It went down fast and happened furiously. In a flash the New York Jets wide receiving corps underwent a major makeover, doing so at hyper free agency speed. Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith were gone. Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason were brought in. A host of rookies led by Jeremy Kerley who has impressed many with his slot speed may pitch in as well, add former Colts offensive guru Tom Moore to the 2011 mix, and you have two unique units from the same organization in the span of just one offseason.
Who will be the better of the two? The mainstays when comparing the groups are the entire Jets offensive line, and third year QB Mark Sanchez. Veteran Tony Richardson will no longer be there to help pass block anymore either which could be a factor. However, in comparing those in the skill position itself over these successive years, we have decided to focus on five factors:
THE TOM MOORE EFFECT ON KELLER: The Jets offense was set back with the Santonio Holmes four game suspension to start 2010, not Dustin Keller though. The Jets TE emerged with less mouths to feed downfield only to settle back into the shadows as Holmes late game theatrics began to take hold upon his arrival. If Tom Moore can help design the offense featuring the TE position as he did in Indy with Dallas Clark, the passing game will open up outside, thanks to Keller’s work in between the hashes.
THE SEVENTEEN BATTLE: Edwards wore the jersey number, now Burress will. Braylon had a very solid 2010 campaign, however it almost never happened thanks to a drinking and driving incident in September. Burress himself has been out of football due to his gun issue two years back. Both players possess a penchant for making mistakes off the field but at the height of their games, Burress has always been the better player and bigger threat.
Plax turns 34 today though, and could be rusty due to the long layoff, as far as game speed goes. Edwards, despite his solid year holding onto the ball as he did most of last season, still has a reputation for the dropsies. The winner of the 17 battle, will go a long way in determining which year provdes the Jets with a better overall group.
HOLMES IS HOME FROM THE START: Santonio Holmes, the Jets first free agent signing weeks back, will be there from week one this time around and his chemistry with Sanchez was apparent from the start. It really came to light during the many game saving plays the two often made together. Picking up in 2011 where they left off in 2010 will help the Jets force the defense to over focus on one side of the field, thus providing room for Keller, Burress, and whoever plays the slot position, to maneuver.
DOES MASON STILL HAVE IT? : Jerricho Cotchery did not want to be a third wide receiver anymore, while veteran Derrick Mason had no problem with the role. In fact Mason said he chose the Jets not because of what he feels is a real opportunity to go all the way. If Mason can be sure handed, still find space inside of the zone as he has done for years, breaking off a big play every so often, then the loss of the trustworthy Cotchery will sting alot less. The chains will also keep moving for the Jets.
JEREMY WHO? : Rookie Jeremy Kerley seems to be the talk of camp. The current frontrunner for the one to watch in the “diamond in the rough” category. First on the depth chart at kick returner, punt returner, and a sure bet to compete for the starting slot job, any solid contribution from the former TCU Horned Frog could ease the pain caused by the departure of the versatile Brad Smith.
THE AGE FACTOR: Burress and Mason are older than Edwards and Cotchery, Kerley however is a rookie. With Holmes and Keller as the mainstays and both under the age of 30, as long as the two new Jets veteran WR’s can hold up physically, the 2011 version of the Jets passing attack may have more inside speed, with veteran hands as well. The current group will also possess more outside height and red zone potential than in 2010.
Games are not played on paper. Names don’t catch passes, players do. The 2011 Jets WR corps has the potential to be a better unit than last year’s group should they be able to stay healthy, while the veteran newcomers acclimate quickly to the playbook. The added punch of help provided by one of the rookies at camp, namely Kerley, could be the icing on the cake.
Jets Nation Spoke Out On Twitter:
@turnonthejets Hard to argue that bringing Holmes back was the #jets best offseason move.
@Disable_MMi 2011 WR corps. Believe we upgraded, plus a full year of Tone and a breakout season for Sanchez will all factor in…Another thing overlooked is Tom Moore’s impact. Expect a lot of Keller in the slot, or split wide as well.
@McCHief1961 I would feel better if we had a proven speed burner.
@smisr jets 2011 will rock this yr not cause of mercs we hired but surprise younger talent. #11 (Kerley)
@Ryanfire1010 ALL depends on health. 2 older Wr’s, 1 in his prime that sells out ever play, and maybe 2 young guys. Should be interesting…Even though he is a TE Keller split out has to be considered a slot receiver and his production will help.
@Z_Sibony 2011 because of the addition Jeremy Kerley…he is a playmaker. Point Blank.
@boldgrab from what Derrick mason is showing so far this years should be considerably better plus holmes will prob improve