Jets general manager Joe Douglas did some good work improving New York’s roster throughout the first wave of free agency. He revamped the offensive line, added a new deep threat at wide receiver, brought back a pair of in-house free agents and inked a new starting cornerback.
There is one group littered with holes that Gang Green’s first-year general manager did not address, though.
While the Jets have improved on offense and defense, special teams have been almost completely ignored. Douglas somewhat addressed the legmen by signing Authentic Brett Maher Jersey to a futures/reserve contract in December, tending Sam Ficken and signing 23-year-old punter Ian Berryman in February, but none of those moves come off as improvements.
It’s hard to blame Douglas for letting special teams fall by the wayside a little bit in the opening days of free agency. The Jets had much more pressing needs on offense and defense that required Douglas’ complete attention. Kicking and punting issues are usually solved either later in free agency or before training camp anyway, which does not make this some sort of major gaffe on Douglas’ part.
With that being said, the Jets can’t afford to ignore the numerous holes that could plague the unit in 2020 for much longer. Maher isn’t much of an upgrade over Ficken, which is saying a lot. He converted only 66 percent of his field goals last season, while Ficken hit 70 percent.
As for Berryman, he has never punted in a regular season game. That does not mean he isn’t up for the task, but it’s hard to justify replacing Lachlan Edwards, who remains an unrestricted free agent, with a player with no regular season experience just to save a little bit of money.
Special teams are just as important a facet of the game as offense and defense. Without a kicker who can consistently put the ball through the uprights and a punter that can flip field position, the Jets are going to suffer.
If there is any special teams coach that can make due what he is given, it’s Brant Boyer. As good as Boyer is at what he does, though, he’s not a magician. It might be a harsh criticism considering Maher and Berryman have yet to go through a single practice with the Jets, but it is seriously worth wondering if these two are capable of accomplishing what Boyer is asking of them.
It’s safe to assume Douglas’ work in this area is far from done. Competition will be brought in throughout the summer and the best players will ultimately win out. As it stands right now, though, things aren’t looking too hot for the Jets on special teams.
That has to change sooner rather than later.