Aug 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterbackGeno Smith
(7) hands off to running backChris Johnson
(21) during the first quarter against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
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The Jets made all of their roster cuts on Saturday getting down to a 53 man squad. On Sunday, they claimed cornerback Leon McFadden from the Cleveland Browns and signed 7 of their 10 allotted practice squad players.
The Good – Geno Smith seems to have taken a leap forward in year two with his poise, footwork and accuracy all improving. He has a full grasp of the playbook and his confidence and leadership ability are showing through. Smith needs to show it in the regular season against opponents game planning against him but the future looks much brighter than it did to start last year. Michael Vick showed that he has enough left in the tank to come in for an injured or ineffective Smith and be able to win ball games. A viable backup quarterback has been a long time issue with the Jets and I am glad to see it resolved.
Most thought that Simms would be a part of the active roster but with the new rules the Jets were able to cut him and luckily for them no team claimed him which allowed the Jets to re-sign him to the practice squad. The rule change allowing two practice squad members who have two full years of play allowed this to happen. Good for John Idzik for creatively being able to carry three quarterbacks with only two counting against the roster.
The Bad – Tajh Boyd was cut, not claimed and as of this writing not a part of the Jets practice squad. A player once thought to be a 1st round pick as late as last year, and Rex Ryan’s hand-picked selection, might have already washed out of the league. I thought he would be a good practice squad candidate and after a couple of years there could be a serviceable backup but it doesn’t seem like that is meant to be.
The Ugly – None
The Good – This is another case of the Jets having their cake and eating it too. Daryl Richardson earned a roster spot and it was mildly surprising when he was cut but using the two year rule the Jets were able to bring him back to the practice squad. Richardson was a starter in his 1st year with the Rams so having that caliber of player on the practice squad is a coup. Chris Johnson has looked terrific with no signs of his knee injury or being worn down after years of being a bell cow for the Titans. Johnson has burst and explosiveness, showing them off in the running and passing game. Johnson may end up having the 2nd most receptions on the team.
Chris Ivory also looked good, mixing his power with underrated speed and agility. Ivory even caught a screen pass and took it for 20 yards which I don’t think he’s done in his career. The Jets would be less predictable if Ivory shows he can catch the ball at least sporadically so teams can stop stacking the box against him. Bilal Powell continues to be the underrated, all-around talent that does whatever is asked of him. He can run, catch the ball out of the backfield, pass block and anything else you need from a running back.
The Bad – Tommy Bohanon is a serviceable full back at best and the Jets could be better served either eliminating or upgrading the position. Bohanon can run and catch out of the backfield, he just isn’t very good at it. He can run and pass block but again he does nothing to stand out in that department either.
The Ugly – None
Aug 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Michael Vick (1) throws a touchdown pass to wide receiverEric Decker
(87) against the New York Giants during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants defeated the Jets 35-24. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
The Good – The Jets showed they had the guts to cut bait on players that tease but just aren’t good enough. The release of Stephen Hill, who apparently blames everyone but himself, and perennial Mr. August Clyde Gates shows that. Hill has all of the physical tools to succeed in the NFL. He is 6’4″ and runs a 4.3 forty yard dash. His other measurables are just as impressive. Unfortunately they don’t measure how you handle pressure. Hill has a terrible case of the drops, the inability to run routes other than the “go” route (run straight deep) or a quick slant (take a couple of steps then angle towards the middle of the field), and balky knees that have caused him to miss time in both of his 1st two seasons. Surprisingly or not, depending on your vantage point, Hill cleared waivers and although he is practice squad eligible under the new rules, Hill has not latched on with a new team.
Eric Decker is an upgrade over any receiver the Jets had last year and his combination of speed, route-running and ability to get off of the line quickly will allow him to be the threat the Jets need. Kerley and Saunders are similar players that are small but very shifty and the ability to get open against man coverage as well as find spots in zones. Finding creative ways to get them off the line of scrimmage without being jammed will be the key to their success. David Nelson is a tall, possession receiver that developed chemistry with Geno Smith when he signed in-season last year. He is a good complement to Decker and Kerley.
