The New York Jets selected wide receiver Quincy Enunwa in the 6th round of the 2014 NFL Draft. At 6 foot 2, 225 pounds and with a 4.4 forty, Enunwa turned heads as a potential late round steal due to his physical attributes. He basically red-shirted his rookie year but last season newly hired Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey found creative ways to utilize one of the most athletic players on the Jets roster. Despite not putting up flashy stats (22 receptions, 315 yards in 12 games), Enunwa was quietly an x-factor on a Jets offense that exceeded expectations.
Enunwa is listed as a receiver on the Jets depth chart but the reality is that he functions as the team’s primary H-Back. He is a hybrid tight end/receiver who lines up predominantly in the slot or directly offset from the tackle. The bulk of Enunwa’s contributions last year came as a blocker, despite demonstrating potential as a pass catcher. During his four game suspension last season, which spanned from week 7 to week 10, the Jets went 1-3 and averaged 56 rushing yards per game, well off their season average of 83.4 yards. They also allowed eight sacks over those four games, after only allowing two over the first five games of the season.
Despite being used to occasionally support the tackles in pass protection like many tight ends/H-Backs, Enunwa is also an aggressive run blocker, particularly for a college wide receiver. The Jets regularly put him in the box and have him set the edge with either a cut or drive block. Players like Kellen Davis and Jeff Cumberland lack the athleticism and general talent to do this and players like Jeremy Kerley are simply too small (for the 1,600 questions that came last year about why Enunwa as playing over Kerley).
Enunwa’s value goes beyond being a good blocker. He does the dirty work in the passing game that helps free up Eric Decker and Brandon Marshall. The ability to run clear out and rub routes is vastly underrated and immensely critical to the Jets offense. These plays never show up in the stat sheet but are a huge part of why you regularly saw the Jets top receivers look so wide open.
The releases from Enunwa below creates touchdowns for both Decker and Marshall. He is able to get off the line and hold up the near defenders enough to create an open lane for the primary target to put points on the board.
He didn’t just do this around the red-zone either. Below, his clear out route creates a huge window for Decker’s dig route. Despite his size, which comes in handy on the end-zone rub routes, Enunwa has top end speed which allows him to also contribute here.
Below he frees up Decker in a bunch route combination, to help the Jets move the chains on a 3rd and short.
For all the dirty work Enunwa does, he flashed potential as a pass catcher throughout the season. He was rough around the edges as a route runner and with how he caught the football out of Nebraska. There were still flashes of that last season, as he compiled a handful of drops and occasionally struggled to get open.
Yet, he began to progress in the later parts of the year. Below, he runs a well executed deep out cut and rips well out of his break for a big gain. He then is able to free himself up down the seam and find an open window against zone coverage to convert a third down.
The play he is probably most remembered for last season showed off his tremendous athleticism, as he took a simple out route and turned it into massive gain in overtime against New England. You think the Jets are scheming up more ways to get him in the open field?
Enunwa is a unique player who is increasingly valuable in today’s NFL. He has the size to block like a tight end but the speed to get open and make plays like a wide receiver. There is nobody on the current roster who has his combination of skills and his role should only grow in the coming season, even with the return of Jace Amaro. There is no reason both cannot function in the offense and Enunwa’s athleticism will likely lead to more opportunities in the passing game.
Photo Credit: NewYork Jets.com