This is part 3 of the Jets’ best players over the past 25 years. We will be going position group by position group in addition to front office, owner, coaching staff and even stadium and training camp locations.. There have been lots of ups and downs over the past 25 years but this will highlight the great players as well as the fan favorites and best moves. This week we will be going through the full backs and tight ends. Some of the unsung players on the Jets the past 25 years.
Starting Full Back & Tight End:
Richie Anderson – Anderson was clearly not only the best Jets fullback and tight of the end past 25 years, but in the history of the franchise. A 6th round pick out of Penn State, Anderson spent 10 seasons with the Jets. While Anderson started slowly in 1993, he picked it right up and became a reliable blocker for guys like Curtis Martin and Adrian Murrell. Anderson’s best trait was his hands and ability to be a security blanket out of the backfield. Anderson enjoyed the best year of his career in 2000 when he set a franchise record with 88 catches as well as, a pro bowl appearance. The Jets enjoyed a great spell while Anderson was in his prime playing in 3 sperate playoffs. Anderson will go down as one of the most under rated and underappreciated players over the past few decades with the Jets.
Stats: 10 Seasons: Regular Season – 134 Games 305 Catches, 2449 Yards, 10 TDs, 191 Carries, 722 Yards, 2 TDs
Playoffs: 4 Games 10 Catches, 119 Yards, 2 TDs, 3 Carries, 14 Yards
Awards – Pro Bowl (2000), Franchise Single Season Record Catches FB (88)
Dustin Keller- Keller was a 1st round pick (30th overall) out of Purdue. The pass catching tight end spent 5 seasons with the Jets before signing with the Dolphins, only to suffer a career ending knee injury before ever playing a regular season snap. Keller was a very talented route runner and pass catcher and while his production doesn’t touch a Tony Gonzalez, he certainly provided a solid security blanket and red zone threat for Brett Favre and Mark Sanchez. The most exciting time of Keller’s career was the 2009 playoff run he hauled in 3 touchdowns and was a crucial part of the ground and pound offense. Keller was clearly for me the most talented and productive tight end of the past 25 years for the Jets.
Stats: 5 Seasons: Regular Season – 72 Games 241 Catches, 2876 Yards, 17 TDs
Playoffs: 6 Games – 26 Catches, 302 Yards, 3 TDs
Best Homegrown Talent:
Jareld Sowell: While Sowell may go under the radar for most, he is someone who was always a reliable and strong player for Gang Green. A 7th round pick, Sowell was Richie Anderson’s backup for the beginning of this career before stepping into a bigger role once Anderson went with Parcels to Dallas. Sowell spent 9 seasons with the Jets and was around and a part of one of the best Jets runs as a franchise from ‘98-‘06. Considering the value, they got in return for a 7th round full back, I think its pretty clear Sowell deserved mention.
Stats: 9 Seasons: Regular Season – 137 Games 147 Catches, 1188 Yards, 5 TDs, 61 Carries, 244 Yards, 1 TD.
Playoffs: 5 Games 6 Catches, 20 Yards, 1 TD, 1 Carry, 2 Yards.
Tony Richardson – Richardson who was voted 2nd team all decade and a 3-time pro bowler joined the Jets as his career winded down in 2008. While he may have been 37 when he joined the Jets, he still had a lot left in the tank and was a crucial locker room leader for Gang Green during the fruitful spell of 2008-2010. While you don’t see it in the numbers, Richardson was an elite level blocking full back and was fantastic signing by Mike Tannenbaum.
Stats: 3 Seasons: 48 Games 31 Total Touches, 171 Yards.
Postseason: 6 Games 4 Total Touches, 16 Yards.
Chris Baker – The NY native Chris Baker will always go down as a fan favorite for his famous nickname “Chris Baker the Touchdown Maker”. A 3rd round pick out of Michigan State, Baker enjoyed some good moment with Gang Green being a reliable blocker and pass catcher for Chad Pennington and others. Baker enjoyed a 7-season run with the Jets going to the playoffs in 3 of them. The nickname lives on to this day and will always be someone Jets fans remember fondly.
Stats: 7 Seasons: 51 Games 145 Catches, 1505 Yards, 12 TDs
Playoffs: 5 Games 12 Catches, 109 Yards, 1 TD
John Connor – While John Connor may not have had the all pro level career fans expected after his performance in Cortland on Hard Knocks in 2010, he will always be a fan favorite. “The Terminator” as he was coined famously that summer, Connor dished out punishing blows on special teams and in the back field during his 4-year career with the Jets. Connor may not have been Richie Anderson with his route running but he punished defenders and “The Terminator” will always be a Jets fan favorite.
Stats: 4 Seasons: 47 Games 33 Total Touches, 161 Yards, 3 Total TDs
Best That Never Was –
Kyle Brady: While Brady wasn’t a bust, he was certainly incredibly underwhelming in his time with the Jets. That as well as the fact the Jets took him 9th overall and there are 3 Hall of Famers (Sapp, Law, Brooks) all taken after him in addition to multiple other pro bowlers. Brady came in with massive expectations and while he enjoyed an average season in 1998, his career overall with the Jets was very disappointing considering the excitement and expectation.
Stats: 4 Seasons: Regular Season – 63 Games 93 Catches, 949 Yards, 10 TDs
Playoffs: 2 Games 3 Catches 28 Yards.