The Bad – The Jets have a lot of parts but no real “proven” threat to line up opposite Decker. They don’t have a deep threat other than Decker himself to take the top off of the defense and keep the safeties out of the box. The Jets offense, however, is built around running the ball, and using running backs and tight ends just as much as wide receivers in the passing game. Salas, while the popular preseason star, won’t make much of an impact during the year because he isn’t going to see the field much. For one, the Jets are not going to be in many traditional four WR sets, and second, it is a much different brand of football playing against 1st teamers in a regular season game than 2nd and 3rd stringers in the preseason. Jalen Saunders hasn’t shown much as a punt returner just yet (a 15 yard per return average at Oklahoma and a look at his shiftiness tells me that he will be fine), and Saalim Hakim and Quincy Enunwa are purely special teams guys so the bottom four of the Jets WR rotation are question marks.
The Ugly – Stephen Hill’s agent going off on the Jets for his own client’s failures. Makes himself and Hill look bad.
The Good – Continuity. With the exception of Giacomini the line is the same as last year, which allows them to be comfortable, communicate more easily and grow as a team. With Giacomini and Colon on the same side the team is going to be nasty on the right side. As they mesh look for a lot of the running to be behind the right side of the line. After a down year last year, D’Brickashaw Ferguson looks back to his dominant self this preseason. He has made some key blocks on the successful screens the team has had and his pass blocking looks good as well. Nick Mangold also looks a bit rejuvenated. I think that having to babysit Winters less in his 2nd year has made Ferguson and Mangold revert back to their pre-2013 form. Dalton Freeman was able to come back from season ending surgery and pick up right where he left off in 2013 and make the team thus ending the Caleb Schlauderaff era. Dakota Dozier did a decent job as he transitions from tackle to guard. This will be his “redshirt year” and he should be in line to man one of the two guard positions in 2015.
The Bad – Penalties. The Jets were killed by offensive line penalties this preseason. While there were your holding penalties and false starts, the most alarming was the amount of personal fouls. Giacomini and Colon led the way with two each in the 2nd game against Cincinnati, where the Jets had seven personal fouls. There is a fine line between being aggressive and on edge and rank stupidity. Opponents will try to bait the Jets into these skirmishes and the team needs to be smart and know when to walk away. Brian Winters has been better but still has a way to go, especially pass blocking. Pressure up the middle gives Smith no chance to even pull it down and run. Oday Aboushi challenged Winters through the 4th preseason game but Aboushi’s large amount of penalties did him in.
The Ugly – The aforementioned penalty marred game against Cincinnati.
Aug 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants quarterbackEli Manning
(10) steps to pass as New York Jets defensive endMuhammad Wilkerson
(96) closes in during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
The Good – The Jets have 4 receiving threats (including Pantale on the practice squad) that can cause matchup problems for opposing defenses. The team can, and will, use three tight end sets that opponent would usually match with their goal line defense expecting a run but instead the Jets can spread the tight ends out like receivers and get favorable match ups against linebackers. Jace Amaro, despite struggling early in camp to master the playbook and his new responsibilities, led the team in receiving this preseason. He knows how to use his body to shield off defenders, how to turn a route up field and where the sticks are on 3rd down. He had a nice TE screen go for 20 yards (called back by penalty) as well as a simple pass to the flat that he turned up for 15 yards.
For someone who was supposedly a glorified slot receiver, Amaro caught most of his balls from the traditional in-line position. Good news going forward. Jeff Cumberland, who has battled an Achilles injury, is also able to stretch the field either in-line or flexed out. Zach Sudfeld is a huge target at 6’7″ and him and Geno Smith are still getting their timing down on fade routes and jump balls in the end zone. Sudfeld has shown himself to be a good pass blocker which will serve him well in earning playing time at a crowded position. Chris Pantale came on towards the end of camp and had a beautiful 50 yard catch and run against Philadelphia so it is good that he gets to continue to develop on the practice squad.
The Bad – There is no “blocking” tight end. None of the four are known for blocking well and as much as the Jets are going to run the ball, someone needs to step up and improve their run blocking. Rex Ryan has said that Jace Amaro is blocking well in space, meaning when he is flexed out as a receiver he is blocking well on outside runs and against rushing defensive backs. He has the frame to be a good blocker at 6’5″ 265 lbs. and was in a more pro-type system at Texas Tech in his sophomore year where his responsibilities were primarily blocking.
