The NFL opted not to investigate whether the Jets orchestrated the placement of strength coach Sal Alosi and others along the white stripe when the Dolphins were punting on Sunday because, in our view, the NFL didn’t want to start down that particular rabbit hole. Indeed, now that we know the Jets were lining up personnel on the sideline in a shoulder-to-shoulder, foot-to-foot formation, it’s safe to assume that others have engaged in similar tactics.
Jets special-teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, in a Wednesday visit with the Waddle & Silvy Show on ESPN 1000 in Chicago, said that the Patriots engage in similar tactics.
“A number of teams do it,” Westhoff said. “There is a pretty good team up north that lines their whole defense up when they do it, so it’s something that just kind of happened.”
Asked if he’s saying the Patriots line up players to impede punt coverage teams, Westhoff elaborated. “Well, if you watch them, their defense when the opponents’ punt team is out there,” Westhoof said. “They’re up there pretty close to the line so it looks like they are trying to do it. Now are they doing anything illegal? Are they tripping anybody, heck no. I’m not saying that. That’s not the point. But, yeah, they’re lined up there. Is it making a difference? I don’t know. I really don’t know, because to tell you the truth before this happened I never really looked at anybody’s sideline in all my years.”
Westhoff also reiterated his position that, as it relates to the Jets, “I had nothing to do with it” and “I didn’t even know we were doing it.” He admitted that “anything that happens on special teams is a reflection on me, that’s how I look at it, and I don’t teach it, I don’t coach it, I didn’t know we were doing it, but the fact that it happens I’ve got to get involved.”
Our guess? The Jets were willing to look the other way, but Westhoff was frustrated by the fact that people (like us) were assuming that he had knowledge of and/or involvement in the tactic. And so we think Westhoff insisted on the team getting to the bottom of it, so that his name could be cleared.
That said, Westhoff has now implicated the Patriots. And we assume the Patriots will be responding.
Finally, we’re having trouble reconciling Westhoff’s mixed signals regarding the situation. When discussing his belief that the Patriots do it, he acts like it’s no big deal. But he’s apparently offended by the suggestion that he instructed guys to stand on the edge of the white stripe but not try to trip opposing players.