Reactions on the Jets initial 53 man roster: Defense & Special Teams

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

4PM ET Saturday marked the deadline for every NFL team to cut down their roster from 75 to 53 players. Granted, with waiver claims pending and potential free agents in the air the roster the Jets posted Saturday night might not be exactly the same as the one that lines up next weekend against the Raiders.

Here’s our reactions to the team’s newly named position groups.

Defensive Line (8)

No. Name Pos. Height Weight Age Years College
51 Enemkpali, Ikemefuna DE 6-1 272 23 R Louisiana Tech
94 Harrison, Damon DL 6-4 350 25 3 William Penn
96 Wilkerson, Muhammad DL 6-4 315 24 4 Temple
99 Barnes, T.J. DT 6-7 364 24 1 Georgia Tech
78 Douzable, Leger DT 6-4 284 28 7 Central Florida
93 Ellis, Kenrick DT 6-4 346 26 4 Hampton
91 Richardson, Sheldon DT 6-3 294 23 2 Missouri
98 Coples, Quinton LB 6-6 290 24 3 North Carolina

Grade: A+
Analysis:
Wilkerson is the anchor of the unit, Harrison is one of the most stout run-stuffers in the NFL and Sheldon Richardson is an interior playmaker on the rise.  Quinton Coples (this is his group, not the linebackers) is primed to take another big step forward, as evidenced from his play at the end of last season once he had recovered from his leg fracture.

The reason that this is the team’s strongest group is not just because of the front-line starters, but also because of the fantastic depth that this group has built in the last two years.  Douzable and Ellis are backups, but play heavy in rotation and are both positive influences against the run and pass.  Both Barnes and Enemkpali are young backups that will have the luxury of learning and playing from some of the league’s best.  Enemkpali in particular looks to be a future standout player on special teams for the Jets.

Linebackers (7)

No. Name Pos. Height Weight Age Years College
53 George, Jeremiah ILB 5-11 219 22 R Iowa State
58 Babin, Jason LB 6-3 267 34 11 Western Michigan
54 Bellore, Nick LB 6-1 250 25 4 Central Michigan
56 Davis, Demario LB 6-2 239 25 3 Arkansas State
52 Harris, David LB 6-2 250 30 8 Michigan
97 Pace, Calvin LB 6-4 265 33 12 Wake Forest
49 Reilly, Trevor OLB 6-5 225 26 R Utah

Grade: B+
Analysis:
The youth movement is fully underway in the Jets linebacking corps, led by Demario Davis.  Davis is now flanked by both Jeremiah George and Trevor Reilly (not so young as he is a 26 year old rookie) and the team must continue addressing the position in coming years as both Calvin Pace and David Harris have less football ahead of them than behind.  Harris is an excellent field commander and one of the league’s best technical interior linebackers, but is best used in run and blitzing support than in coverage.  Davis is growing into a leadership role on the defense and is the the best of the bunch at running in coverage and seems to be getting better by the year.

Don’t expect Pace to hit double digit sacks again this season with the addition of Jason Babin.  Regardless, the work that Pace does to set the edge is never the stuff of Monday backpages, but that doesn’t make it less crucial to how Ryan sets up his defense.  George will provide interior depth, something the Jets desperately lacked in 2013 and must make his mark in 2014 on special teams if he is even activated.  We fully expect Trevor Reilly to be a special teams demon and that by the end of the season he’ll have some impact plays as a situational pass-rusher.

Speaking of pass rushers, Jason Babin has fit in on the team nicely and we expect that when he’s on the field, all he’ll do is rush the passer.  Mr Wide Nine seems someone that opponents could key on because he is percieved as a uni-tasker whose unconventional alignment can expose the edge of the defense, but we trust that Rex Ryan can figure out how to plaster over that particular issue.  Nick Bellore is among the league’s best special teamers, but the Jets have been hesitant to use him in sub-package work.  Now in his RFA-walk season, will the Jets test out just how much a contributor he can be going forward?

