The New York Jets had their doors blown off in the season opener versus the Baltimore Ravens.
A lot of things went wrong but you can trace back the final dagger to a shanked 20-yard punt by Braden Mann in the third quarter that started the collapse.
After the game fans were calling for his head and the team responded by adding a specialist to the practice squad. Although all of that noise was shut down following the Week 2 come-from-behind victory over the Cleveland Browns.
Adversity Brought the Best out of Braden Mann
Following Mann’s epically poor performance, the Jets officially put him on notice by signing placekicker Ty Long to the practice squad.
That was a stern message to the former Jets draft pick that if he continued his wayward play he would be replaced.
Well, the message was heard loud and clear as Mann responded with an epic performance that not only saved his job but created some nice job security moving forward.
The former Texas A&M product booted four balls for over 189 yards against Cleveland. That delivered a juicy 47.3 yards per punt and two of those landed inside the 20, per ESPN.
Although Mann was much more than just a punter on Sunday. He also whipped out a fake punt that went for 17 yards. A drive that was set to end transformed into a game-tying touchdown in the second quarter.
To add the cherry on top of that pie, Mann was responsible for the play of the day. After the team scored a wide-open Corey Davis touchdown to pull within six, they needed an onside kick to have a chance to pull off the win.
He lined up as if he was going to kick to the right side of the field, but last second kicked left and the rest is history.
On Tuesday, September 20 the Jets announced that they had signed wide receiver Diontae Spencer to the practice squad. In a corresponding move, they released Long.
With Long officially off the team, Mann remains the starting punter and is now the only specialist at his position on the roster. Well-earned job security.
Something You May Not Know…
Mann had a lot more job security than you probably knew.
This week Zack Rosenblatt of The Athletic joined me on the radio to explain Mann’s other duties that make him invaluable to the Jets:
“I think that is a really underrated part of Braden Mann and probably why the Jets really didn’t want to cut him. He is their onside kick guy, they practice that at least once a week sometimes twice. [Mann] is also their holder and punter, so they have more roles for him than just punting. That’s why they weren’t quick to [cut or move on from him]. That was a heck of a kick and a heck of a play.”
Of course, the reason the Jets put the pressure on Mann was that he had underperformed. So if he continued to stink they would have had no choice but to cut him, but this expert explanation now provides insight into why the team was hesitant to pull the trigger previously.
The Jets are a talented, but young football team and to win football games they’ll have to win in certain areas of the game. One of those specific places is special teams, the Jets aren’t good enough to be negative on that side of the ball and overcome those odds to win games.
On Sunday versus the Browns, they excelled on special teams with all of the aforementioned plays, and a 57-yard boot by Greg Zuerlein during the game certainly helped.
If they can continue to win that third of the game, it’ll put them in a great competitive position to make some more noise this season.