New York Jets special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said Tuesday that the New England Patriots employed a similar "wall" tactic on punt return coverage as was orchestrated by Jets strength coach Sal Alosi on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Alosi, who was suspended for the rest of the season Monday for sticking his knee out to trip the Dolphins' Nolan Carroll on punt coverage, had his suspension upgraded to "indefinitely" after the team learned Alosi had "instructed" five players to stand in a wall along the sideline.
"I had nothing to do with it, just to be honest with you," Westhoff told Chicago sports radio station ESPN 1000's Waddle and Silvy Show. "I didn't even know we were doing it. There was some organization to it. [There are] a number of teams [that do it]. If you watch carefully, there is a pretty good team up north that lines up their whole defense when they do it, so it's something that just kind of happened."
When asked specifically if he was referring to the Patriots, Westhoff said that he was, but that he didn't see anything wrong with that tactic.
"Well, if you watch them, their defense when the opponents' punt team is out there, they're up there pretty close to the line so yeah it certainly looks like they are trying to do it," Westhoff said. "Now are they doing something illegal? Are they tripping anybody? Heck no. I'm not saying that at all, 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, it's hard to say. To tell you the truth until this occurred, I never really looked at anybody's sideline in all my years."
Asked later in the day by ESPNNewYork.com about the Patriots lining up in a wall on the sideline, Westhoff said, "Were they teaching it? I have no idea. When they punted were they back? Yes. When the other team punted were they up tighter? Yes. Absolutely. You can look at it look at the tape. I'm not accusing the Patriots of doing something wrong, maybe they are doing something smart. That's up to you. Just watch the tape. You tell me. I know one thing, I don't teach it, I don't coach it and I'm not aware that it happened."
Westhoff said he doesn't intend to fuel the Jets' rivalry with the Patriots by bringing attention to their use of the tactic. "Maybe it does, I don't mean to. I don't know, you look at the film, you do the research. Look at film and watch all the teams."
Westhoff said he wasn't even sure if having players line up in such a formation is illegal and stressed that he was not teaching players to line up in formations to impede play. He said that he would never condone being in a position to injure a player from the sideline.
"You'd have to be a sick individual to have that in mind," Westhoff said.
Information from Jane McManus of ESPNNewYork.com was used in this report.