I was about halfway through extra observations on the New York Jets 27-25 loss to the New England Patriots when news about the Percy Harvin trade dropped. So let’s roll everything together into one mega 24 pack on Harvin, the Jets week 7 loss, the rest of their season and beyond. Grab a drink, make a sandwich and let’s go…
1. Upon further review (and discussion with our man @CoachNolan64), it was a decent start for second year player Oday Aboushi at offensive guard. Considering the short week, there were encouraging signs and he will have a real opportunity to state his case as a starter in 2015 over the next nine games. It will be interesting to see if the Jets give a chance to Dalton Freeman or Dakota Dozier at offensive guard in place of Willie Colon at some point in the second half. It was a strong night on the whole for the offensive line but it is fair to begin wondering if the Jets need to seriously consider a left tackle early in next year’s draft. The clock is starting to tick louder and louder on D’Brickashaw Ferguson.
2. The Harvin trade was officially confirmed today, with the compensation as a conditional SIXTH round pick that could be as high as a fourth rounder. When factored in with the lack of guaranteed money beyond this year, it is nearly impossible to criticize the Jets for this trade. Harvin is too talented and brings too many needed skills to this current roster. There is a reason Seattle was generally praised for acquiring Harvin, a little over a year ago, despite giving up three picks for Harvin including a first rounder. He is electric with the football in his hands, both on offense and special teams.
3. Calvin Pryor probably had his best game of the season on Thursday. If you are a PFF fan, he received his highest grade of the year, was active in the running game, avoided any missed tackles and didn’t have any mental errors in pass coverage. Jace Amaro had a frustrating drop but has now caught 27 of 34 targets for 234 yards in limited playing time, along with holding up well as a blocker. Unless if you are one of those Jets fans who have your heart set on seeing draft picks struggles, it is impossible not to be encouraged by his first seven games. The addition of Harvin should help create more space and better match-ups for Amaro and potentially give the Jets three very talented pass catchers to grow together.
4. Let’s be clear, the Jets failed two point conversion was on Geno Smith. He missed the throw. However, it still remains perplexing to leave Eric Decker on the sideline and not have Chris Ivory in the backfield. You are basically taking away your top two skill position players before the play even starts. All in all though, this was the best game Marty Mornhinweg called this season. He hammered the run, was generally creative with Decker and got Geno on the move. There were a handful of questionable calls but if he coaches at this level for the rest of the season, Ivory, Decker and Amaro (pending more playing time) should remain productive.
5. What about Harvin’s usage in this offense? He is likely going to do a combination of things (we hope at least). Harvin is more of a multipurpose threat than a pure wide receiver. He is going to get Jet Sweeps, handoffs, tosses, reverses and be involved in the Jets refusing to die Wildcat package as a runner. As a receiver, he will be active in the screen game allowing Geno Smith to hopefully compile easy completions with a high opportunity for YAC. Beyond that, he has the speed to take vertical shots, which will open things up in the short to intermediate passing game for Amaro, Decker and Jeremy Kerley. There isn’t much of an excuse for Harvin not getting at least 4-6 carries and 4-6 targets on a week to week basis. Even in games that he isn’t highly productive, he makes the Jets offense more difficult to prepare for and creates better match-ups for everybody else.
6. Chris Johnson has been appropriately dumped on by most to this point but he played well on Thursday. He ran hard, north/south, broke tackles and caught a couple of passes out of the backfield. His role is likely going to be diminished to an extent by the Harvin addition but if he runs like he did against New England, he can still be a valuable week to week contributor.
7. Let’s not forget about Harvin in the return game. He immediately solves a lingering issue on both kickoff and punt returns. This goes from a question mark to a strength for the Jets overnight. Are Walter Powell’s days numbered or will the Jets keep him as a developmental player? Saalim Hakim is still on the roster because of his coverage ability on special teams units.
8. It was David Nelson who took the fall for Harvin, as he was released this morning. Nelson was a productive player in 2013 for the Jets but never got going this season. He was uninvolved in week 1 and 2, struggled with more targets in week 3 and then got banged up. In the meantime, Greg Salas outplayed him and the team brought on TJ Graham and Chris Owusu, making him more expendable. It remains odd that the Jets are carrying 8 wide receivers. Interestingly, 7/8 of the them are over 5-11 (everybody but Kerley). It will be interesting to see if they all stick in the coming week or so and how the team priortizes all their long term potential. Remember, Quincy Enunwa is still on the practice squad and Shaq Evans will be back in 2015 as well.
9. One interesting similarity we could see developing between the Seattle and New York front office is the ability to quickly recognize a mistake and not hesitate to act on it. Seattle invested a ton in Harvin, saw it wasn’t working out and knew they needed to pay Russell Wilson among other players. They cut bait. A few years ago, they traded for Matt Flynn to be their starter but didn’t hesitate to bench him in the pre-season for Wilson. The Jets saw that they weren’t getting the consistent production out of Chris Johnson and Jeff Cumberland that they expected or any production out of Nelson, so they made a move. They didn’t like what they saw from Jalen Saunders, so they cut him. Dimitri Patterson lost his mind, so they cut him. Obviously it is ideal to avoid mistakes in the first place but many teams compound the mistakes by not knowing when to let go.