The Ugly – None
The Good – Obviously this is the best unit on the team and these are the players that will determine the team’s fate this year. If they live up to their potential and get quick pressure without heavy blitzing then they will help the secondary immeasurably. The more rushed the quarterback is, the better the chance of him making a mistake and of course the less time the quarterback has to throw the less the secondary has to cover and the more aggressive they can be. Keeping Barnes, who flashed ability not only to stop the run but to get quick pressure, will help solve the depth problems that tired out Wilkerson and Richardson by the end of the season in 2013. Keeping Hyder and Finau on the practice squad as further insurance against injury and fatigue will also prove fruitful. The development of Richardson as a pass rusher and the continued development of Harrison and Ellis are the story lines to watch.
The Bad – None
The Ugly – None
The Good – This seems like it will be the breakout year for Quinton Coples. Coples has teased with his natural talent flashing for periods of time. He survived a position change to OLB and a preseason ankle fracture to lead the team in QB hits with 50. Coples dropped 15-20 lbs to get faster at the point of attack and he has lived in the backfield this preseason. If his effort stays constant and that quickness gets himself to the quarterback a half second faster than Coples will get 10 sacks and make the defense even more dynamic. Demario Davis has been the most improved Jet and has emerged as the defensive leader. Davis’ coverage skill, his weakness last season, seems to be markedly improved and he is going from sideline to sideline playing like his hair is on fire. Davis also excels against the run and is a good blitzer.
David Harris continues to play against the run well and will make a ton of tackles, especially with the defensive line eating up blockers. With Wilkerson, Richardson, Coples, and Harrison as well as Ellis eating up blockers no one benefitted more than Calvin Pace who had his 1st 10 sack season with the Jets. Whether he can come close to that again is to be determined but he will face advantageous match ups once again. Jason Babin has a long history of getting to the quarterback and he will be put into various favorable matchups on passing downs to highlight his strengths. IK Enemkpali just made plays in the preseason. He had two strip sacks with both coming on the opponent’s final drive and a blocked punt for a safety.
He didn’t get a lot of snaps but his production is there and he will definitely get time on special teams and probably be a situational pass rusher as well. Trevor Reilly played well against both the run and pass. He will mostly see time on special teams as will Jeremiah George. Getting Antwan Barnes back for Week 7 and going forward will give the Jets an even greater arsenal of pass rushers. Barnes made a difference in the 1st quarter of last season bringing a speed rusher into the mix, which is different from the Jets other power rushers. Babin will need to hold that job down until Barnes gets there and then they can possibly use them together which is a nightmare for teams stuck in 3rd and long.
The Bad – David Harris is a coverage liability on crossing routes and against speed backs. It’s been that way for years but it is really starting to show now that he has hit 30 years old. There is no one on the roster right now that can step in and make Harris a two down linebacker, which he is at this point in his career. I’m sure they will leave Davis in on 3rd down and replace Harris with a safety or corner depending on down and distance. AJ Edds played well in coverage but the long-term potential of Jeremiah George won George the roster spot. The Jets currently have three practice squad spots remaining and with only one year of accrued service it seems that Edds is still a possibility.
Jason Babin is a flat out liability against the run as he has shown that not only is he not good at run defense but he flat out doesn’t want to defend against the run. Babin wants to be no more than a situational pass rusher. Calvin Pace is a year older and year further from his prime. He set the edge well against the run well in 2013 and hopefully he still has the ability to do the same in 2014. It is one of the underrated things that Pace does that goes under the radar. There are a lot of young players in backup roles. Enemkpali, Reilly and George are not ready for starring roles yet and Babin is a part-time player so depth is an issue despite the amount of linebackers.
