New York Jets 2013 First Half: A “The Jet Press” Roundtable
By Alan Schechter
Nov 3, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan before the game against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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.
Oct 13, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets center Nick Mangold (74) gets set against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first half at MetLife Stadium. The Steelers won the game 19-6. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
OFFENSIVE LINE: 79.3 (by Vincent Hall)
The offensive line, much like the rest of the team is a work in progress. Hard to determine if the level of play is improving as the unit gels with new guards playing because of the up and down nature of the team in every game so far. If the penalties on false starts and holding can get under control to a reasonable rate, the O-line will improve to a B or B+, and the points per game will also improve without the drive killing penalties stopping them.
DEFENSIVE LINE: 94.5 (by Mikey Nash)
The defensive line is by far the best unit on the entire team, and arguably this bunch is the best in the entire NFL. So far this season, these guys have been nothing short of dominant. The anchor on the line is Wilkerson. In only his 3rd year out of Temple, Wilkerson is already one of the best defensive lineman in the league. Through the first 9 games of the season, Wilkerson has recorded 8 sacks, which puts him on track to become the first Jets player to record double-digit sacks since John Abraham. With the 13th pick of the 2013 NFL Draft, the Jets selected Sheldon Richardson out of Missouri. The rookie has had a great start to his career, being a true force in stopping the run, and being able to get to the quarterback. Damon Harrison is the ultimate underdog story who has found great success. The former undrafted defensive tackle from William Penn. has been dominant in clogging the middle all year, and ” Snacks” has also been able to get pressure on the QB ( his first sack was against Tom Brady!). Even though Quinton Coples is listed as an OLB, he is still a part of the defensive line, and least in my opinion. Coples primarily blitzes, and plays both standing up, and in the three-point stance. Coples had a slow start to the season while recovering from an injury, but against the Saints Coples showed his potential while stuffing the run, and constantly pressuring Drew Brees. Kenrick Ellis and Legar Douzable are valuable players for the Jets who play limited snaps, but provide great depth to the already strong defensive line. Credit to Coach Karl Dunbar for making this bunch so strong!
LINEBACKERS: 84.1 (by Tyler Moore)
The Jets made an effort to make a quicker and younger linebacker crew this year. They got rid of Bart Scott, who was dragging the crew down, and started going to Demario Davis. He is coupled with David Harris, who has played quicker this year that I have noticed. For the outside linebackers, Calvin Pace returns, and the Jets have used lineman Quinton Coples as well. With the exclusion of the last game against the Saints, Coples has been silent in games this year. However, the linebacker crew has stepped up in the coverage game and have done better than in the past.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: 68.6 (by Sean Durham)
I think as you start to go towards a more aggressive offense you start to give up the pass more in today’s NFL they have no help of pass rush as well as double team opportunities from all the blitzing. Basically I don’t think they have been quite AS bad as the numbers, but they haven’t been good either.
SPECIAL TEAMS: 84.3 (by Debbie Schechter)
What else can be said about kicker Nick Folk; he’s been Mr. Automatic and been the most reliable weapon on the whole Jets squad. 23 of 23 on field goals is amazing. As someone said to me at the beginning of the season, Folk maybe the best weapon and the Jets have and he’s turning out to be correct. The signing of Josh Cribbs to takeover the return duties so far as been lukewarm but it’s only been three games since he was signed. I still think there’s room to grow there. The punting to me as been a bit suspect up until the Saints game. Robert Quigley did a good job there since the saints had no return yardage. My main issue with special teams is that the kick and punt coverage has been not great. Have they let up a touchdown, no but there are still to many long runs for my liking and they have to keep the field position in the opposing end since the defense has been great.
What do you all think? How did we do?