10. If you are interested in these type of things: The record of the Jets previous six opponents is 25-11. The record of their next six opponents is 15-19, with nobody over .500.
11. It is a shame to see how Antonio Allen has regressed since last year. In the middle of 2013, he was ascending as a playmaker at safety. He was then benched for Ed Reed over the final half of the season. This year, he started out a corner and was OK, then had his playing time heavily reduced and then was put back out at starting safety only to allow two touchdowns the other night. Going forward, Darrin Walls is going to remain the team’s top cover corner but the rest of the secondary’s usage will be interesting to watch. Hopefully, Pryor’s play stabilizes, along with Allen.
12. Through seven games, Muhammad Wilkerson has earned every single bit of the monster contract he is going to receive after this season.
13. The Jets 2012 skill position group: Sanchez, Tebow, Keller, Greene, Hill, Gates, Kerley, Powell, McKnight. The Jets 2014 skill position group: Geno, Vick, Amaro, Ivory, Decker, Harvin, Kerley, Powell, Johnson. Something to think about.
14. Quinton Coples has basically been benched for Jason Babin and played roughly the same amount as Antwan Barnes, who was active for the first time in a year on Thursday (and played well!). Long term, the Jets basically went 0/7 in the 2009/2010 drafts, have already cut their 2012 second round pick (who isn’t on an active NFL roster anywhere) and now have their 2012 first round pick on the bench. Fair to question the drafting and fair to question the player development.
15. Without question, Harvin has character concerns but it has been funny watching the standard post trade or release smear campaign, including the “black eye” Super Bowl story. Like many in the NFL, it sounds like Harvin had plenty of fans in his locker room and plenty of people who didn’t like him. Let’s see how it works out in a new setting. Remember, Brandon Marshall was a train wreck before going to Chicago and it has worked out. Sometimes a change of scenery helps. Sometimes it doesn’t. Fortunately, the Jets aren’t locked into paying anything beyond this season yet and get a 9 game evaluation period.
16. Many people are asking why didn’t the Jets just sign DeSean Jackson? Just a guess and not saying this is the correct line of thinking, considering Jackson’s productive start in DC but remember he is guaranteed money through 2016. The Jets may have not wanted to commit to him that long. Why? Maybe they looked at the two seasons before Chip Kelly and thought his numbers last season were deceiving, maybe they don’t like his size long term, maybe Marty Mornhinweg didn’t lobby for him despite them having productive years together. I don’t know, just a few theories.
17. One thing I’d like to make clear. Despite frequently criticizing Rex Ryan, I do think there is still a good chance he is back next season. Criticizing Rex when many others refuse to or saying the Jets problems are more complex than dumping everything on the current GM, does not equate to #FireRex or Rex is an awful coach or Rex deserves all the blame. In this Twitter world we live in, everything is automatically presumed to be black and white. It isn’t. Rex is a good coach. Rex has many flaws that Jets fans and certain writers conveniently ignore. Is keeping Rex after this season the right move? I don’t know, it still may be. Will he back? If they finish 6-3 or 7-2, I think so. Even if they finish 5-4, it wouldn’t shock me. It is very possible before the season, the Jets publicly said they thought they were a playoff team but behind closed doors knew Rex would get to finish his contract out because this roster would take three offseasons to fully rebuild, so barring a meltdown…he’d be back. Let’s see how it plays out.
RIght now, Rex is 43-44 overall as a HC and 15-27 in his last 42 games. He has a slate of opponents coming up that the Jets have equal, if not superior talent to. Go get some wins.
18. An underrated part of this deal, is that it paints a clearer picture of Geno Smith and his development. You are giving him a fully equipped skill position group the next nine games. Over the last two weeks, he is 43/77 (56%), 416 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT, with 48 rushing yards. Now with easier competition and a better supporting cast, how does he finish the season?
19. Random: After watching routes by Stephen Hill and Clyde Gates for years, it has been a breath of fresh air to watch Eric Decker play wide receiver. He has been everything the Jets have paid for when healthy, which he appears to be now. You don’t shake open on Darrelle Revis for a 24 yard and 18 yard reception, along with draw a holding penalty on him unless you are a top end talent at your position (and yes Decker is a top 25 WR in the NFL). Every game that he has been healthy for, he has been either over 65 yards receiving or caught a touchdown.
20. Random: Just a guess but Harvin will be a game captain at home against Buffalo in 9 days and be the last player called out for introductions. The crowd will also be 30% less insufferable because of the trade.
21. Our regular reminder to Geno Smith to keep running the football. He had 37 yards against the Patriots, which was encouraging to see. Not shockingly, it ended up being his best game of the season. Keep running, Geno.
22. Speed is nice and was much needed.
23. Ironically, the Jets very nearly traded for Harvin in 2009 during the draft. The following season. he shredded them for 5 receptions, 97 yards and 2 touchdowns on Monday Night Football, despite the Jets having the best cornerback duo in the NFL.
24. I’ll give Idzik the benefit of the doubt on trades for right now. Why? He was forced to trade Darrelle Revis immediately after taking the job and got Sheldon Richardson with the pick back for him. He also traded a fourth rounder for Chris Ivory. Not bad work.