New York Jets Skill Position Overview

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The New York Jets have had an active offseason on the offensive side of the football. Yes, adding two wide receivers, a right tackle, a quarterback and a running back is active. However, there has been a predominantly negative narrative about the current construction of their offense. It is a unit that isn’t a finished product (ATTN 12 draft picks, training camp cuts and summer waiver wire pickups) but let’s take a look what they currently have, both from the negative narrative perspective and from a more pragmatic one.

WIDE RECEIVER

Eric Decker

Negative: #2 WR who is being miscast as a #1 WR. CAN’T DO NOTHING WITHOUT PEYTON! Came to New York for the BRIGHT LIGHTZ of his reality show.

Pragmatic: Top 25 wide receiver in the NFL who is entering his prime. Versatile enough to play X, Z and in the slot. Will be immediate and substantial upgrade to the Jets group of receivers. In a perfect world, would be primarily the team’s X or split end. However, Marty Mornhinweg will move him around formation and get him in position to frequently be the primary target on passing plays. Mornhinweg tried to do this with Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes last season, hence why the Decker signing was so important.

Jeremy Kerley

Public Perception: SLOT. SLOT. SLOT. Hey, that guy isn’t quite as awful as the rest of the Jets mishmash of garbage at wide receiver the past few years. SLOT. SLOT. SLOT.

Pragmatic: A good NFL receiver, who has produced despite horrifically inconsistent quarterback play. Yes, Kerley excels in the slot primarily. However, he has produced on the outside of the formation as well. If the season started today, he would be the Jets clear cut second best overall receiver and merit the second most playing time and targets at the position.

Stephen Hill

Negative: Disappointing through two years. Likely on the roster bubble.

Pragmatic: Disappointing through two years. Likely on the roster bubble, although he would need a really quiet summer and the Jets to draft a receiver or two to truly be sent packing via a cut or trade.

David Nelson

Negative: Borderline roster player who isn’t worth being noted when discussing the team’s plans at receiver in 2014 or for the long term.

Pragmatic: Rangy player, who excels in the slot despite his size. Think of him as a very poor man’s Marques Colston in that regard. He provides good depth and veteran experience and is capable of being a spot starter, as shown down the stretch last season. If the season started today, he’d see a good chunk of reps on the outside opposite of Decker.

Jacoby Ford

Negative: NOT DESEAN JACKSON SO IT WAS STUPID.

Pragmatic: Brought in to be the team’s kick returner or compete with a draft pick for the returner spot. He has higher upside than Clyde Gates, Greg Salas and Saalim Hakim as a depth receiver and special teams player.

RUNNING BACK

Chris Ivory: 

Negative: Just lost his job to Chris Johnson. One poorly football educated beat writer characterized him as a “short yardage” back.

Pragmatic:  The team’s most talented running back, who when healthy is their lead back, particularly on 1st and 2nd down. He is a nonfactor in the passing game and has major durability concerns, hence the sense behind adding Chris Johnson.

Bilal Powell

Negative: Just lost his roster spot to Chris Johnson.

PragmaticJack of all trades backup who is a strong inside runner but also is competent in the passing game. Johnson acquisition has limited impact on his roster spot. He is the primary backup to Ivory, who will inevitably miss time and remain active in the passing game. 

Chris Johnson

Negative: Washed up. Waste of money. The Jets were foolish to invest in him as their lead running back. 

Pragmatic:  Ivory is still going to be the primary ball carrier on 1st and 2nd down with Powell backing up in that role. Johnson is a needed edge and passing game weapon for a Jets offense low on playmakers and people who can score touchdowns. He is their fastest skill position player and their best option on a screen pass, something Marty Mornhinweg likes to dial up frequently. The Jets very commonly sent two running backs into routes last season and they were most often Bilal Powell and Tommy Bohanon. It will now be Bilal Powell and Chris Johnson.

Mike Goodson

Negative: He is gone.

Pragmatic: He is probably gone.

Tommy Bohanon

Negative: He needs a less prominent role in the offense.

Pragmatic: He needs a less prominent role in the offense.

TIGHT END

Jeff Cumberland

Negative: The Jets need a starting tight end.

Pragmatic The Jets still need help at tight end. Cumberland is best utilized as a situational receiving tight end and nothing more. He struggles with blocking substantially and inconsistent with his route running and catching the football.

