2021 New York Jets Preview: Special Teams

Jets Special Teams

In 2018, the New York Jets sent two special teams players to the Pro Bowl – kicker Jason Myers and return specialist Andre Roberts. Following their breakout seasons, both were allowed to walk in a decision by former General Manager Mike Maccagnan.

Since then, kicker has been a headache of a revolving door. Guys like Sam Ficken, Kaare Vedvik, Sergio Castillo, Chase McLaughlin, and Chandler Catanzaro (retired during 2019 training camp) have all had a go at kicking over the past two years. Meanwhile, in the return game, there has rarely been a spark.

In other words, special team’s coordinator Brant Boyer will look to get more production out of his unit in 2021. So, let’s look at how the 2021 New York Jets Special Teams group will make its mark…

2021 New York Jets Preview: Special Teams

The Starters: Matt Ammendola (Kicker), Braden Mann (Punter), Thomas Hennessy (Long Snapper)

The Good

Man, Matt Ammendola has made a name for himself amongst the Jets fan base. At the end of July, the Jets added Ammendola as the corresponding move to Ficken being waived. Undrafted out of Oklahoma State this year, he was viewed as just another rookie kicker.

Until he wasn’t. At the Green & White Scrimmage, Ammendola made it clear he was the best kicker there. He put his power on full display, out-kicking the later-waived Chris Naggar. Now, Ammendola looks to take control of the position for the 2021 season.

At the same time, Braden Mann and Thomas Hennessy are back to lockdown the punter and long snapper positions. After a shaky start to camp, Mann has been lights out in the preseason for the Jets. In two games, Mann has landed six of nine punts inside the 20-yard line. All thanks to the excellent snaps from Hennessy.

The Bad

Here is where things are worrisome. Ammendola has yet to kick in a regular season NFL game. He has been with the team for only a month and only hit field goals at a 76.9% clip at Oklahoma State. Should Ammednola struggle, Mann and Hennessy could receive a lot more work this season.

Kick Returner: Ty Johnson, Michael Carter

At kick returner, Corey Ballentine flashed his own skillset, with multiple deep returns at the scrimmage and in practice. Nevertheless, him being waived this past week opens the door for running backs Ty Johnson and Michael Carter to return kicks. Both are small, shifty backs that could do some damage with the right blocking in front of them.

Punt Returner: Braxton Berrios, Keelan Cole, Michael Carter, Elijah Moore

As for the Jets punt returner, Braxton Berrios is in line to once again handle punt returns in 2021. Over the last two seasons, Berrios has averaged 10.5 yards per punt return and offers experience as a kick returner too with 13 career returns.

His averages may not jump off the page, which leads one to believe Keelan Cole, Michael Carter, and Elijah Moore could all receive opportunities too. Carter and Moore are both exciting rookies who could provide a spark anytime they have the ball. Whereas Cole provides a safe, experienced option.

Final Special Teams Analysis

Unlike many other positions, special teams are relatively clear. Ammendola, Mann, and Hennessy could form a solid trio for Boyer if they continue their pre-season play. On the return side of things, until someone earns their spot in the regular season, expect everyone to get their fair share of returns.

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