Yesterday I released reasons 1 and 2 of the 5 reasons the Jets can take the AFC East this year. Today I have reasons 3 and 4, maybe the most important things. It address the biggest remaining holes on the New York Jets. Going into 2013, fans and experts are not thrilled with the Jets wide receivers, safeties and tight end situations. I address why these may not be as dismal of voids on the team as people think.
Reason #3: Stephen Hill has Demaryius Thomas like potential with Good QB Play
People say the Jets don’t have receivers, I say don’t sleep on Stephen Hill. Remember that the Jets traded up for him last year in the 2nd round after posting an amazing combine. Stephen Hill reminds me of Demaryius Thomas in that they came out of the same Georgia Tech option system, are about the same size and had below average rookie seasons on teams that desperately needed a leader at quarterback. In Denver, Thomas had Orton/Tebow his rookie and sophomore seasons. In New York, Hill had Sanchez and Tebow. Thomas raked in a measly 283 yards and 2tds to Stephen Hill’s 252 yards and 3tds. Both players gained most of their season stats in week 1 when their confidence was its peak. In week 1 of his rookie season, Thomas pulled in 97 and a td, recording the second most catches by a rookie in franchise history. In Stephen Hill’s debut game, he was the 3rd best receiver in fantasy football by pulling in 86 yards and 2 tds. Once a real QB in Peyton Manning stepped into the Denver locker room in 2012 Thomas’ stats all of the sudden bloomed into 1434 receiving yards and 10tds. The Jets have Holmes who is a solid #1 and Kerley an underrated but solid slot receiver. I’m not saying Geno is Peyton Manning, but I’m confident having a young leader who can throw with some accuracy and zip will be enough to wake Hill up and give the Jets a solid starting receiving corps.
Reason #4 – Rex Ryan and Dawan Landry Will Lead the Safeties to Success, The Next Breakout Tight End May Already be on the Roster
I’m expecting Dawan Landry to come into New York in a similar way that Yeremiah Bell did last year, looking to prove himself as a good startable safety in the league. Dawan comes in needing to fill his brother’s pro bowl sized shoes for the Jets. His whole career he’s had the stigma of being the lesser of the Landry, this is his chance to prove that stigma wrong. If there’s any motivation greater than a sibling rivalry, you let me know. Not only that, but he has Rex Ryan, the best defensive coach in football giving that defense the majority of his focus. With a very strong group of corners in Cromartie, Milliner and Wilson, the Jets safeties won’t necessarily have to deal with too much pressure protecting the backfield. The Jets do need one more and think that he’s already on the roster. If nobody among Bush, Allen, Jarrett or Fletcher can step up, there are still some viable veteran options in free agency available such as Quintin Mikell, Charles Woodson and Matt Giordano.
The tight end situation is perhaps the Jets biggest hole. I really like Pittsburgh undrafted free agent, Mike Shanahan who was the driving force behind the Pittsburgh Panther offense hybriding as a tight end and wide receiver. He had almost 1000 yards (983) as a senior and also pulled in about 6 touchdowns. That’s very comparable to top tight end prospect Zach Ertz (the 2nd tight end taken in the draft) who put up 898 and 6tds his senior year for Stanford and a whole lot more than top TE prospect, Tyler Eifert’s 685 and 4tds. We’ll wait and see how well he can transition into the NFL. Pitt has a good track record in producing players who can truly excel at the next level. They also have Jeff Cumberland returning to fill in as a great #2 or #3 tight end.
The Jets may need a solid #1 if Shanahan doesn’t pan out as a starter (although I think he has a good shot to). Dallas Clark and Kevin Boss are available and can come in and seamlessly fill this void, although Clark is on the older side and Boss dealt with injuries last season in Kansas City. When healthy, both would be great pickups for Gang Green.
If worse comes worst and we have to enter the season with a small void at TE, I still wouldn’t let that alone worry me. The tight end position has been the new hot position teams have been scrambling for, ever since Hernandez and Gronkowski broke out for the Pats. But, there have also been some winning teams who have gotten by without a strong play making tight end. Look at Seattle, Chicago, Denver, Baltimore (before Pitta), Atlanta (before Gonzales). It’s definitely better to have a solid tight end than not to have one, especially for a team looking to further develop its offense but I wouldn’t depend on the tight end position to determine a team’s success in a season.