Rookies, free agents, drops, and flashes
As the New York Jets ended their second preseason game with a loss, their team experienced flashes of being brilliant, easy drops and some players that could be stars this upcoming season.
Alicia Silverstone was probably best known for her role in Clueless. She and Brittany Murphy shared a crush on Christian, the new kid in school, but Murphy’s character is wary, not sure if she should put herself out there lest she is rejected or otherwise disappointed.
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This image goes a long way to describing the way a fan encounters the rookies and undrafted free agents during the preseason. All shiny and new, full of youthful energy, they say all the right things. Will they meet your inevitably impossible expectations? Or will they “drop the ball”?
Maybe you give in to your crush, at least for the equivalent of a first date. After all, they have the “measurables,” sound humble but confident (“I’m just trying to learn all I can from the veterans, correct my mistakes and play faster”), and have shown “flashes” (word of the month). Your friend will be waiting by the phone for the inevitable end of night call.
Wide receiver Charon Peake looks strong but also dropped what should have been a clean catch on at least one occasion. He is big, long and physical and should help the Jets in the red zone, but only if he catches the ball. The drop seems like an anomaly for him as he consistently catches the ball with his hands.
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Undoubtedly it was wide receiver Robby Anderson who scored big with 130 yards receiving mostly on two long throws from quarterback Bryce Petty.
But more impressive than the two big plays was Anderson’s obvious ability to get open for quarterback Geno Smith on consecutive plays.
He was giving the defensive backs fits all night.
He is another young receiver who catches the ball with his hands.
With Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa now occupying the top three wide receiver spots, the Jets will have some happily difficult choices to make. Marshall, Peake, and Anderson look the best, but Ross is no joke either and, like Jalin Marshall, flashed as a returner in the kicking game.
Add the veteran Kenbrell Thompkins and the injured Devin Smith and what you have are some very difficult choices for Bowles and company–a good problem to have. Can any of these players be part of a trade for position depth?
Fun to remember when worries abounded that owner Woody Johnson followed Rex with another defense-oriented head coach who would focus exclusively on the defensive side of the ball and push the general manager to follow suit. B. Marshall, Ryan Clady, Matt Forte and now a plethora of young talent at the receiver position, in addition to going all out to find the next franchise quarterback, argues convincingly against any such concerns.
The rookies and undrafted free agents Maccagnan have brought in have flashed and impressed on multiple occasions. These guys are committed to both sides of the ball and special teams to boot (the best-looking unit in this game).
Aug 19, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jalin Marshall (89) catches a pass in front of Washington Redskins cornerback Mariel Cooper (32) in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
If we’ve begun to discuss drops, then we are obligated to talk about the tight ends. To beat our metaphor to a pulp, someone needs to have the talk with tight end Jace Amaro (or at least head coach Todd Bowles does). Fans want Amaro to succeed. He adds speed and athletic talent to a position they more or less vacated last year.
Amaro focused on many aspects throughout the offseason, worked himself into shape, changed his diet and began getting a normal night’s sleep. He’s not the new kid; he’s the reformed bad boy; he’s John Travolta in Grease. However, all the workouts in the world cannot make up for stone mitts.
To this point—and again against the Washington Redskins—Amaro shows little evidence outside of practice of having soft hands. It looked particularly bad for him after tight end Zach Sudfeld caught a beautiful touchdown pass from Petty. Fate smiled on him though as Sudfeld later spit the football out like old chewing gum and Kellen Davis did the same. Does anyone want this position?
Despite his drops, the Jets will retain Amaro if only because his ceiling is higher and his age lower than Sudfeld and Davis. Whatever it means for Amaro, the Jets cannot be happy with the continued failures at tight end.
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Overall, the Jets are heading in the right direction. It speaks to this organization’s commitment to patience and excellent development of its young players. Jet’s fans, make no mistake, the Bowles-Maccagnan team is worth the emotional commitment