Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comOver the next few days, we’re going to take a look at some key Jets players this season centered around a themes. Next up, we’ll look at some of the more reliable players on the team, whom the Jets will be relying upon for consistent and steady production once again…
Nick Bellore (LB) — Bellore was used almost exclusively as a special teamer in 2013, ranking 15th overall (tied) according to Pro Football Focus, and while we expect him to still have a pivotal role as one of the leader’s on special teams, don’t be surprised if the Jets feel more confident in using Bellore on defense, thanks to the Jets bringing in a number of rookies who will help to fill out what was a depleted special teams unit in 2013.
Leger Douzable (DL) – Of all the players on the Jets defensive line, Douz gets some of the least publicity, but as the 2013 season wore on, Douzable saw more reps on a game-by-game basis. While the Jets might not have been sure what they had in Douzable, what we’re sure they saw was that the line’s overall play didn’t drop off significantly with him in on the field in sub-package work. Douzable was successful against the run and the pass and we expect more of the same from him in an expanded role to give the starters a rest more often.
David Harris (ILB) — Rex Ryan praised Harris to the skies this week by questioning why a player like he would be left out of the NFL’s Top 100 players. Lists are always bad, but Harris is just another poster child of why the NFL must recover the ranking from the hands of the players. The voting system is drastically flawed (ably demonstrated by Bill Barnwell last year) and this year’s group is no less problematic. Stats producers and recency bias runs rampant and so it’s not as shocking to me that Harris was left out, but while Harris is a crucial element to the Jets defense, his pay hasn’t matched his ProFootballFocus grading for a long time. Harris is often one of the league’s best inside players against the run, but the biggest problem with Harris has always been his ability to play well in pass coverage. With a group of linemen ahead of him that will have another year in Rex’s system under their belt, expect good things from Harris in what might be his last year with the team.
Nick Mangold (OC) — D’Brickashaw Ferguson might garner more attention for good or ill, but it is Mangold who has held the interior of this line together and done so at a very high level dating back to his early days as a Jet. Mangold’s and Brick’s grades suffered last year with a rookie quarterback and problematic play at left guard all season. Even so, Mangold’s no less dominant than he has been and if the guard play can take a turn for the better in 2014, expect a return to top rankings for Mangold.
David Nelson (WR) — Nelson came to the team late in 2013, but ended up as a helpful target for Geno Smith with 36 catches (20 for first downs) and 2TDs. Nelson’s large catch radius and work as a possession receiver worked well with the rookie quarterback and the two developed a rapport quickly thanks to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg’s scheme. Nelson might lose some targets over the course of the season with more receivers on the roster and the possibility that the team will run more two TE sets, but expect him to still be a helpful third down and red zone target for the Jets offense.