New York Jets – Natural Regression

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.

Damon Harrison

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.

Calvin Pace

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.

Bilal Powell

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

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.

Author: Cole Patterson

Cole has attended American University in Washington DC and is currently completing a double major in history and global communications at Ramapo College in Northern NJ. He has served as an NFL Analyst for a local DC radio show, Fanatic Radio. He lives and dies with the New York Jets. Cole will help lead Jets coverage and analysis.

  • Interesting picks! I actually forgot the Jets picked up DRichardson. I kind of hope that in this offseason snacks gets coached up and is more of a force in the pass game. As for me, I would be shocked if Colon doesn’t drop off quite a bit from last year.

  • Regarding Snacks, we knew he wasn’t going to be in the backfield every play, but he made it a lot easier for his teammates to get back their. All while devouring any RB to step his way. Is it really regression if no RBs run his direction?

  • KAsh

    I have to disagree with your definition of “regress.” Thomas Mueller was a standout starting forward for the German national soccer team that just became world champions; he has scored five goals in each of the past two World Cups and, at 24 years old, is only six goals away from tying the record for most goals that Miroslav Klose, who played across from Mueller in this tournament, just established. Yet, he is going to go back to Bayern Munich and be a backup (the team’s coach does not like his play style). But it would be crazy to say he regressed from the World Cup to his return to Bayern Munich.

    Kerley will not be fed the ball on third-and-long and as the exclusive checkdown receiver, but that does not mean he forgot how to do what he did last year. Powell will be behind a talented power rusher and a perennial Pro-Bowl speed back, and he might get cut in favor or Richardson, but he has not regressed. Pace can regress, but he was not at a high level to begin with. Besides others flushing the QB out of the pocket, Pace’s ten sacks also included coverage sacks and the almost unbelievable multiple times that the opposing o-line forgot to block him. Pace can get exposed if there are injuries to the other starting players or his regression gets to the point that his tackling form breaks down, but if it is the latter, his experience is no longer a strength and he will be phased out. As long as Harrison remains a dominant nose tackle, by definition, he cannot regress. (But I had a good laugh at how you tried to cast offenses avoiding Harrison in a bad light: they are going to avoid running at Harrison’s A gaps, so they are going to run at the B gaps manned by an All-Pro on one side and a DROY on the other, but that seems dumber than running at Harrison, so they are left with the C gaps, one side of which is held down by Coples, the other by a combination of Pace and Allen. Yeah… good luck with that.)

    The Jets are a very young team, so there are few candidates for big regressions. Harris could go back to his 2012 form. Milliner’s December performance could not carry over. Ferguson could struggle, especially if Colon does not return to the lineup and Aboushi starts at left guard. You could include most of the offensive line in this list. These are players for which there is no ready-made replacement on the roster and nothing but hope and good feeling keeping the fan base from panicking.

  • The Dude Abides

    Kerely deff won’t drop off. He may get less targets but when he does get them it will pay off more. Powell will still be on the team. Bank on Ivory being hurt at some point and Johnson will be diet Johnson with limited snaps. Pace deff could deff drop off because he’s old as dirt, snacks may only see better numbers as the rest of the line improves. I just want football already!