2019 New York Jets Preview: Special Teams

For years, special teams were one of the New York Jets biggest issues. Turnovers, touchdowns allowed, missed field goals all contributing. That changed in 2018. Special Teams coordinator Brant Boyer led a group that was one of the strongest in the league. Returner Andre Roberts was a first-team All-Pro at age 30, and kicker Jason Myers made the Pro Bowl after draining 33 of 36 field goals.

The Jets special teams unit of 2018 was one for the ages. Yet after this offseason, the unit only returns one starter. How will that change things in 2019? Let’s take a look at what Brant Boyer will have to work with for 2019, in the final positional piece of the 2019 New York Jets Preview series!

2019 New York Jets PreviewsQuarterbacks – Running Backs – Wide Receivers/Tight Ends – Interior Offensive Line – Offensive Tackles – EDGE Rushers – Interior Defensive Line – Linebackers – Cornerbacks – Safeties

2019 New York Jets Preview: Special Teams

Today, because there are so many competitions and questions up in the air surrounding the unit, let’s go position by position instead…

Kicker: Chandler Catanzaro

Coming off of a Pro Bowl season, many fans expected former General Manager Mike Maccagnan to make retaining Jason Myers a priority. He had different ideas. In the end, he would not give into Myers’ demands as the kicker walked away into a contract with the Seattle Seahawks. This once again, leaving Gang Green with a hole at kicker.

Now, it could have easily been that the team would enter 2019 with their third different kicker since the end of Nick Folk‘s “Folk Tale” era. However, the team turned to a familiar face. Chandler Catanzaro was the team’s kicker in 2017, with some bumps along the way. While perfect for extra points, he was only 83.3% on field goals.

At one point on the rise as a top kicker in the league with the Arizona Cardinals, Catanzaro has bounced around the league. In 2018, he spent time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Carolina Panthers, although he only was 80% on field goals and 85.7% on extra points. Myers spoiled Jets fans last season with his efficiency, and it must be known that Catanzaro is not going to make fans forget about him. Catanzaro will come in with professionalism and be an average kicker for the Jets in 2019.

Punters: Lachlan Edwards and Matt Darr

Our first competition on special teams features a former Maccagnan draft pick against a former player with the Miami Dolphins for Adam Gase. This is surely one of the lesser spoken competitions of training camp that will have a big impact. This is a competition between two players that have flipped the script. Lachlan Edwards struggled mightily during his rookie year before piecing it all together. Matt Darr, on the other hand, was great as a rookie, before struggling in 2016, and once again in 2018 with the Buffalo Bills.

It should be expected that Edwards is the favorite, and Darr is there as competition to push Edwards.

Long Snapper: Thomas Hennessy

Back in 2017, the Jets acquired Indianapolis Colts long snapper Thomas Hennessy for safety Ronald Martin. Since then, Hennessy has been a consistent player who has not messed up. That being said, it should be expected that Hennessy will have a roster spot come to the season opener against Buffalo in September.

Returners: Trenton Cannon (HB), Elijah McGuire (HB), Ty Montgomery (HB), Valentine Holmes (HB), Jamison Crowder (WR), Quadree Henderson (WR), JJ Jones (WR), Greg Dortch (WR)

Let the games begin. After Andre Roberts left for the Buffalo Bills when let go by Maccagnan, it left a big hole in the Jets special teams. This leading to Brant Boyer having a wide-open competition for 2019’s returner. Here are the cases for each candidate…

HB Trenton Cannon- 

As went over in the running backs preview, Trenton Cannon has the lights out speed and experience from college as a returner. Cannon must capitalize in the return game at training camp in order to strengthen his case to make the roster. Competing against the likes of Bilal Powell, Ty Montgomery, and Elijah McGuire to back up Le’Veon Bell, if Cannon establishes himself as the returner chances are he will edge someone else out of the competition at running back.

Elijah McGuire-

Not too long ago, McGuire seemed likely to make the roster as the third running back behind Bell and Montgomery. That changed upon the return of Bilal Powell. Even though he is going to be 31, the consistent production beats out that of McGuire. That is if Powell returns to his old form following a severe neck injury. This leaves McGuire on the bubble. The way he can get Adam Gase to carry four halfbacks would be to prove himself as a returner. During his rookie season, he struggled to catch the ball cleanly and turn them into any sort of significant gain. If McGuire can change that, then he very well will be on this roster.

Ty Montgomery- 

Chances are Montgomery will have a roster spot secured as the primary backup and utility player to Bell. Montgomery has experience returning kickoffs (not punts) and could allow Gase to carry three backs rather than four. Whether or not fans see Montgomery returning kicks will come down to the value of his roster spot as a utility.

Valentine Holmes- 

Valentine Holmes enters as a former rugby star looking to make it in the NFL. With experience as a halfback/receiver, he offers a utility player at least. As discussed in the running back preview, there is a big jump from the NRL to the NFL. Entering training camp, if there is any chance Holmes has at making this roster, proving valuable as a returner would go a long way.

Jamison Crowder- 

As the (second) biggest addition to the Jets offense, whether or not Gase will let Jamison Crowder return punts is yet to be seen. Crowder does offer experience in doing so having returned punts every year while in the league. He would be a safe option and prevent a roster spot from going to a pure returner, just like Montgomery would.

Quadree Henderson- 

A former undrafted free agent out of Pittsburgh, Quadree Henderson offers return experience from his time with the New York Giants. It has yet to be seen if he can catch NFL passes, as a strong training camp could help with that. Either way, improvement in both phases would go a long way for him to make the roster.

JJ Jones-

As discussed in the wide receivers/tight ends preview, JJ Jones is a bubble player already. A former practice squad receiver in 2018, Jones offers experience as a returner. A smaller player at 5-10 and 174 pounds, Jones would be seen as a potential backup slot option behind Crowder.

Greg Dortch- 

The undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest has seen a lot of hype given his elusive play style. His speed translates all over the field and will be clear in returning kicks or punts. Greg Dortch has a good shot to establish himself as a key player by the conclusion of training camp.

Last Word on the 2019 New York Jets Preview: Special Teams

Who would have thought there are so many storylines to follow on the special teams unit. Chandler Catanzaro returns to New York replacing the Pro Bowler Jason Myers. Lachlan Edwards looks to retain his punter spot against veteran Matt Darr. Thomas Hennessy wins the bottle cap challenge and likely returns as the long snapper. Lastly, the returner competition is set to heat up with training camp starting this Saturday!

Last Word on the 2019 New York Jets Preview Series

The 2019 New York Jets Preview series has gone player by player and position by position taking a look at who could be on the Jets 2019 roster. After all that analyzing, get ready for one last piece with final roster predictions prior to the start of training camp!

2019 New York Jets PreviewsQuarterbacks – Running Backs – Wide Receivers/Tight Ends – Interior Offensive Line – Offensive Tackles – EDGE Rushers – Interior Defensive Line – Linebackers – Cornerbacks – Safeties

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