I’ve already written about my dislike of the “tanking” tactic adopted by the Jets for this season, now I find myself compelled to write about them again, as an unfortunate training accident just threw the team even deeper into the bog of eternal stench.
In a squad lacking star qualities on the offensive side of the ball Quincy Enunwa stood out as a potential ray of light against the darkness. In 2016 the 3rd year receiver racked up 857yrds and 4tds whilst stepping into the shoes vacated by Eric Deckers season-ending injuries. As the grand Tank-a-thon commenced in earnest this off-season and the year was all but written off, Enunwa looked destined to lead the WR-Corps on the long road ahead. Well Jets fans, consider that light extinguished and the road a little longer as the injury bug has struck and 6-9months on Injured Reserve with a neck problem is all that awaits Enunwa now. Suddenly the ’08 Lions now have really rival for the record of a winless-season as the team’s best chance of offensive success in a passing league begins his recuperation leaving little in terms of proven talent behind him.
No one is saying he would have been a legitimate no.1 receiver but he was certainly the best of a bad bunch which is now, instead, led by Robby Anderson (587yrds in 2016) who has plenty of pace but lacks a physical presence. The O-line will need to keep McCown upright for extended periods if Andersons speed is to become a factor and routes allowed to develop. He’ll also need to make a marked improvement in his own game as his 2 tds last season were outweighed by 4 drops which doesn’t bode well for a field-stretching player.
This years 3rd round pick ArDarius Stewart suddenly becomes very important as the likelihood is he’ll be required to start immediately. His college output (1500+ yrds and 13 tds) over the last two years is impressive but the step-up could be a tricky one with defences not concerned with a genuine No.1 on the field. Behind Stewart, last years 7thround pick Charone Peake seems likely to get work both wide and in the slot, training camp talk has been positive but the reality for now remains that he has less than 200 total yards to his name in the league. To recap, the team’s top 3 receivers have a total of less than 800 receiving yards between them at this level and just 3 touchdowns. I’ll stir the pot just a little more and consider Marquees Wilson (signed from the bears this offseason), as the 4th WR. Here is a player with as many injury-designations due to a broken foot as he has scores over the first 3 years of his career (3). Hardly seems likely to pose a serious threat on a week-by-week basis.
Matt Forte and Bilall Powell still rank as the best weapons the Jets possess as both can power the ball home with their brutal running plays, but opposing defences are going to respect that fact and stack the box, challenging these afore-mentioned unproven receivers to make plays. Austin Steferian-Jenkins has been mentioned as preparing for a breakout year from Tight End, and he certainly possesses the physical attributes required to do so, but let’s not forget that he starts the season with a 2-week suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. Even if he is poised to make the jump to legitimate NFL player, his history says he may not be mature enough to handle the role of on-field star.
The Jets needed their players to step-up this season, stay fit, play hard and prove the doubters wrong. They needed to give the fans something to cling to, something to cheer, a distraction from the pain that is likely to come. Now look back at what I’ve written and find the positives that those fans have to look forward to…it won’t take you long. Enunwa being placed on I.R may be the final nail in the coffin for the New York Junk in 2017. Congratulations Mike McCaagnan your grand plan to pick 1st overall next year just become more likely to succeed, not through your clever planning mind, just through one players plain bad luck. Go Jets.