With the New York Jets coming off a terrible 6-10 season there is plenty of blame to go around just make sure not to mention “retired” special teams coach Mike Westhoff as one of the culprits for the poor record.
Westhoff appeared on Miami sports radio station 560 WQAM and proceeded to rip every facet of the Jets organization but himself of course. “Our defense played pretty well, there’s part of our defense and against certain people that there are some weaknesses, people know that,” Westhoff said. “We as a kicking team led the league in tackles inside the twenty, we led the league, so people started back in the hole most of the time. When our defense plays on a long field they are a little suspect in the middle … people moved the ball up to mid-field on us … then we would hold people then they would punt to us and Mark Sanchez would come out on the ten yard-line.”
So basically Westhoff’s special teams unit was the reason the Jets defense ranked 8th (yards allowed) in the league? He went on to say the defense was overrated, “I want to stop teams in the top ten not the bottom five please so you can take it however you want.” Find this statement interesting, the Jets had the 30th ranked offense, a minus 14 turnover ratio, played virtually the same schedule as the Bills (22), Dolphins (21) and Patriots (25) yet these teams had worse ranked defenses, but the Jets succeeded only against inferior competition.
While Westhoff seems to be taking credit for winning the field position battle with his kickoff return coverage unit the Jets had 69 kickoffs all year, only the Chiefs (58), Cardinals (64) and Rams (68) had fewer. Strange how the New England Patriots had 112 kickoffs during the year yet had a better return average allowed (20.5 YRDS) then the Jets (21.9 YRDS). Guess when the Patriots Devin McCourty was returning a kickoff 104 yards for a touchdown after the Jets took a short lived 7-0 lead that was winning the field position battle?
The punt return unit would seem to have more to do with field position but how many times did we witness Jeremy Kerley fair catching a punt inside the 5 yard line? In fact Kerley led the league in fair catches with 36 and only had 19 returns for 208 yards. Maybe with better coaching the Jets start more from the 20 instead of inside because of a fair catch which should not have been made?
Westhoff discussed Miami Dolphins punter Brandon Fields ability to avoid the Jets attempt at a punt block, “In our first game down there we came dead clean on him (Fields) in the end zone to block it … he just got it and kicked it lightning fast.” It was Jets punter Robert Malone’s fault when the Dolphins blocked a punt which resulted in a touchdown according to Westhoff, “You guys (Dolphins) came against us now what was different is our guy took a little longer, like you could smoke a cigar in that time.” Wonder if place kicker Nick Folk was busy puffing away when he had a league leading three field goals block during the season?
The former Jets coach goes on to blame the organizations team building strategies which left him void of talent, “If you don’t budget your team well you can destroy the middle and bottom of your football team … and that’s kind of what happened to us … When you’re paying a handful of your guys 40% of your salary cap what are you going to do with the rest of them?” This is true about the Jets being very top heavy salary wise but was it the players who allowed the Dolphins to recover a surprise onside kick against the Jets or poor coaching explaining to the team not to drop back until the ball is kicked?
Westhoff has had a distinguished career as a coach and you could blame the talent at times for problems on the field but coaches have to accept some responsibility. Jets fan are not upset Tony Sparano won’t be running the offense next year and while he wasn’t given the most talented players he was held responsible for results on the field.
Obviously Westhoff is looking to make excuses and distance himself from this past season to possibly coach somewhere else but he did say, “I don’t see myself as this NFL know it all,” well sure doesn’t sound like it.