The only thing special about Kevin O’Dea is that smile on his face. Because there definitely isn’t anything special going on when the ball is being kicked around.
Acquired from the Chicago Bears after Mike Westhoff decided to limit his coaching responsibilities to focus on his health, Kevin O’Dea has been unimpressive since receiving control of the unit. Coming from a team that boasts Devin Hester, it is now safe to assume that he and Robbie Gould were excellent resume builders for O’Dea.
With Mike Westhoff back on board as the Jets Special Teams Coordinator, the answer is obvious. Eric Mangini and company no longer have faith in Kevin O’Dea for the job.
I always try and maintain a positive outlook on the New York Jets, their staff, and the team in general. Honestly, the Jets already receive enough bad press as is. They definitely don’t need a fan site to be on the attack, as well.
But by holding my tongue, I believe I’m doing this fan base a disservice.
In a few months, Kevin O’Dea has dismantled the legacy Mike Westhoff established in New York. In the four preseason games, the Jets’ kickoff coverage was miserable.
Watching a Nugent kickoff fly into the end zone is a rarity in itself. But under Westhoff’s command, the team would always manage to limit the yardage gained on returns. Since O’Dea’s arrival, our New York Jets have allowed an average of 31.1 yards on kick returns.
That’s significantly more than the 24.9-yard average allowed in 2007 with Mike Westhoff’s coordination. To keep this on an even keel, Westhoff’s unit allowed only an average of 24.8 yards in the 2007 preseason.
I understand that the games were exhibition, but the special teams play has been the bright spot for this team through some of the darker seasons. That reputation is not something fans want to see tarnished.
The Jets have enough concerns with making sure the new offensive line gels, and with helping Brett Favre develop chemistry with the receivers. The defense also benefits greatly from good kickoff coverage. Longer fields are more overwhelming for an incoming offense. And a good return can give an offense the spark they need.
There cannot be a compromise on special teams. The field position battle is all too important in the NFL, and can’t be sacrificed.
Is O’Dea’s damage irreparable in the 2008 season? Can Westhoff whip the special teams back into shape? And if so, how quickly can he do it?
With Ellis Hobbs and Darren Sproles coming within the next two weeks, Westhoff is going to have his hands full breaking down the special teams habits O’Dea brought with him to New York.