Zach Sudfeld

Negative: One doesn’t really exist. If anything, many Jets fans slightly overrate Sudfeld who is basically very similar to Cumberland, with maybe more upside.

Pragmatic: Will likely be the team’s third string tight end after the NFL Draft.

QUARTERBACK

Geno Smith

Negative: Vick won the job.

Reality: The Jets organization wants Geno Smith under center week 1. Smith progressed nicely in the final month of the 2013 season and should improve with a full offseason under his belt and will be helped by the new weapons around him. Barring an injury or a surprising preseason meltdown, Smith will be under center week 1.

Mike Vick

Negative: Washed up. Turnover prone. Will start for Jets and fail.

Reality: Upgraded their backup quarterback spot substantially and was the best available free agent quarterback on the market. He is very turnover prone but hopefully is only needed in case of an injury to Smith. If Smith does struggle or get hurt, Vick is capable of coming in and winning a game or two, much more so than anybody the Jets had at backup quarterback in the past five years.

  • Steve Windeler

    I think we’ll lose the FB position all together, and either Goodson(If he’s free)at 700k, or a draft pick will be the 4th/pass catching RB, or a draft pick. Ford could be that 2nd pass catcher out of the backfield as well if he’s healthy a year removed from Lisfranc surgery. We can use a TE, or a Sheldon in short yardage. Bohanon is a waste of a roster spot.

    Geno wins the starting job unless he completely embarrasses himself. I don’t get these people saying Vick the starter. Vick is a one year rental, and he offers no value moving forward. If Geno stops progressing we’ll go another direction next year. Maybe a mid round pick from this year.

  • Steve Windeler

    You know Decker has lined up in the backfield 5 times. In the slot he has around a 90% catch rate. Marty(and Geno) will love this underrated player. He also can return punts for what it’s worth. He’s the smartest guy on the team.

  • Big Al

    good analysis joe,, jets need to show me something and move up in the draft,, need ebron desperately, get corner with 2nd pick

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  • RJ

    Big Al? They need to show you something by moving up in the deepest draft in years? stop

  • Mike Z

    Excellent post Joe. I agree on all points. It shows our need for a playmaker at 18 and a Tight End who can make an immediate impact in 2nd round. I worry that the “draft best player on board” mantra, while understandable, could hold back the Jets from making some noise THIS year. If we can grab Evans, Cooks or Beckam at 18 and either Nicklas or Seferian-Jenkins in the 2nd round then we I think we have a legitamite shot of contending. With 10 other picks I’m sure we can get a solid corner, safety and OLB. I think its a lot easier for Ryan to coach up a midround defender then hope to find a diamond in rough for our needed playmakers on O. In other words if they can solidify offense I think we can rely upon Rex to figure out how to fortify the issues at CB and Safety.

  • Frank Antonelli

    Very fair analysis. The one thing that is for certain is that there will be surprises. Some players will over achieve and some will disappoint. The NFL is very unpredictable and almost anything can happen. Imagine what the Broncos regular season would look like without Peyton Manning. If the Jets can stay healthy and have a decent offense that keeps the defense off the field much more so than last year then anything is possible.

  • Jeremiah Johnson

    While I think most folks agree T-Bo was better than Lex Hilliard, his performance was still underwhelming. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of competition he faces in camp.

    The TE position is clearly the Jets biggest weak spot. Cumberland & Sudfeld should be battling for the 3rd TE spot imo. In a perfect world, the Jets would sign a veteran TE along with whatever rookies they draft or sign as UDFAs.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Agree on the need at TE Jeremiah. Very curious to see how aggressively they address the need in the NFL Draft and with a potential veteran addition.

  • Joe Caporoso

    Very fair point Frank. Really hoping guys like Ivory and Kerley can give us a full 16 games this season. Thanks for reading!

    Mike Z – Thanks! I am a pretty big fan of ASJ and would be happy with him in round two. Curious to see if the Jets would go CB or WR in round 1 and then maybe trade back into the back end of round 1 to target Amaro, considering all the ammo they have

  • Joe Caporoso

    Good point Steve. Decker is underrated by many. He is a playmaker who has the ability to move around the formation and hurt a defense from a variety of spots

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