Defensive Backs (10)

No. Name Pos. Height Weight Age Years College
31 Lankster, Ellis CB 5-9 190 28 5 West Virginia
38 Lewis, LeQuan CB 5-11 190 25 2 Arizona State
27 Milliner, Dee CB 6-0 201 22 2 Alabama
30 Walls, Darrin CB 6-0 190 26 4 Notre Dame
20 Wilson, Kyle CB 5-10 190 27 5 Boise State
25 Pryor, Calvin FS 5-11 208 22 R Louisville
39 Allen, Antonio S 6-1 210 25 3 South Carolina
32 Bush, Josh S 5-11 205 25 3 Wake Forest
37 Jarrett, Jaiquawn S 6-0 196 24 3 Temple
26 Landry, Dawan S 6-1 212 31 9 Georgia Tech

Grade: C-
Analysis: I know that many think that the grade is too soft, but let’s face it, we’ve been spoiled by stellar play at the cornerback position.  I’ll argue that by the end of the season, the front seven’s ability to pressure will make life easier on the secondary.  I’ll also argue that the current concern is more glaring because of our recent bias.  The Seahawks Legion of Boom was a major reason that Seattle hoisted the Lombardy Trophy last February, but let’s look further back.  In 2012 Baltimore had the 13th best secondary when they won, in 2011 the Giants had the 19th best.  In 2010 New Orleans the 10th best while Pittsburgh the 14th best in 2009.  My point?  While secondary play matters and might be accelerating in importance, recent history would say that Super Bowls are won with other position groups.  Those groups were not the first or even second most important groups on four of the last five Super Bowl champions.  All of those teams had efficient, or in some cases, prolific offenses.  A team like the Giants had an unmitigated wreck in their secondary, but were still able to rattle future Hall of Fame QB Tom Brady in the Super Bowl based on the strength of their defensive line, not their corner play.  Even if the Jets secondary is bad, this group won’t end the season ranked in the 20s.

It is true that the Jets secondary failures might be systemic and wholly avoidable had they brought in a high-priced veteran like Alterraun Verner or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie during free agency, but there’s no going back now.  The hurricane is upon us and when I look at this group, I would argue that the Jets have decided to steer into the storm.  It’s hard to know when Milliner will be ready to come back to the team and it’s even harder to say when he’ll be back at 100% but he’s ready to play the lead dog role as he demonstrated at the end of last season and in his short time on the field against Andrew Luck in the first preseason game.  Kyle Wilson will finger wag himself off the team next year, but for now he’ll do his normal erratic work in the slot.  Darrin Walls seems primed to be the man to step up as the second boundary corner.  Lankster can fill in on the inside or out as needed.  It’s hard to know what we can rely on from LeQuan Lewis, but I don’t expect the Jets to be throwing him up against Alshon Jeffrey or Randall Cobb any time soon.

Rex also feels confident about charting the hardest course with this group because he’s been gushing about the depth of his safeties for months.  Can he get away with playing Big Nickel extensively instead of using/exposing his third corner until Milliner returns?  We’re about to find out.

Antonio Allen is a player on the rise and Rex’s confidence to switch him to corner was eye-opening.  Allen is still recovering from his concussion, but could be ready for Week 1.  Regardless, Dawan Landry and Jaiquawn Jarrett are capable of making contributions while Allen recovers.  If the Bengals game was any indication, Calvin Pryor’s range of real estate in which he can impact a play will be a building block for the rest of the unit.  Many have scratched their heads at the inclusion of Josh Bush over Rontez Miles, but Bush might not be long for the roster anyway should the team find a veteran or waived defensive back they prefer.  For now, it is wholly the team’s decision to bring as much coverage skill as they can into group.  While Miles is a great story and might make the active roster at some point this fall, the Jets are in crisis mode until Milliner is healthy.

The Jets cornerback situation isn’t great, but it could be worse.  Once Milliner and Pryor are on the field together, the rest of the pieces will fall into place … and as recent history indicates they won’t even need to be the league’s best to win the Lombardi Trophy.

Specialists (3)

No. Name Pos. Height Weight Age Years College
2 Folk, Nick K 6-1 222 29 8 Arizona
46 Purdum, Tanner LS 6-3 270 28 5 Baker
4 Quigley, Ryan P 6-3 188 24 2 Boston College

Grade: B
Analysis: It is important to have a quality kicker on the roster with a young quarterback who might have drives stall short of the red zone.  Folk had a career season in 2013 and seems to be on track for another good year in 2014.   Purdum has been one of the league’s steadiest long-snappers and looks to continue his solid work this season with the Jets.  Ryan Quigley has had some poor punts in the preseason.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets make a switch if they find a better player comes available.




