Olivier Vernon haunts Jets’ special teams
It’s painfully obvious at this point that the entirety of the Jets’ problems cannot be blamed on Mark Sanchez alone. He’s far from locked in against Miami on Sunday, but it is New York’s special teams hurting the cause as much as anything.
Olivier Vernon was the main source of trouble for New York’s specialty units in the first half, as the Dolphins raced out to a 20-0 lead en route to a 30-9 win.
First, Vernon recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown that put the Dolphins up 10-0 — Jimmy Wilson broke through to stuff Robert Malone’s punt attempt, and the loose ball skittered back across the goal line, where Vernon pounced on it.
Later, Vernon closed out the first half by swatting a Nick Folk field-goal attempt to prevent the Jets from getting on the board.
As if that weren’t bad news enough for the Jets’ special teams, Miami also executed an onside kick after taking a 3-0 on the first drive of the game. No points came out of that gutsy move by the Dolphins, but it did serve to place momentum squarely on their side for the duration of the first half.
It was a rare down day for Mike Westhoff’s crew. The Jets’ special teams coach is known for his creativity, and for units that are typically among the league’s best. When the Jets acquired Tebow, it was Westhoff’s idea to play him as a punt protector.
Tebow, by the way, missed the block that led to Miami’s punt block.
This was a key game in the AFC East race — the Dolphins entered at 3-3, a half-game back of the Patriots; the Jets came in at 3-4, off a heartbreaking loss to New England in Week 7. Given how well Miami’s defense played, both Sunday and all season, the Jets’ letdowns on special teams made it impossible for them to compete.