Impact players: Youth movement

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

Over the next few days, we’re going to take a look at some key Jets players this season centered around a themes.  First up, we’ll look at five veterans who will need to have an important impact for this Jets team to fly high in 2014.

Antonio Allen (S) — Everyone will be looking at all the plays that rookie Calvin Pryor makes from the other safety spot, but the ceiling of this secondary might be determined by how much more comfortable Antonio Allen can get in coverage this season.  Ryan loves flexible safeties and Allen is solid in run support and is improving against the pass.  Allen will likely be deployed around the line, but we saw that he can hang with tight ends in coverage if he has some back-end help.  As the Jets look to take on a more Legion of Boom feel, Allen’s athleticism and college role as a hybrid linebacker/safety could help him become play the Kam Chancellor type role for this team.

coplesQuinton Coples (DE/OLB) — Eyes are now  turning to Quinton Coples, for right or wrong.  Jets great Joe Klecko might not have been the first or last to make comments questioning Coples, but we have to wonder if many will be eating their words come December.  It has been two years so far and he hasn’t seen the type of dominance that his linemates Mo Wilkerson or Sheldon Richardson saw within their first two years, but there’s been some mitigating circumstances.  After posting the highest sack total on the team in 2012 Coples suffered a broken ankle in training camp in 2013 and it significantly slowed his second season production.  Also, much was made of Coples “move” to linebacker, but we all know that in Rex’s scheme that’s a formality.  No one need worry about QC in man coverage with Julian Edelman from the slot. Coples rushed back to the team as soon as he could and had a slow start in his production but came on strong at the end, posting 3.5 of his 4.5 sacks in the last five games.  This season Coples has slimmed down and been training with some excellent players at his position.

Dee Milliner (CB) — If much of the offense’s questions revolve around Geno Smith, the same might be true for Milliner and this defense.  Can Milliner play the “shutdown” role at corner that Rex has always had with the Jets since joining the group in 2009?  Milliner follows in the shadow of Cromartie and Revis, no small feat.  While a lot will be required of Milliner, the utter dominance of the front seven will surely help.  While the Jets linebackers were the best part of the front seven early in Rex’s tenure, the overhaul on the D-line will allow Milliner to cover for less time thanks to the Sons of Anarchy pressuring the quarterback.

Geno SmithGeno Smith (QB ) – Though the rest of the world snickers at most mentions of the Jets, it’s hard not to consider Bill Polian’s words from yesterday’s NFL Insiders broadcast on ESPN.  Whether national analysts can see it or not, this team is significantly more talented than it has been in the last three years.  There were a number of good players already on this team before John Idzik acquired it; the team just needed to cut through the restrictive contracts and rebuild the depth and complementary pieces.  Even so, it all seems to hinge on what results the Jets can get from the quarterback spot.  Mike Vick is ready to take the reins should the need arise, but Vick’s play is not what it was at earlier points in his career and so Geno Smith is where the team is placing their hope.  This might be an ‘inflexion point’ year for Smith; we saw some improvement at the end of last season, but if the needle doesn’t continue to rise for him this year the Jets might return to the drawing board at the QB position next offseason.  Smith has tools: an accurate deep pass, good legs to scramble, velocity and touch.  But for Smith it will come down to moving the chains and turnovers.  With the increased talent, keeping the offense moving shouldn’t be as overwhelming a task as it was in 2013, but Geno has to cut down the turnovers to keep the Jets defense out of insurmountable situations.

Brian Winters (G) – Right now the Jets are logjammed at from the fifth to eighth(ish) spots on the offensive line.  The starting center and tackle positions are assured, but the guard spots along with their backups are up for grabs.  The Jets have drafted and acquired a number of pieces on the line that they will want to settle on as mid-term backups and potential future starters.  Last year Brian Winters struggled much of the season once he took over for Vlad Ducasse, but did show a spark at the end of the season.  Can he build on his rookie season and instill the coaching staff with enough the confidence in his play to allow the team to pluck another young backup into a starting role as well?




21 comments
MoSacks MoSnacks
MoSacks MoSnacks

My predictions (all barring injury)...


Antonio Allen: Plays well but splits significant time with Landry. Shows he's a better than adequate safety.


Coples: Breakout monster year. 10+ sacks.


Milliner: Struggles again early in the season, but picks it up about 4 games in and flashes between brilliant and adequate. Most consistent in last third of the season.


Geno: Performs adequately with the help of his new weapons. Flashes more competency consistently than last year and shows more development from year 1 to 2 than Sanchez did. TD:Int ratio of 1.5:1.


