract after doing most of the Jets' kicking last preseason, including a 55-yarder against the Giants. Purdum can become an unrestricted free agent and along those lines the Jets signed first-year LS Zach Triner.

Martin and Carter can both become UFAs. So can Antonio Allen, who played little in '16 but did some solid teams work for the Jets in previous years. It's too soon to set the returner depth charts but we can note that of the recent skill-position reserve/future signees, Frankie Hammond did some nice PR work with the Chiefs (10.9 yards/return on 29 returns in 2014-15), Darius Jennings returned some kicks with the Browns in '15, and Deshon Foxx did some returning with UConn. Other candidates will surely arrive via free agency and the draft.

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