The Ugly – None
Aug 4, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets free safety Calvin Pryor (25) walks out to the field prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
The Good – Milliner appears to have taken the next step in his development and looked like a top corner during camp and his preseason action. He is going to have to be that good when he comes back from a high ankle sprain most likely Week 2. Antonio Allen’s conversion to corner went a lot better than most expected and he only got beaten once and by AJ Green. Green very clearly pushed off on the play in front of the referee which I think would have been called offensive pass interference in a regular season game. Allen isn’t Revis or Cromartie but he is an athletic, rangy athlete who uses his hands well to redirect receivers. There will be growing pains for him but I think he can grow into a quality corner opposite Milliner as the year goes on. Darrin Walls does a good job covering receivers and breaking up passes. He has hands of stone so don’t expect him to intercept the ball but his coverage ability is good and he is the best boundary corner the team has other than Milliner. Allen and Walls playing Week 1 will be good enough to hold down the Raiders.
The Bad – There is no depth, none. Kyle Wilson has been terrible this preseason. He was graded very well as a slot corner by Pro Football Focus although the eye test told us differently. He was embarrassed by Victor Cruz and most of the Bengals. The Jets corner situation consists of a #1 corner with a high ankle sprain, a #2 corner that is a converted safety that is currently going through the concussion protocol. Behind them the slot corner isn’t covering anybody in the slot and when he does he commits penalties. Walls covers well but still is an UDFA and Lankster is much better as a special teamer than cornerback. Leon McFadden was claimed on waivers from Cleveland on Sunday and the former 3rd round pick can play both inside and outside but he isn’t a starter, he will help with depth and is an improvement over LeQuan Lewis who was beaten deep 4 times in 2 games.
The Ugly – Watch the 1st half of the game against the Bengals and the entire game against the Eagles without throwing up. Just try. I dare you.
The Good – 1st round pick Calvin Pryor has been as advertised. He’s hit a receiver and knocked the ball out of his hands, he’s stopped the run, he’s covered well, he’s recovered a fumble, he’s blitzed and forced quick throws and he’s batted balls down at the line of scrimmage showing good awareness. In short, Pryor has been a quick study and has done everything expected of him and more especially since he missed a week with a concussion. Dawan Landry and Jaiquawn Jarrett are both in the box safeties that excel at stopping the run, blitzing and covering small areas mostly in zones.
It’s good that the Jets were able to get Rontez Miles back on the practice squad as he has outplayed both Jarrett and Bush. Miles can easily develop into the player they wanted Antonio Allen to be before his conversion to corner. The team will play a lot of Big Nickel, which is playing 3 safeties at once where 1 safety replaces a linebacker. Antonio Allen used to be the player that became the de facto linebacker and came up to stop the run, blitzed and most importantly covered the tight end. Calvin Pryor and Dawan Landry would either cover a 2nd tight end or back or play a traditional free safety role. Jaiquawn Jarrett is going to get the chance to play the Allen role 1st.
The Bad – Dawan Landry, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Josh Bush cannot cover deep and are consistently late with help over the top. It was what caused the team to get hit with so many big plays in 2013 and if Calvin Pryor doesn’t make his presence felt it will be the downfall of the defense in 2014. The secondary needs help. It needs a very good pass rush and good safety play to hide its deficiencies, at least until Milliner and Allen are 100%.
The Ugly – The 1st half of the Cincinnati game is down right scary. The saving grace is that things got better once Pryor got in but Dalton went out at the point so we don’t know if the correlation is accurate. It is asking a lot of a rookie safety to be a savior of the secondary but the weight of the world falls on Milliner and Pryor to keep the back half of the defense on track so the team can be in games.
K – Nick Folk
The Good – We know how good Folk is. His range on field goals seems to extend to 55 yards and his accuracy last year was impeccable. Can he repeat a 90% accuracy season when his career % is 77%? Sure looks like it so far.
The Bad – As the year goes along his kickoff distance regresses and he allows more returns. That’s not going to change at this point of his career. If the Jets had a punter with better power in his leg, Folk could solely concentrate on field goals.
The Ugly – None
P – Ryan Quigley
The Good – He seems like a nice person. Every so often he gets a nice punt off.
The Bad – He shanks about half his punts with them going about 30 yards. He has trouble pinning opponent’s inside their own 20 even when he is in opposing territory.
LS – Tanner Purdum
The Good – He snaps the ball well.
The Bad – None
The Ugly – None