With a rookie starting quarterback and a top-5 defense, winning the battle for field position can be the difference between winning and losing. To try and improve in that area, the New York Jets made a kicking change on Monday, releasing punter Robert Malone and re-signing Ryan Quigley.
Malone won the job over Quigley in training camp, but has had a disappointing start to the season. He has averaged just 37.1 net yards on 16 punts. And managed to pin the Patriots inside their own 20-yard line only once in nine attempts in week two. Malone has a big leg — he was responsible for the longest punt in the league so far this season in week one: 84 yards — but his inconsistency prompted the Jets to make a change.
“I think with Robert, it’s just the consistency. That’s the thing that bothered us,” Rex Ryan said. “Let’s face it, he had one of the best punts in Jets history in Week 1 and then he had some others where the hang time wasn’t where we wanted to be. With [Ryan] Quigley, it was a tight competition before, but we did think he gives a little more consistency.”
Quigley and Malone were neck-and-neck throughout training camp, however Quigley’s poor performance in the third pre-season game forced the Jets to release him and go with the incumbent, Malone.
Quigley, who has never punted in an NFL regular season game, told the media he was ““Super-excited” to be back with the Jets.
“It’s like getting the call after the draft when I was signed as a free agent,” Quigley said. “It’s just an awesome feeling.”
By making a change so early in the season, it’s clear the Jets are not going to accept mediocrity in the kicking game. Quigley will have to perform immediately or the Jets will likely continue to shop around for a more permanent solution.