Coach Rex Ryan has a lot to be happy about as the New York Jets start the final stretch of their 2013 season. Not only do they have more wins (5), than most experts expected them to finish the season with, the Jets would be in the playoffs if the season ended today. How about that?
So myself and the staff of the Jet Press are doing a roundtable evaluation of the first half. Each writer put in a “Madden” 1-100 rating for each of the following position groups, QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, DB, ST. The grades will be averaged, and that is the grade you will see published here. Then, one writer will give a short writeup from each position(the writer will be noted at the beginning of the paragraph.
So, let’s get right to it:
QUARTERBACK: 74.3(evaluation by Alan Schechter)
We have talked about this many times. Geno Smith has shown us some great moments. He has given us every reason to believe he is the guy going forward for this team. In the second half, he has to do it more consistently. If he is going to have one week up and one week down, we can’t use him. We need to see him put consecutive weeks together during the final stretch.
RUNNING BACKS: 82.6 (evaluation by Craig Hoffman)
Running back is a position that has two talented backs with differing skill sets in Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory. Powell has more speed, is more of a threat out of the backfield and can pass block. Ivory is a bruiser that wears down defenses with his violent running style & deceptive quickness. With Ivory out with a hamstring injury early in the season Powell was one of the league’s leading rushers for Weeks 1-3. Once Ivory returned the challenge has been getting the backs enough work so they can find their groove. Ivory works best when he has a lot of carries & the way he wore down New England with 31 carries a couple of weeks ago helped win that game. With a gameplan that gets the most out of both & better offensive line work running back can be a team strength.
WIDE RECEIVERS: 69.8 (by Ioanny Dimov)
Before the season ever started the wide receiving corps of the Jets was considered a weakness of the team, and since then, in theory, it’s only gotten worse. Stephen Hill has shown signs of improvement this season, his run blocking has gotten much better, and he may yet turn into the burner the Jets wanted when they drafted him in the second round, but for now he remains inconsistent. Santonio Holmes has been plagued with injury, as a result Kerley has come on strong this season but is currently battling through his own injury. Now we look at a unit that is pieced together and composed of players who weren’t even with the Jets at the beginning of the season. However, some of the next men up have so far done a good job stepping up to the plate, with guys like Nelson, Salas, and Josh Cribbs proving to be more than band-aid solutions but solid contributors.
TIGHT ENDS: 71.7 (by Edwin Camacho)
To call the corp of tight ends on the New York Jets a patch work crew would be an understatement. With 4 tight ends on the active roster after the return of Kellen Winslow, it looks like Konrad Reuland may be the odd man out. Next to Jeff Cumberland, Konrad Reuland is the 2nd longest tenured TE on the roster, and the least productive with only 1 reception for 7 yards Jeff Cumberland has been a bit inconsistent so far throughout the season. He has shown the ability to get open and beat the defender. Sadly, he has also shown a propensity to drop open passes or passes fit into a small window. Injuries aside, when Cumberland is on the field, there is always potential for a big play. He has 15 receptions for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns so far this year. I think Jeff Cumberland could be a very serviceable tight end in this league with some polishing. Zach Sudfield is an intriguing player. During the preseason Sudfield flourished in the absence of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez while on the Patriots. He really has not seen much action this year as a member of the New York Jets up until last week’s shocking victory against the New Orleans Saints, but when his number was called he answered. Maybe throughout the second half of this season, he can get things going with Geno and get back into the groove he was in during the preseason. The physical tools are there on both ends, it is just up to Geno and Zach to develop that rapport.
Kellen Winslow Jr was acquired as free agent this off-season. Thus far through 5 games played, Kellen has 17 receptions on 24 targets for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns. Going a bit deeper than the statistics, one look at the film and you can see the rapport that has developed between Kellen Winslow and rookie QB Geno Smith. He has not only been Geno’s security blanket, but he has been one of, if not the most, dependable weapon on offense. Winslow is coming off of a 4 game suspension for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug on the banned substances list. This suspension was probably a blessing in disguise as Winslow has had a few weeks to get his health back in order, mainly his knee. On his first day back from suspension Winslow stated, “It’s good to be back with my teammates, especially after a win.” I think I speak on behalf of all Jets fans when I say that we are happy to have him back and welcome him with open arms.