- Craig Gorbunoff
The Battle at WR: The New York Jets
The New York Jets battle for a position on the Wide Receiver depth charts has easily become one of the most interesting storylines to follow this preseason. No one on this team is making it easy on Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan as to who will stay and who will be cut, all of them are playing great football in camp and in game so far. This coming game against the Redskins should hopefully be telling as to who will separate themselves as contenders and who the pretenders are. What’s so fascinating about this Jets predicament is that a few short seasons ago, this team was desperate for any bit of talent at the position.
Looking back to the 2013 season for a moment, Rex Ryan definitely got this team to perform way above their pay grade. Starting at receiver was a Santonio Holmes long past his superstar prime, Jeremy Kerley who couldn’t seem to get on the field last season and is now a member of the Lions, and who could forget the Stephen Hill project. The point being that outside of Kerely, none of these players were able to put up decent numbers, let alone good numbers. That offseason, at the time GM John Idzik was able to convince WR Eric Decker to join the Jets squad, and was able to put up good numbers the following year… however he was the only one.
Last season speaks for itself. Brandon Marshall was acquired for a 5th round pick and had 1500 yds and 14td’s. Decker improved putting up 1027 yds and 12td’s. 6th round pick from a few years back Quincy Enunwa stepped up in a huge way to make big contributions to the offense as well as former Patriot Kenbrell Thompkins. All of a sudden the Jets went from no talent at the position to way too many, and some cuts are going to have to be made because unfortunately they just can’t keep everyone.
Of the 4 receivers listed from last year, the only one who might be on the chopping block is Kenbrell Thompkins, last season he was able to make key catches to move the chains and keep the offense going when it was struggling, I believe he makes the team. I don’t think the team can afford to carry more than 6 WR’s, which means that Jalin Marshall, Robby Anderson, Jeremy Ross, Charone Peake, Kyle Williams and Chandler Worthy are fighting for 2 slots. And let’s not forget former 2nd pick from Devin Smith who is on the PUP list for now, but will be coming back at some point. I believe Smith will be on the PUP list for quite some time, so I don’t think the team needs to worry about his spot just yet. However, there is a serious competition that can’t be ignored. To me there are really 3 players truly contended for these 2 slots, Jalin Marshall, Jeremy Ross, and Charone Peake. I personally haven’t heard reviews about a UFA like I have with Marshall. But he’s going to need to perform better as a receiver this coming game against Redskins, he can’t just be a return ace. Jeremy Ross is another great returner who performed well against Jacksonville, but doesn’t seem to have the same kind of raw athleticism that Marshall has, but I believe he’s a better route runner at this point in their progression. Looking at Peake, I see serious potential in him. His “tip-toe swag” on his back shoulder touchdown from Geno Smith was beautiful, and he has favorable size and speed.
If I had to pick today who would take those two spots, It would be Jalin Marshall and Charone Peake, but there is still plenty of preseason left, and as we see more and more games, there will be inevitable injuries and updates to shine some light on this competition. I for one am just happy at how quickly the team was able to turn around the position from 2013, and am excited to see how Gang Green can grow as an offense.