New York Jets address special teams struggles through another kicker

New York Jets

After Sergio Castillo missed three-of-four attempts on Sunday in Seattle, the New York Jets will make another change at kicker.

The New York Jets have made yet another change at kicker, announcing the release of Sergio Castillo and the signing of Chase McLaughlin earlier this week.

McLaughlin, 24, joins his seventh NFL team since entering the league as an undrafted rookie out of Illinois in 2019. He has converted 22-of-28 field goals in his career, including 4-of-5 during a three-game stint with Jacksonville earlier this season, subbing for an injured Josh Lambo, a tenure that also saw him spend some brief time on the reserve/COVID-19 list. McLaughlin did manage to boot his career long with the Jaguars, during a November loss to Green Bay.

Better known for his endeavors in the CFL and XFL, Castillo converted 8-of-13 field goal attempts during his time in New York. His green tenure came to an unceremonious end on Sunday in Seattle, as he missed three attempts in a 40-3 loss to the Seahawks.

McLaughlin will become the third kicker the Jets (0-13) have used this season, the substitutes stemming from Sam Ficken’s groin injury earlier this fall. According to notes from the Jets head coach Adam Gase said that “there is definitely” a chance Ficken could return to the practice field as the Jets prepare to return out west to battle the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox). Ficken converted each of his first eight attempts this season, but missed two kicks when he attempted to come back early from the injury in a prior visit to Los Angeles in November, a 34-28 loss to the Chargers.

The Jets have struggled at kicker since Pro Bowler Jason Myers departed for Seattle during the 2019 offseason. Should he partake in Sunday’s trek to Los Angeles. McLaughlin will become the fourth kicker to partake in a regular season game for the Jets over the past two seasons.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Four plays that shaped the New York Jets’ Sunday fate in Kansas City

New York Jets

Another loss awaited the New York Jets in Kansas City, but they put out a respectable effort against the defending champs.

Only in modern New York football could a 21-9 deficit at halftime spell progress. But even that rare display of gridiron understanding from the New York Jets fell by the wayside in yet another brutal defeat.

Patrick Mahomes earned 416 and five touchdowns, two of which went to Tyreek Hill, and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs rolled to a 35-9 victory over the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon at Arrowhead Stadium. The Jets (0-8) wound up scoring on each of their first three possessions (albeit only through Sergio Castillo field goals) but were unable to keep the momentum rolling in the second half under offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains’ playcalling. New York put up only 63 yards over the final 30 minutes, allowing Kansas City (7-1) to mostly coast the rest of the way.

ESM looks back on the four plays, one from each quarter, that shaped the Jets’ present and future in Kansas City…

1st Quarter: Denzel Wins

“Needings” a fake punt against the winless Jets potentially says more about Kansas City than it does about New York, but that’s a conversation for another day. But the Jets were able to leave the quarter on a good note thanks to the antics of second-round pick Denzel Mims.

Earlier this week, ESM spoke about the importance of including rookies in the game plan. At least in the first quarter, the Jets seemed to follow through on that philosophy when it came to Denzel Mims. The Baylor product managed to tally 42 yards on a pair of catches, including this 27-yard spectacular to end the frame. Earned on 2nd and 10, it eventually led the Jets to boot a Castillo field goal, his second of the day.

Alas for the Jets, they failed to capitalize on the potential Mims displayed over the rest of the game. He was targeted only one other time, as the Jets offense struggled in the second half for the second consecutive week after displaying some promise over the first half-hour. The playcalling became a lot more conservative, with little, if any chances taken downfield. Yet, Mims was still the Jets’ leading receiver for the second straight week.

2nd Quarter: Segi-Noooooo

If the Jets send any representatives to the 2021 Pro Bowl…or at least the symbolic rosters…it’ll probably whichever one of their kickers stays healthy over the final stages. Castillo, who celebrated his 30th birthday on Sunday, accounted for the Jets’ points, and even booted a 55-yard triple, the longest since Jason Myers’ departure. His field goals weren’t making a maximum impact in the grand scheme of things…Kansas City led 21-9…but some strong offensive execution showcased by Darnold and company allowed Castillo and company to line up for a 47-yard try that could’ve narrowed the gap to single digits.

The kick became a turning point…for the Kansas City hosts.

New York’s special teams have been a rare silver lining this season, but failure to adjust blocking allowed Armani Watts to invade the kicking area and ruthlessly block the attempt. The Jets were able to prevent the ultimate disaster with a tackle on the run back, but it permanently shifted momentum to the Chiefs’ side.

3rd Quarter: Not So Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith

It’s impossible to argue that the Jets’ defense isn’t innocent in this grand scheme of football affairs. But, frankly, they can only do so much.

Gregg Williams’ unit actually provided one of the brighter plays of the second half. They gave Kansas City a one-yard fourth down at their 14-yard-line, but a big stop by Henry Anderson, bringing down Le’Veon Bell of all people short of the first down, kept the deficit at the manageable 21-9 tally. Alas for the defense, the celebration might’ve lasted longer than their time off the field.

Conservative playcalling doomed the Jets over their next drive, as a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Braxton Berrios lost six yards on second-and-five. The idea of throwing downfield was more or less taboo in the second half, and the Jets paid the price. Their third down play was a throw short of the stick to Jeff Smith, who did what he could with the run after the catch, but he was stopped just short of the line to gain.

Possessing the ball for a mere 96 seconds (after winning the time-of-possession battle by nearly six minutes in the first half), the Jets immediately had to punt away. They wound up surrendering an 83-yard drive that took six plays to pull off, capped off by Mahomes’ penultimate score of the day to Demarcus Robinson.

4th Quarter: Opportunity Knock-Out

Injuries have provided opportunities for the Jets’ young talents. They have high hopes for both Bless Austin and third-round rookie Ashtyn Davis, but their first test was brutal. Mahomes knew to attack the pair’s area for the remainder of the game, and wounder capping off scoring with a scoring strike to Hill, a 41-yard toss that created the final margin.

There’s plenty of time for both Austin and Davis to recover, and situating their first opportunity against Mahomes and the high-voltage Kansas City Chiefs was an act of gridiron cruelty. But while it’s good that the Jets are giving their younger players opportunities, they need to post better result to give the team even the slightest reassurance going into an offseason of uncertainty.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags