Who are the Jets Top Playmakers?

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First a few Monday Updates:

1. The Jets have made a couple of minor moves, signing tryout player tight end Jack Simmons. He made an impression at the recent rookie mini-camp, both with his blocking footwork and his pass catching skills. Simmons was a three year starter at Minnesota. Last season he had 34 catches for 331 yards, with two touchdowns. He obviously has a real shot to make the roster because right now his competition is Kareem Brown and James Dearth. The Jets also added defensive tackle Anthony Harris, who was last in camp with the Carolina Panthers before the 2008 season.

2. Pro Football Talk floated a rumor today out of a Cleveland newspaper that discussed a potential Thomas Jones-Braylon Edwards trade. Unless Jones sits out of mandatory mini-camp on June 9th-June 11th and then misses the beginning of training camp, the Jets aren’t moving the AFC’s leading rusher from last year. Rex Ryan wants to run the ball next year, which means it doesn’t make sense to trade your best running back. The plan is for Jones to finish out his contract and hope that Shonn Greene can develop enough this year to take over for him in 2010. 

3. Rutgers defensive end Jamaal Westerman could be a player to keep an eye on. Rex Ryan had him switch out to strong side linebacker during mini-camp and he impressed the coach with his smooth transition. The Jets pursued him heavily after the draft, and he accepted less money as an undrafted free agent to join the Jets. There are definitely back up spots to be won in the Jets linebacking core, so Westerman has a shot.

Who are the Jets Top Playmakers?

We spend alot of time talking about who the Jets still need to improve their offense, but lets take a look at who on the current roster the Jets will look at to create points:

1. Leon Washington – The Jets most versatile and dynamic playmaker. Washington can score on any given play as a runner, kick returner, wide receiver, and any other place he can get the ball. The biggest problem  has been getting him enough touches. Brian Schottenheimer must find a way to get him the ball at least 12-15 times a game on offense. He probably won’t return punts anymore, which should keep him more fresh for offense and let him focus on kick returns, where he truly excels. Washington had half as many rushing touchdowns as Thomas Jones, on 1/4 of the carries last year, and also added 2 receiving TD’s and a kick return TD. He has the ability to play the traditional half-back position (as he showed in 2006), fullback (for pass plays and misdirection handoffs) slot receiver, split end, and be used on a variety of trick plays. The bottom line is that Schottenheimer’s play sheet should have “GET 29 THE BALL” written on it across the top.

2. Thomas Jones – Jones is a great north/south runner who can excel behind a very good offensive line. He is a one-cut back, who isn’t going to rip off many long runs but can wear on a defense, especially in the fourth quarter. Beyond that, Jones also showed his receiving ability last year by catching 36 passes and 2 touchdowns. After being an awful goal-line/short yardage back in 2007, Jones came back in a big way with 13 rushing touchdowns last year (plenty of credit goes to Tony Richardson and the new offensive line however). Hopefully, the Jets can settle his contract issue for this upcoming season because Jones remains a very good back who can carry the ball 20-25 times a game.

3. Dustin Keller – Outside of Leon Washington, the Jets most difficult player to match-up with. He gashed the Patriots and Titans during the Jets mid-season run last year before fading slightly down the stretch (thanks in part to being in Eric Mangini’s doghouse). Overall he had 48 catches for 535 yards, with 3 touchdowns last season. Keller is too fast for most linebackers to cover, and has a size advantage on cornerbacks and safeties. With Chris Baker in New England and Laveranues Coles in Cincinnati, Keller should be on the field even more this year and be the Jets #2 receiving option behind Jerricho Cotchery. The Jets will especially look to him on third downs and in the red-zone.

4. Jerricho Cotchery – The Jets unquestioned number one wide receiver. Cotchery is probably better suited to be a #2 but still is a very good all around football player. He has great hands and is a strong runner after the catch. However, he lacks deep speed and has never faced the attention that comes with being a #1 receiver for a full season. The Jets are going to need more than 71 catches for 858 yards, with 5 touchdowns from him this year. 

5. Chansi Stuckey/David Clowney/Brad Smith – Who is going to step up from this group? Stuckey was a good #3 receiver for the Jets last year and should keep improving. He is good option on third downs and a tough cover in the slot. Clowney is a burner, who has the potential to be the home run threat the Jets have lacked since Santana Moss. Smith has the speed, height, and versatility to be a major playmaker for this offense but he hasn’t put it all together yet.

  • http://pageantrymagazine.com Angel

    I think the Jets are going to sneak up on a lot of teams this year. We have a solid group of underrated play-makers and some young potential play-makers [Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez, Clowney, Stuckey, Henry, Lowery, Gholston, Greene] that, if they can get it together, can make a huge contribution to the team and add to the surprise. If Sanchez turns out to be a more athletic Pennington with a stronger arm – we are SET for years to come.

    Our saving grace is dependent on 3 things:
    1. The O-Line – These guys have been awesome and are intact. We should see steady improvement in pass protection and a continuation of dominating performances in the running game.
    2. The Secondary – This star-studded defensive backfield will make it very difficult for any team that thinks they’re going to throw the ball all over the place like they did last year.
    3. Coaching staff – I think it was the right call to keep Schotty since it maintains a consistency with a suspect offense. This will prove to be extra important now that we could be starting a new QB. I love everything I’ve heard from Rex Ryan. He seems to be a bright guy with a lot of passion and football knowledge.

  • http://mulenation 16

    Joe,

    I agree the Jet’s running game will be centerpiece in their offense, but with no one to stretch the field vertically, I feel that defenses (NEW ENGLAND IN PARTICULAR)can stack the box and put pressure on the QB thus making the Jets very one dimensional. Like you said, Cotchery is a solid #2 in this league and to be honest Keller is an above average TE at this point in his career. Making a move to deal Thomas Jones for a big time receiver would be a great idea. Shonn Greene will still be a bruising back that can wear on a defense. Running backs adapt the quickest to the NFL so they shouldn’t see such a major drop off. Plus you still have a the versatile Leon Washington. I’m just saying that you can’t win in this league being one dimensional, and on offense that’s exactly what the Jet’s are sharping up to look like.

    Yours in the slot,
    16

  • Joe Caporoso

    16,

    I appreciate your extended and insightful comments…you are right about being one dimensional, which is why the Jets do need another proven weapon in the passing game. It is too big of a risk to rely on Clowney or Brad Smith to become a full time player that can take pressure off Cotchery. Thomas Jones for Braylon Edwards still feels like a long to shot me, unless Jones has an extended hold out. However, I would feel better if they signed a Darrell Jackson or Marvin harrison to add some experience.

    Im on the line,
    9

  • Joe Caporoso

    Angel,

    You make a bunch of good points. Our offensive line is one of the best in the league, although I am concerned if one of the starters gets hurt about who will step in. The secondary should be lights out this year, especially if Sheppard can stay healthy and Rhodes is allowed to be the playmaker he was a few years ago. In terms of the coaching staff, I think it was a smart move to bring Schotty back, although he has to get Leon the ball more. I love the energy/swagger Ryan has brought to the team since coming over.

    Also good work on getting those jerseys changed in madden.

  • bruceharper

    Joe-
    What, in god’s name, are you studying in grad school? BH

  • Joe Caporoso

    BH -

    Political Science