BGA: The Expendables Update #3
Bent , TheJetsBlog.com
Every year, teams have to let some players go. Even though the Jets brought back Sione Po’uha, Bryan Thomas and Nick Folk, they chose not to bring everyone back. During preseason, I kept track of the progress on the guys who left so we could at least start to form some views on whether letting any of these guys loose was a mistake or a smart move. Now we’re into the regular season, let’s see how those guys are getting on.
This is the third update of the year and also acts as a primer in case you want to check on the progress of some of these guys yourselves with the Jets not playing today. If you missed the first two updates, go here and here.
After the jump, all of the details from the season so far for each of the ex-Jets contributing elsewhere.
In no particular order…
Jim Leonhard – Safety, Broncos
Leonhard has now settled into his role as the third safety, averaging over 20 snaps per game over the last five. He had his second interception of the year last week – both against the Chargers – and has only given up four catches for 31 yards, while playing in the box about one-third of the time. As a mark of his consistency, his coverage grade from PFF is 11th in the league among safeties, despite the fact he’s played less than 25% of the snaps. Although Leonhard took his time to get back up to full speed, with all the defensive breakdowns in recent games and the other safety with experience in this system (Eric Smith) having not played much, I wonder how much the Jets regret not bringing him back. Reminder: He can catch a punt too.
Robert Turner, Center, St. Louis
Turner continues to prove he deserves to be an NFL starter having begun the season starting at left guard and then moving to center when Scott Wells was hurt. According to PFF, he has the 2nd best pass blocking grade for centers, having given up just one hit and two pressures. By way of comparison, Nick Mangold has surrendered two sacks, two hits and four pressures. The Rams as a team have been one of the worst pass protecting teams, though, so that might mean that Turner has been responsible for some of that and it also might mean that there were situations where he was beaten, but someone else had already been beaten for a pressure or sack. Turner also has a positive run blocking grade, but ranks 13th overall entering this weekend.
Wayne Hunter, Offensive Tackle, St. Louis
Hunter has only played five snaps since Week 6 due to a back injury. Prior to that he had been doing an extremely solid job and looked like a totally different player as he filled in for a series of games starting at left tackle. The Jets were lucky to be able to offload him, but not for the reasons we all thought. Had he started the year and then gone down injured, that could have messed up the Jets’ chemistry and it would have taken even longer for the line to gel.
Brian Schottenheimer, Offensive Co-ordinator, St. Louis
Schottenheimer’s team turned some heads with their tie against the 49ers, a game in which they gained an impressive 458 yards against a top defense. However, they fell back to earth against the Jets last week. The Rams depend heavily on Danny Amendola and whenever he’s been injured, the Rams have lacked a viable Plan B. Their offense is still in the bottom 10 in most categories, but it remains ahead of the Jets’ offense in many of them.
Matt Mulligan, Tight End, St. Louis
Mulligan continues to rank in the top ten among tight ends for blocking on PFF, although he hasn’t caught a pass (or even been targeted) since Week 8. His six catches, 59 yards and one touchdown on the season do represent career highs though. The biggest factor in his play this year is that he has limited the big mistakes with just one drop, one penalty and one sack surrendered.
Braylon Edwards, Wide Receiver, Seattle
Edwards had been dealing with a knee issue, but returned to the lineup to play 23 snaps – most of them in garbage time – against the Jets. However, the only impact he made was to get flagged for an illegal motion penalty. He has just eight catches on the year and only 23 since leaving the Jets after the 2010 season. However, he’s off the injury list now, so he will have a chance to make an impact over the last few weeks of the season and earn a shot somewhere next year.
Marquice Cole, DB, New England
Cole was inactive against the Jets after having suffered a recent hamstring injury. However, he played 63 snaps against the Bills in Week 10 and 19 snaps in the blowout last week against the Colts. He did give up two catches for 21 yards in the Colts game, but recorded three tackles – his first of the season. In the Bills game, he gave up just one catch for 12 yards on four targets. His primary role continues to be on special teams, but he isn’t a major contributor for New England, especially now they’ve bolstered their secondary by signing Aqib Talib.
Ropati Pitoitua, DE, Kansas City
Pitoitua is continuing to get plenty of opportunities with the struggling Chiefs. He’s started five of the last six games, although he has played less than 50% of the snaps in all but one of them. He’s graded out well against the run over the last couple of games, registering six tackles and three stops, but has only pressured the quarterback once since he had two sacks in his breakout game in week four.
Terrance Ganaway, RB, St. Louis
The Rams continue to stash Ganaway on their active roster, but he isn’t getting a chance to play. He’s been active just three times and other than five garbage time snaps in London against the Patriots last month, hasn’t seen any action on offense.
Jamaal Westerman, DE, Arizona
Westerman was waived this week, having seen just two snaps of action and played five games as a special teamer, registering one tackle.
Plaxico Burress, WR, Pittsburgh
Burress was picked up by the injury-ravaged Steelers this week. We will watch with interest whether he has anything left.
Jonathan Grimes, RB, Houston Texans
The Jets dumped Grimes for veteran Kahlil Bell two weeks ago. Since his return to the Texans, Grimes has been active twice, but only played on special teams.
Unless I’m missing someone obvious, I think that’s it. Guys like Donald Strickland and Brodney Pool are still free agents. We’ll be back with a final update at the end of the season.