What does Justin Hardee bring to the New York Jets?
Entering the 2021 offseason, it was safe to say that a special teams ace wasn’t at the top of New York Jets fans’ wishlists.
While special teams isn’t necessarily a true “third phase of the game” – its importance is not equal to offense or defense, especially in today’s NFL with today’s rules – it shouldn’t be totally discounted.
Look at the Jets’ 2020 season as evidence to see how a bad special teams unit can impact a football game. The Jets had the league’s 29th-best special teams unit, according to Football Outsiders.
Joe Douglas addressed the weakness early in free agency by signing 27-year-old Justin Hardee to a three-year, $6.75 million dollar deal.
That is a decent chunk of change for a player who played one defensive snap over 10 games for the Saints last year. That is until you learn just how talented Hardee is – not only for his ability as a top-notch special teams player but as a leader in the locker room as well.
The full Blewett’s Blitz Justin Hardee film breakdown is available above via Jets X-Factor’s YouTube channel.
Blewett’s Blitz podcast episode
The Hardee signing was also very important because of the roster turnover that was bound to happen with the incoming coaching staff. Special teams coordinator Brant Boyer lost key cogs such as Tarell Basham, Matthias Farley, and Frankie Luvu and needed players to replace them.
Not only will Hardee fill their roles, but he will flourish and produce much more than any recent Jets special teams player. In the meantime, he will also be providing great mentorship and leadership for youngsters looking to make a name in the NFL.
In essence, Hardee is “All Gas No Brake” personified.
Full list of strengths and weaknesses
- Special Teams Ace
- Former WR, helps him avoid jams on returns
- Smart/awareness on ST
- Active hands to defeat blocks
- Works to stay on blocks
- Some pop as a blocker
- Ultimate smack talker
- Drives feet as a blocker
- Loves football
- Misses some tackles on special teams
- Comes in “too hot” on some punt returners
- Most aspects of CB play (jumpy, big steps, opens hips, no shuffles, angles, playing ball, eyes back to QB, etc.)
It certainly is a true phase of the game! One of the reasons Parcells teams were always successful was outstanding special teams. He always seemed to have the best punter and kicker. Turning field position was paramount for him. That’s how the Giants beat Buffalo!