New York Jets’ Roster Preview: Offense
Jun 17, 2014; Florham Park, USA; New York Jets quarterbacksMatt Simms
(7) ,Michael Vick
and Tajh Boyd (3) with quarterback coachDavid Lee
during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
On Monday I previewed the defense and special teams players that I predict will make the final roster. You can read that here. The total number of players from those areas totaled 28 which leaves 25 more roster spots remaining for the offense. There will be a lot of competition for those spots, especially on the offensive line and wide receiver.
Quarterback – Geno Smith, Mike Vick, Tajh Boyd
It is clear that the Jets believe in Geno Smith. They have been effusive in their praise of the 2nd year signal caller with Marty Mornhinweg saying he will get at least 70% of the 1st team reps in camp and that it was his job to develop Smith. Smith has also been singled out for his offseason work with coaches noting that he is more decisive with the ball, has mastered the playbook and is a more confident leader. Can Mike Vick beat him out? Sure. He knows the offense from his time in Philadelphia with Mornhinweg, despite turning the ball over more than he wants Vick still has a positive TD/interception ratio and he is one of the great dual threat quarterbacks of all-time despite being 33. Will he beat out Smith? I don’t think so. Barring injury the Jets believe that Smith is better than Vick and will give him every opportunity to win the job and a tie goes to the younger player. Much like Sanchez, who went from 12 TDs and 20 INTS in his rookie year to 18 TDS and 12 INTs in year two, Smith will make that leap with the better weapons he has been given. Unlike in other years if Smith falters Vick can come in and win games which is a luxury the Jets haven’t had in recent years.
Tajh Boyd was projected to be a 1st or 2nd round pick a year ago and had a very productive career there at Clemson. He played with Rex Ryan’s son Seth so the Jets were able to scout him extensively especially getting a leg up on how Boyd fits in as a leader and teammate. I see Boyd beating out Simms rather handily because Simms is a mediocre quarterback that has a great arm while Boyd is someone who could possibly develop into a starter in a few years if he fixes some mechanical issues, learns to play under center and makes better reads. Boyd has leadership intangibles and a higher upside and that is what decides the roster spot.
Running Back – Chris Johnson, Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Daryl Richardson
The addition of Chris Johnson changes the dynamic of the Jets backfield. For one, it gives the Jets a speed back that they haven’t had since Leon Washington, and Johnson is in a whole different category than Washington. Johnson has never had less than 1,000 yards and still got there last year despite a torn meniscus that required surgery after the season. He is healthy and very motivated. The other dimension he brings is pass catching. He averages 40 catches per season and is an excellent option on screens and checkdowns. Johnson is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Chris Ivory is supposed to be a between the tackles banger that wears down defenses and he does do that but he also has some explosiveness averaging 4.9 yards per carry in his career and having runs over 50 yards in three of his four seasons. He has hands of stone in the passing game and definitely needs to work on his pass protection to become a better all-around back but he is still only 26. Last year he had 833 yards despite a couple of nagging leg injuries. Bilal Powell is an all-around back who can carry the ball, catch the ball out of the backfield and pass protect. He makes a good 3rd down or change of speed back and has the ability to back up either Johnson or Ivory.
The final running back roster spot will be between Tommy Bohanon, who struggled both in his blocking and receiving as a rookie fullback, Chad Young, a fullback from San Diego State who hits hard and already has a buzz about him, Alex Green, who has bounced around the league for four years and spot duty with the Jets over 13 games last year when Powell or Ivory went down, and Daryl Richardson who is interesting because in his rookie year in 2012 he averaged 4.8 yards per carry on nearly 100 carries and caught 24 passes out of the backfield. then he played 2013 with a turf toe injury and his numbers dipped to 3.1 yards per carry in just eight games played although he still had 14 receptions. The Rams surprisingly gave up on him and the Jets pounced. He could be an emerging talent that can lend even more depth to a group that has seen its share of injuries, especially Ivory. I think this is the year they abandon the fullback position and look for all of their backs to threaten the defense so I believe they keep Richardson.