217 comments
Geoff Dean
Geoff Dean

man, id like to see allen and pryor as our safeties. bring in bailey and dress another warm body as the other corner. should get us by oakland. baby steps!

lamjones
lamjones

I agree that Quigley and even Josh Bush should not be buying green bananas...

Eva Nieto- Loiacono
Eva Nieto- Loiacono

guys do me a favor...remind me of whom was the initial fan that started the jets chant in shea stadium...it wasn't fireman ed...but what was his name

marshrandy
marshrandy

The best defense against the offenses we play early will be a strong run game. Control the clock, keep those QBs off the field, and use exotic defensive looks when we have to 

levi
levi

 Kinda surprised they kept Josh Bush.


Quigley either needs to suddenly become good or be replaced.


 Why cant Snacks just be the long snapper and open up a roster spot?


Mark Phelan
Mark Phelan

Let's remember just how bad our pass defense was last year.

We start 2014 certainly no worse - even with Miliner out.  Remember how bad he was early last year?


The key to the early going will be Geno's play - keeping the offense on the field, scoring points, and keeping opponents on the pine.

WW85
WW85

Both Giants & Pats signed multiple free agent CBs  so it's logical to think they will cut CBs who'd normally make the squad.

WW85
WW85

Giants release 6th rounder CB Bennett Jackson  -2.4 PFF. Also Chandler Fenner +2.8PFF.  It looks like NYG want Jackson on the PS. Both guys are  good size 6ft. Jackson holds several Nottre Dame kick return records.

WW85
WW85

Pats released DB Dax Swanson. I know nothing about him but he grades well  on PFF +2.3 in 3 games

metsdrunk
metsdrunk

The season will not ride on cb but how much of a step forward Geno takes. If he can go from one of the worst qbs in the league to even average, this is a playoff team.

Jeff E. Guy
Jeff E. Guy

Idjit saved $300,000.00 by signing the always hurt and mostly unreliable Patterson over Cromartie, then he wasted one million by cutting him. Heckuva job, Idzie. 

Bigfoo7
Bigfoo7

I like how this D is set up. Much better than last year even at corner and we have added some youthful depth.

I don't know what it is about Reilly but I am glad they found a spot for him. I enjoyed watching him play in the preseason.

WW85
WW85

Anybody else question keeping Enunwa?  I mean is some other team really going to pick him up? I was in favor of dumping Hill, but to keep Enunwa over Hill is just stupid. Even Enunwa over Gates is dumb. I guess Idzik just loves his draft picks that much

BDarc23
BDarc23

@lamjones

I have a feeling the cb situation led the Jets to keep Bush. I think he can probably line up in 3 safety sets.

Pete 57
Pete 57

Don't know his name. But there was actually 2 guys. Back in Shea, on opposite sides of the stadium there were two big guys with beards that led the chant. And the best part was the chants went back and forth, each side trying to outdo the other. That was awesome.

jsadolph
jsadolph

@levi

I have no idea how Quigley is still on the team.  They should have dumped him in the offseason and brought in all new fresh blood.  Just giving him the opportunity to compete for the job was to much.

Tanner Pardum's LS duties are needed.  After watching some of the college games yesterday, I am glad we got Tanner.  W/O a quality LS, it is just a turnover waiting to happen everytime you punt or kick.

jsadolph
jsadolph

@Mark Phelan

Yeah, the raiders will be a good warm up game.  They have an O-Line in shambles and not sure who to start at QB.  Then we can get Dee back and take on the murders row that waits for us the next 5 weeks.

I have a feeling that we can go 3-3 in the first 6 weeks and make a run when the schedule lightens up after that.

Bigfoo7
Bigfoo7

Everything someone responds to joey Cimini's gets a dollar.

I want my dollar back.

bonozoffa
bonozoffa

I'm already ignoring the hack beat writers who publish news masked as op eds. There are so many other sources to go to get Jets beat news other than ESPN and the Daily News.

