Evaluating the New York Jets’ Final 53 Man Roster

How did the New York Jets do with the final 53-man roster? Where are they deep? Are there any surprises?

The preseason is finally over and the regular season is upon us. Time for all of the speculation to come crashing to an end and for the games to finally count. The New York Jets are ready to do battle in Todd Bowles’ second season. On Sept. 11th, the Jets take the field at MetLife Stadium to take on the Cincinnati Bengals and off we go.

All that stood in the way of the regular season was to create the final roster, which you can view here on the team’s website. Some interesting moves were made, some moves that people hoped would happen, and one player remains that many hoped would be off the team.

New York’s roster certainly looks quite different in a few key areas. However, there are also many familiar faces returning as well. That being said, the roster as a whole stands to be evaluated as they look to repeat their success (or even improve) from last year.

So how did the Jets do in constructing their 53-man roster? What were the surprise moves? Are they deep enough to succeed? Let’s discuss.

Sep 1, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith throws the ball prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Offense

We start with the elephant in the Jets’ locker room, Geno Smith. He didn’t play in the preseason finale, leading some thought he might be leaving in a trade, while others believed he was secure in his No. 2 position. As Darryl Slater of NJ.com reported following a Bowles’ conference call, Smith was fully entrenched as the backup, delighting some and upsetting many others.

The feeling was that, after Bryce Petty was injured against the Eagles, he would be placed on IR to allow the team to keep all four quarterbacks and use only three spots. Petty has remained off of the injured list for the time-being and is one of four quarterbacks being carried on the 53-man roster. It is a somewhat curious move, as teams don’t often carry four quarterbacks. Petty was the one believed to me the odd-man out while many wanted Smith to be the odd-man out.

To me, Smith should have been cut. The reasoning behind the move is that he gives the team the best chance to win if Fitzpatrick goes down. No matter who the backup is, the Jets have serious problems if their starter goes down. This is his team and hey are built for him, it’s over if he has a serious injury. So why not go with the quarterback that they made the investment in? 

At wide receiver, the Jets are blessed with potentially the deepest group in the league. Behind Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker is a young group of guys that are fast and have great hands. Robby Anderson is a star in the making. A great sign is how he catches everything with his hands. He looks like a deep threat to open things up for Marshall and Decker.

The balance of the group includes Quincy Enunwa, Charon Peake, and Jalin Marshall. Enunwa began to come into his own in 2015 and has made solid improvements at the slot position. Marshall has potential in both the receiving game and as a returner. Many thought Jeremy Ross might stick as a veteran returner, but clearly the Jets were looking to go with a youth movement.  They did—and it’s a good one.

At tight end, Jace Amaro is gone, which really was no surprise. This regime didn’t invest in him, and he simply didn’t make the developments necessary to continue with the team. He was picked up by the Titans, so maybe a change of scenery will work for him.

The most nerve-wracking part of this group is the offensive line.

With Breno Giacomini on the injured list, Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana are retained to play right tackle. They were fighting for the position, and nobody really distinguished themselves as the leader. It will be interesting when the depth chart is released to see who the starter is.

The whole right side of the line was not great in the preseason.  Brian Winters is improving, but has never been an eye-opening player from the right guard position. The current roster lists four guards and three tackles, with one player listed as “offensive lineman.” It’s not a ton of depth, but Bowles is banking on versatility while they wait for Breno to return. If the offensive line can hold up, though, the offense will be just fine.

Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) and New York Giants running back Shane Vereen (34) half at MetLife Stadium. New York Giants defeat the New York Jets 21-20. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Defense

The defense has all the makings of being special. Muhammad Wilkerson returned to action in the third preseason game against the Giants and was in the backfield on the first defensive play of the game. He looked in midseason form and ready to dominate. Leonard Williams is leaps and bounds better than he was last season. After his one game suspension, Sheldon Richardson will return to make arguably the best defensive front in the NFL, along with the newly acquired Steve McLendon.

The linebackers are also younger and faster. Of course, David “Hitman” Harris is back to provide his veteran presence and lead the way. He was the third-leading tackle on the team in the preseason and looks like his normal self. The other veterans are Erin Henderson and Bruce CarterLorenzo Mauldin is looking to be an every-down linebacke,r but didn’t look as strong in the run as they would have liked this summer. The group is joined by rookies Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins, along with guys such as Mike Catapano and Josh Martin

Nine linebackers made the group, making them deep at the position. The biggest question will be how they cover in the passing game. However, the front seven will be very difficult to run against without question.

Juston Burris was the most positive surprise in the secondary. He showed a great deal of potential at the corner position, so expect to see him in the rotation to help out Darrelle Revis and company.

Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle were released and many Jets’ fans were relieved. Neither could get on the field for very long and Milliner never looked very good when he did. Categorize these two under “John Idzik Busts,” although Milliner is back with the Jets on the injured list since he went unclaimed.

The Jets only kept three safeties, which is a bit low. They are likely looking to players like Marcus Williams to play a bit of both positions as Todd Bowles is very big on versatility. Five cornerbacks is a decent size, but the group might be a bit thin if some untimely injuries occur.

Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets punter Lac Edwards (4) punts the ball against the New York Giants during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Giants won 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams and Overall

The best news for Jets’ fans is Lac Edwards. The Ryan Quigley era, or some might say error, is over. Quigley was good for a minimum of one shank per game, but that is no more. Edwards has a strong leg, averaging over 46 yards per punt in the preseason. More importantly, he got hang time on every punt. Take out the punt that came back for a touchdown due to some poor coverage and the opponent barely could run on him.

He also dropped 12 punts inside the twenty yard line, which is a big number. In particular, he dropped one that landed on the one yard line that bounced straight up and died at around the three. Field position can change a game and now the Jets have a weapon that many teams will envy in 2016.

Overall, Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan put their stamp on this team. They were looking to get younger and faster and that is exactly what they did. Some choices left them a little bit thin at some positions, but this is a talented team built to win now. If they can get through the early part of their schedule it could be another strong year for the Jets.

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