Winters: Struggles yet again and ends up benched for Aboushi/Dozier. Ends up being platooned much like Jason Smith was.

Paul Samuels
Paul Samuels

If all of these players develop at the right pace, the Jets have a nice core that will stick around for years to come. 

williamg1
williamg1

Its important for Coples to go 100% balls-to-the-wall, even if its with a broken ankle. You really only need one leg to rush the passer effectively. 

marc55
marc55

I cannot recall a Jets team with this much potential depth and upside. Obviously, most of them may flop, but the "asset" diversification is a welcomed change from the Tannenbaum era.

levi
levi

I think just because Idzik came from Seattle people make to many comparisons with the Jets and Seahawks. Their D is/ was much better than the Jets. Jets are not even close to the legion of boom.

Bent
Bent moderator

Will be interesting to look back on this in 3-4 years and see if these five are our nucleus or if most of them are gone.

harvlis
harvlis

Coples has the luxury of playing with one of the most talented, motivated and deep defensive lines in the league.  Barring injury, I see Coples having a break-out season.  He was putting it together, at the end of last season.  I cannot wait to see him throwing big tackles to the ground, on his way to crushing some QB.  Stay healthy, big guy.

Mark Phelan
Mark Phelan

The OL is my concern, especially since or TE roster holds little blocking help.


I read Winters was bad to begin and this hurt the play of his OL neighbors.  Just what was he bad at in the beginning?  Did he actually improve in those areas? 

Zartan
Zartan

How is it that Pryor looks bigger than the LBs. McDougal as well.

williamg1
williamg1

@marc55 Lol @ asset diversification. About sums it up perfectly. 

buckets
buckets

That's fine, but Legion of Boom is pretty much the stupidest nick name in sports. So, at least we have that over them.

Bent
Bent moderator

@levi I actually think they're more closely related that most people think.  Seattle runs a 4-3 under which is basically close to a core concept of the Rex hybrid.


The major difference is that our strength is in the front line and theirs is in the back end (and the reason they're ahead of us is because their defensive line is not as good as ours but still very good whereas our secondary is way behind theirs right now).

Marty Luc
Marty Luc

@Bent i was just thinking the same thing! so much of what the jets hope to accomplish this year, hinges on the growth of the drafts from the past 3 years. 


"veterans" like hill, coples, davis, allen, millner, richardson, winters & smith are all being counted on to take that next step. 


while rookies, pryor, amaro, mcdougle, saunders,dozier, evans etc will be counted on to contribute in some capacity right away. 


imo, how those players develop will determine how successful the jets are this season. 


Bent
Bent moderator

@Mark Phelan Here's the BGA: http://thejetsblog.com/bga/bga-the-strife-of-brian/


To be honest, he really didn't show much sign of improvement until right at the end of the year, then he finally started to flash some positive plays but was still inconsistent until the last couple of games where he finally seemed to put it all together (and needed less help to do so).

harold
harold

@Mark Phelan

To be honest he was bad at everything.  However, if I had to pick one it would be balance.  He was often off balance and out of position which led to him spending an insane amout of time on the ground.  He actually improved his technique some and was able to stay on his feet, more consistently.  Now if he can become capable at the other areas needed to be a quallity offenseive lineman (strength, hand placement, play recognition) we may have something.

Zartan
Zartan

You have that backwards.

harvlis
harvlis

With the addition of Pryor and McDougle, two thumpers, it might not be long before we have the type of dominant defense that can lead us to the SB. Plus,we have Rex. Can't wait for them to show us what the future will look like.

levi
levi

@Bent  I agree with that. I was more talking about the secondary not being close to Seattles.


I wonder if the CB's struggle this year if Rex will play more zone or have a safety over the top more often than normal. He seemed to Leave Cro out there by himself for a lot of last season even though he kept getting burnt. I think it was Brian Billick that jokingly said Rex doesnt even have cover two in his play book. 

levi
levi

@Bent  You dont sound to confident about him improving.

Bent
Bent moderator

@levi @Bent I would expect him to improve but it's not guaranteed by any stretch.  I'm not that worried about the guard positions though because the OL wasn't too bad with constantly terrible play from the left guard position.  Shouldn't be too hard to upgrade from that, even if Winters himself doesn't prove to be the guy to step up.


There WAS improvement at the end of the year and, believe me, I was looking for it all year and there were no signs until very late.  Still, it finally did come, so hopefully he can build on that.


Remember, Slauson went from barely playing at all to competent starter more or less overnight.  So did Howard.  Either of them would probably have been just as bad as Winters last year, if not worse, had they started 12 games the previous year.