Pete 57
Pete 57

Yeah, Idzik is the only GM that signed a Low level FA that didn't work out. How are Decker, Johnson, And Vick working out?

jetsjerk
jetsjerk

@WW85 I'm looking into this QUINCY ENUNWA as well.  Does anyone know which preseason game(s) he shined in so I can go back and review it (them)?

a57se
a57se

@BDarc23

How many snaps has bush gotten in his career with the Jets???

gjet93
gjet93

@Pete 57 Back at Shea it was a fireman named Omar. He was not nearly as big as Fireman Ed.  Eddie knew Omar from Shea.

r_in_ct
r_in_ct

@jsadolph @levi People think I'm joking in my constant praise for Purdum, but his consistency is amazing and he's the most underrated player on the team. The only time he'd get noticed would be if he botched a snap in a critical spot, which is too bad—he's been nothing but excellent from day 1.

levi
levi

@jsadolph  Im sure a lot of punters will be getting their chance to unseat Quigley these next few weeks.

hitchhiker
hitchhiker

@bonozoffa Don't worry, Joey will make sure you are caught up with the latest trolling from ESPN, if you read TJB.

BDarc23
BDarc23

@Pete57

It's still a bad job. I don't see how anyone would think Idzik should get a free pass on the CBs. It was a huge weakness last year and the FA market was filled with CBs this year when the Jets had ( and still have) massive cap space.

WW85
WW85

@jetsjerk He barely played--he'd been injured & did almost nada. Hill & Gates both contributed more. Hill had a good camp. This is all because Idzik wanted to keep his pick even though it's a dumb football move.  It's actually dumb on any level to keep 7 WRs, especially for the NYJ where Amaro & CJ will play some receiver.

BDarc23
BDarc23

@a57se

312.... I have no idea. I just know he played cb in college so i am making the leap that he has good coverage skills for safety.

MikeFrancesser
MikeFrancesser

Exactly. The fact that most jets fans have no idea who he is tells you all you need to know.

levi
levi

@r_in_ct  Haha I thought that might get your attention. And I was joking.

Pete 57
Pete 57

Yes, it would seem that there were better options out there. My question is why he didn't sign DRC, or Verner, etc. many people think he's "cheap". That's ridiculous. It's not his money. Not sure we will ever know the details for each of those players. Also have to believe if a Rex really wanted someone badly they would've got them. Don't think Revis wanted to come back.

WW85
WW85

I thought almost every long snapper in the NFL is close to 100%?

BDarc23
BDarc23

This might be a dumb question but why can't Mangold be the long snapper?

BDarc23
BDarc23

@Brendan

Is there a backup that could come in and start if there is an injury? The depth does seem weak but I don't think it's a main concern.

MikeFrancesser
MikeFrancesser

Because joey will never stop thinking the line is a problem. It's in his blood.

BDarc23
BDarc23

@Pete 57

There were so many guys that would seem to be a huge improvement. You mentioned DRC and Verner but the blog also had some pushing for Grimes, Shields, Davis, Tarrell Brown... Even Talib and Walter Thurmond would have been good. Too late now of course but if the CBs get exposed again Idzik should be criticized. If the young guys step up then he knew what he was doing all along and as fans we are lucky to have him.

WW85
WW85

@jetsjerk Yes he played in every game. PFF grades him -1.1 overall

gjet93
gjet93

@BDarc23 He hates it and he wanted no part of it since he was a rookie.

Brendan
Brendan

@BDarc23 I mean, Ijalana had a good preseason, I haven't gone through every player cut, but none of the guys I saw clearly outplayed him in preseason. 

jetsjerk
jetsjerk

@WW85 @jetsjerk I really didn't see any standout play.  I'll have to rewatch them today and look HARD!

levi
levi

@jetsjerk  There were a few guys on here that were really high on Enunwa and said he would get plucked from our practice squad if we tried to stash him there. Apparently he would have been drafted higher if not for an injury.

WW85
WW85

@levi He didn't earn the spot. The whole competition thing only applies if Idzik's guy wins the battle it seems. Hill & Gates both beat out Enunwa for a 7th spot

levi
levi

@WW85  From what Ive read he did really well in practice. (I know its just practice) I think they know what they have in Gates and Hill by now and were ready to move on apparently.

jsadolph
jsadolph

@levi @WW85

Yeah.  And Idzik seams to let the rookies get a year of experience before he dumps them.  But if you don't show anything after a year you will be cut.

That formula seemed to work for Seattle, they were patient with their young players and it has paid off.

WW85
WW85

@jsadolph There are many ways to look at it. 7 WRs is over the top in my book. Losing Enunwa to keep a better player is hardly a big loss.


levi
levi

@WW85  Dont worry its the Jets we can put 2 or 3 of them on IR in the next couple of weeks. They seem to get injured a lot for us.