Dec 8, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) celebrates with centerNick Mangold
(74) and receiverSantonio Holmes
(10) after scoring on an 8-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium. The Jets defeated the Raiders 37-27 Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Offensive Line – D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Breno Giacomini, Willie Colon, Brian Winters, Dakota Dozier, Oday Aboushi, Dalton Freeman, Ben Ijalana, William Campbell (Practice Squad)
The more I listen and read about where people are playing and reactions to their performance I believe that the starters will be Ferguson at LT, Aboushi at LG, Mangold at C, Colon at RG and Giacomini at RT. I’ve heard all positives about Aboushi and pretty much silence regarding Winters. Winters has seen time at RG while Colon is rehabbing his ailments so that may be a clue as well. As camp goes on and he adjusts to the guard position, Dakota Dozier is a player with starter’s ability as well. Dalton Freeman was on the verge of making the team last year before an injury sidelined him and I think he makes the squad this year as Mangold’s backup as well as a backup guard. Ben Ijalana will be the backup tackle but remember Colon has experience at RT and Dozier and Aboushi also are converted tackles. Left guard is so important for the Jets to be at least competent at because covering for Winters really hurt Ferguson’s performance and to a lesser extent Mangold’s too. William Campbell needs another practice squad year to complete his transition from defense to offense. The depth is certainly better this year but the questions are can the guards hold up and carry their weight and can Giacomini replace Austin Howard adequately.
Tight End – Jeff Cumberland, Jace Amaro, Zach Sudfeld
The Jets drafted Jace Amaro in the 2nd round to pair him with Jeff Cumberland in the popular two tight end formations that have popped up around the league. The advantage of having two mismatch tight ends is that it puts pressure on the safeties to defend the seam and the other tight end is usually matched up on a smaller corner giving him a size advantage. Clearing out a safety takes help away from the outside corners and frees up 1 on 1 match ups on the outside. Amaro caught 108 passes at Texas Tech in his senior year and Cumberland has the size and speed to be successful and could break out without as much attention paid to him, but he needs to shore up his hands. Sudfeld is 6’7″ 260 lbs. and still only 25 years old. He flashed ability during the brief time he hit the field last year including two big catches in the big win over New Orleans. Chris Pantale of Boston College has the frame and physicality for the position and is a possibility for the practice squad.
Jun 17, 2014; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets wide receiverEric Decker
talks to media during minicamp at Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Wide Receiver – Eric Decker, David Nelson, Stephen Hill, Jaylen Saunders (Punt Returner), Jeremy Kerley, Shaq Evans (Kick Returner), Quincy Enunwa (Practice Squad)
First things first, there is no such thing as a “number 1” receiver because other than Revis and a small handful of corners no one follows the “number 1” receiver all over the field. If you are creative enough, by lining up in bunch sets, lining up in the backfield, the slot or going in motion, you can find a way to get a free release for the receiver you want more often than not. Eric Decker is a huge addition to the team that makes life a bit easier for the rest of the receiver group and Geno Smith as well. His ability to get deep will draw safety help over the top but his quick cuts and precise route running will help him to get open quickly. David Nelson is the forgotten man. He had 36 receptions with only six games started. Nelson is a possession receiver who knows how to find the open spot in a zone and takes what the defense gives him. He is a nice complement for Decker and Kerley. Kerley led the team in receptions and yards despite starting only eight games due to injury. Despite being the focal point of a defense on 3rd downs, Kerley seems to always make the big catch. He could break out this year with Decker, Amaro and Johnson drawing attention away from him.
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Stephen Hill is on his final chance with the Jets. Hill is 6’4″ 215 lbs., runs a 4.3 forty and is only 23 but bad route running, bad hands and knee injuries have put him in this situation where he needs to perform this year or leave the Jets. Last season, Hill showed signs of progress in the 1st 3 weeks of 2013 with 13 catches for 233 yards and a touchdown, but an awful drop that cost the team the New England game coupled with another knee injury he was not heard from again the rest of the season. Now with more weapons he will get less attention and should be the team’s primary big play target but if he gets injured in camp he may not ever get back on the roster to show if he can harness his potential. Jalen Saunders is extremely quick and shifty and has made an immediate impact at OTAs. He uses his quickness to get off the line quick, avoid jams and get open as fast as possible. Having both he and Kerley on the field at the same time would be a nightmare for opponents as they both pressure and defense quickly and allow the quarterback to make quick, easy throws. Saunders is also an electric punt returner that averaged 15 yards per return playing at Oklahoma. This is not a small college player basing production on potential this is someone who has performed on the biggest of stages in college. Shaq Evans makes the roster over Clyde Gates and Jacoby Ford because of his potential, his return ability and the simple fact that if they cut him he won’t make it to the practice squad because another team will poach him. Quincy Enunwa should make the practice squad and has the skills to be a contributor down the road.
So over these last two articles are the 53 men I predict to make the Jets final roster and what their role will be. On Monday morning I will see how it all fits together and put together some season predictions, including their final record. One week from today is the 1st practice and I can’t wait for it to get here.