Rex Ryan claimed in 2011 that had the Bolts hired him in 2007 instead of our dearly departed Norval, he would have coached the Chargers to Super Bowls wins. He has gotten the Jets close to that lofty goal twice, never quite cashing in the rings he promised to the Jets faithful. The last 3 seasons have been pretty bad for Ryan and the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets. For being right across a river from one of the great media centers in the world, they sure have a lot of guys on their team that we have not heard of.
UBIC – Offense
Jeremy Kerley, WR (#11) The Jets have some real issues with their offense. It should not be a surprise to many Bolts fans that the Jets are 25th in the NFL in scoring offense four games into the season. In an effort to improve what was a dismal offense last year, the Jets signed high priced free agent Eric Decker to try and help Geno Smith. Decker is certainly not unknown to Charger fans, as he was a Bronco before he was a Jet. He has also been reasonably productive for the Jets, when his hamstring has cooperated.
Which brings us to Kerley. The TCU alum has been a Jet since they selected him in the 5th round of the 2011 draft. At 5’9" and 188 pounds, he has the perfect slot receiver body type. So far this this season, he has also been the most dependable receiver the Jets have, catching 16 of the 19 passes thrown his way; that 84% catch rate leads the team. The 19 targets are second on the team, right behind Decker’s 24.
Kerley averages only 9 yards per catch, with his longest reception being 19 yards. He has scored one TD in 2014. While he be similar to the Bolts’ own Eddie Royal, his game seems to be a lot more limited. The Jets want him to provide Smith an alternative to the constantly double covered Decker. While Kerley is not a threat to blow the top off of a secondary, he is a threat to get the 6-12 yards a team needs sometimes to keep a drive going. This is the type of player that demands a defense have a dedicated slot corner. Look for Smith to send 4-6 balls his way on Sunday and for Kerley to catch most (if not all of them).
Jace Amaro, TE (#88) I saw a lot of this young man last year while he was playing at Texas Tech. The 6’5" 260 pound Amaro was another attempt by the Jets to upgrade the weapons that Geno Smith has at his disposal. Amaro is a rookie, selected 49th overall (the 3rd TE taken) in the most recent draft. He is not known for his blocking, but is the perfect "joker" or "move TE" that teams running the West Coast/Spread hybrid offense crave in today’s NFL. Think of him as a Ladarius Green type of player, blessed with speed, height, and route running ability beyond that of most tight ends. He has caught 11 passes so far in 2014, but his role seems to be increasing as the season progresses.
UBIC - Defense
Antonio Allen, CB (#39) If there is anything besides the QB play that is giving Rex Ryan heartburn this season, it would have to be his pass defense and specifically, his secondary. And with the secondary, it is not the case that it is the worst in the league. It is just that when a team’s run defense is ranked 1st in the league and the pass defense is ranked 11th, that part of playing defensive football just LOOKS worse than the other part. Also, limitations in the CB position have forced the Jets to play a lot of 2 deep safety type of defense, which Ryan would prefer to not do (sort of like most us prefer to not get a root canal without anesthetic).
Allen, along with the other starting CB (Darrin Wells) are limited by their athleticism and speed. They have done well in run support and are decent tacklers (Allen has 20 solo tackles, which leads the team), but do not cover that well. Allen is the better cover corner on the roster, leading the Jets with 5 passes defended. Now in his 3rd year, the 2012 7th round draft pick from USC (the one in South Carolina, not Los Angeles) has grown into the job, starting 9 games last year and all four games this year.
Coach Ryan and the Jets have to be figuring that Allen will see plenty of work on Sunday, given the match ups involved. A big part of that is the Chargers inability to do that thing, you know, when the QB hands the ball to another guy behind the line of scrimmage and that guy carries the ball and starts to… Oh Yeah! RUN – yep, that is what the Bolts can’t do right now… RUN. So, PR will pass and probably pass a lot early in the game. The Jets have to be hoping that their maligned secondary can slow down the Chargers enough for the Jets to have a shot at winning on Sunday.
Demario Davis, ROLB (#56) While the Jets may not be entirely happy with the corner selected in the 7th round of the 2012 draft, they seem to be really happy with the OTHER 7th round pick they got that year, discovering gold at Arkansas State. The 6’2", 235 linebacker firmly established himself as a starter last year and leads his team in total tackles (19 solo, 13 assisted) and sacks (2.5) this season. The Jets officially list him as the "Will" (weak side) LB and use him on the side of the field where a TE will not be around to chip him. That way, he can use his speed to disrupt runs and attack QB’s on pass plays. In what is one the best (if not the best) all-around front 7’s in the NFL, Davis has turned into a key contributor. Both Dunlap and Fluker will both have their chances with him and the winner of those match-ups will contribute greatly to the outcome of the game.