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The biggest difference for Jets punter Lachlan Edwards in his second year doesn’t involve the improvements to his game.
Lachlan Edwards is still a confident yet polite young man from Australia by way of Sam Houston State. He’s not about to pretend that he was happy with every punt he launched for the Jets this summer.
“Obviously, there were five or six in there that I wish I could’ve had back over the preseason,” he told me after the Jets’ final tuneup at Philadelphia. “Especially tonight, I’ve got to get my direction just a little bit better. If I can get them out there by the numbers, we should be a pretty solid punt team, so I’m happy with that.”
Needless to say, this was the preseason, and while some punter’s numbers are better regular-season predictors than a lot of other metrics, things change for everyone when the games count. We’re about to find out if Edwards is more about “the five or six” kicks he’d want back or the promise he showed on most punts at the Linc.
Two things are certain about the Jets’ punting situation. One is that they’re going to need outstanding field position to help them prosper this season, especially in those killer first six games.
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Lachlan Edwards has heard that the offseason after one’s NFL rookie season is huge, and the Jets’ first-year punter is taking that bit of hearsay to heart.
“The emphasis will be leg strength. It’ll help me get through the year with the volume of kicks and how long the season is,” Edwards told me at the end of the season before heading for points west (Texas and California) to train. “That’s one thing I probably didn’t have a great base on coming in was just the leg strength that will help me get through the year.
“Has he gotten better? Hell, yeah, he’s gotten better. He didn’t know how to hold when he got here, his times were way up there — we’ve brought all that down. I think he’s a little more consistent than he was earlier in the year. I think he’s done a pretty nice job. Are there areas of improvement he needs to make in the offseason? Sure there are, just like us all.”
Boyer mentioned his own connection with Pro Bowl punter Pat McAfee, whom he worked with the previous four seasons on the Colts. McAfee has posted 40-plus net averages four of the cheap jets jerseys last five years, but his nets his first two NFL seasons were 37.8 as a rookie and then 35.4.
One thing Edwards had on Quigley was a slightly better net average and field position, based on him and his cover team not yielding a TD return (the ’15 Jets gave up two) and forcing more fair catches. That’s a fair foundation for the honest, earnest young man who was brought up on Australian rules football, rugby and cricket.
“I think it’s just a confidence thing right now,” Edwards said. “I trained pretty hard in the offseason, but noticeably it’s a confidence thing when I’m out there. I know what’s expected and what to do, so I’ve been punting a lot better just with a different mindset.”
“I think there’s big expectations for him,” Boyer said. “I don’t think there’s a person in this building that has worked harder in the offseason than Lachlan has. Personally, him and I had a long talk after the end of last season, and I know how hard that kid has worked. He’s put in a lot of hard work in the offseason and I think he’s becoming a professional. That is something that all young kids do. There is a maturation process that kids go through and as a young guy, you don’t know how to do that.”
“We’ve had a pretty hard stretch with the returners with Tyreek Hill from Kansas City and we just had Lockett. who is a Pro Bowl player I believe,” he said. “And now this week we have Antonio Brown and it doesn’t get any easier the next couple of weeks. The big focus has been direction, hang time and placement of the ball, so that’s sort of what we’re trying to do.”
On first glance, the numbers weren’t extraordinary. Edwards punted five times in all, averaging 40.4 yards a punt. But a deep dive reveals an outstanding afternoon as Edwards pinned the visitors inside the 20 on three occasions. Talented return man Tyler Lockett was made a non-factor on special teams as his two returns resulted in eight yards. Edwards’ first punt resulted in a Lockett fair catch at the Seattle 8, his second went 37 yards and was directed out of bounds at the Seattle 15, his fourth punt eventually resulted in a Seattle drive start at the 9 after a penalty, and the Aussie unloaded a 52-yard boot in the fourth quarter.
Punt coverage, an issue last season, had been pretty good this summer, until rookie speedster Paul Turner broke a tackle up the middle and couldn’t be caught for a 71-yard punt-return TD that gave the Birds a 7-6 lead late in the second quarter, although punter Lachlan Edwards took the rap on the directional kick that he said he didn’t get out to the numbers.
Rookie P Lachlan Edwards, a seventh-round pick from Sam Houston State, has had a solid start to his professional career. He is averaging 43.2 yards per punt and 13 of his 37 boots have backed teams up inside their 20-yard line.