A while back we talked about potential break out candidates for the New York Jets. Just as these players experience a meteoric rises, there are numerous players who experience equally drastic falls from grace. While many of these players will likely remain stout or even improve, some regression to the mean has to be accounted for. It is a sad reality but one worth addressing when contemplating the final 53.
Many will scoff at the notion of Damon “Big Snacks” Harrison, a fan favorite, regressing in only his second starting season. He is bookended by two of the most talented defensive linemen in the game. He has a whole starting season now under his belt. What could go wrong?
Well, for one thing, Harrison only saw the field on early downs. He was an immovable object in the run game but struggled to generate a pass rush. He totaled a paltry 10 quarterback disruptions on the season. Rex Ryan values versatility in his defensive players and, should Harrison continue to struggle against the pass, he may lose snaps to more disruptive linemen.
Another angle to consider is that Harrison’s ability caught the league off guard last season. Offensive coordinators likely saw the undrafted nose tackle on the depth chart and saw an opportunity to test the raw prospects mettle. However, with a full season of tape on Big Snacks, play callers will likely be avoiding his area code. While shutting down a whole section of the field is certainly impactful (ala lockdown corner), Harrison’s inability to generate a pass rush (with attention focused elsewhere) will limit his overall impact.
Pace certainly surprised people last year. After an overall underwhelming career in green and white, the outside linebacker recorded ten sacks and two forced fumbles on the season. While Pace deserves credit for his statistical outburst, his performance was likely inflated.
Pace played alongside the best front seven he has had in his time with the Jets. With Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Harrison, and Quinton Coples taking getting all the attention, Pace had an open lane to the quarterback. In fact, only four of Pace’s sacks came as a result of legitimate pass rush. The majority of his sacks and hurries came when the quarterback was flushed from the pocket by one of his more talented linemates.
Ex-Jet Bart Scott gave Chris Nimbley some compelling arguments for the importance of Pace’s role in Rex Ryan’s defense. That being said, Pace is another year older and another year slower. He may know his role in the defense like the back of his hand but that doesn’t mean much when you can’t keep up with the other 21 players on the field. Pace will likely suffer a dramatic dip in production and lose time to players like Garret McIntyre, Antwan Barnes, and Trevor Reilly.
Powell was an underrated contributor on the 2013 Jets. He ran for 697 yards at four yards a clip. He added 272 receiving yards to his stat sheet for a total of 969 all purpose yards. He filled in admirably when Chris Ivory needed spelling and was a reliable third down and check down option. However, similar to Damon Harrison, Powell may regress due more to circumstance than lack of talent.
The New York Jets 2014 backfield is backloaded. Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson will undoubtedly recieve the majority of touches. After them, Powell will likely be battling the explosive Daryl Richardson for touches. Powell may be reliable but Richardson provides an element of explosiveness that the Jets backs lack (outside of Johnson). All four have a good shot of making the roster but the lack of snaps to go around will likely hurt Powell’s production.
Jeremy Kerley will likely be the second receiving option to Eric Decker in 2014. Normally, playing opposite Decker would bode well for a player like Kerley but this is actually a demotion for the wide out.
Kerley is an effective player and an important tool for the Jets. Last season he was the de facto starter at wide receiver getting the most targets, receptions and yards. That being said, he will likely experience a dip in production with more targets going Decker’s way. Kerley’s talent and usefulness will still be evident but his overall impact will likely wane.