That’s the pressure that comes with the bulk roster cut that’s approaching on Tuesday, August 31. General manager Joe Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh must waive 27 players (from 80 down to 53), which could end up turning into a higher number if they choose to claim guys from other teams.
It’s a harsh business, and this stage of it often becomes a numbers game. One that many promising talents lose.
We highlighted the Jets’ main bubble candidates ahead of the Eagles matchup, and these five did not do enough to separate themselves from the pack.
ALL the latest Jets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Jets newsletter here!
Honorable Mention: James Morgan
I said it weeks ago, the 2020 fourth-rounder is not making this roster, so why not bring in someone that may offer more on the practice squad? At the time, my suggestion was Josh Rosen, but he got snatched up by the Atlanta Falcons.
Morgan actually had his best game of the preseason on Friday, which ended in spectacular fashion on a Hail Mary to tight end Kenny Yeboah. It won’t matter though, because Josh Johnson outperformed him in the first half and Mike White outplayed him all summer. The Jets may even bring in an outside candidate at backup quarterback.
The failed Douglas draft pick has a chance to stick on the practice squad if he goes unclaimed, but that’s the only way he remains with this franchise.
Follow the Heavy On Jets Facebook page, where you can weigh in on all the latest NYJ-related daily content, analysis, features and more!
Depth Pieces That Couldn’t Get It Done
5. Wide Receivers D.J. Montgomery & Lawrence Cager
Cager actually had a nice touchdown catch, so you might be wondering why he’s on here. It’s because he had an up and down game and to make the 53-man roster, he needed to have a perfect one. The killer moment was the Morgan interception where Cager allowed Kevon Seymour of the Eagles to wrestle the ball from him during the tackle. This type of mistake cannot happen for a player on the bubble, but shout out to his TD-grab from Johnson.
Montgomery had the opposite type of outing, his was just bad all around with a team-worst 42.3 offensive grade from Pro Football Focus. The worst moment was when he actually prevented a teammate from attempting to catch a pass downfield. Montgomery thought the deep ball was thrown to him and he got in the way at the last second.
They both could stick on the practice squad if they go unclaimed.
4. Linebackers Camilo Eifler & Del’Shawn Phillips
I’ve been a huge team-Eifler guy all summer, and the Illinois product has shown enough to earn a practice squad spot. He’s still an undrafted prospect though and he has much to learn. In the end, the emergence of Noah Dawkins and the fact that Blake Cashman actually stayed healthy sunk Eifler. Both offer more football IQ and versatility at this point.
Eifler had his best game in Green Bay, but PFF ranked him really low against Philly, with a 37.8 run defense grade, 44.0 in coverage and 29.3 overall. Phillips has barely played this summer and I’m surprised he made it this far. He did not do enough to save his job on Friday night, however.
Top 3 Biggest Losers Versus Eagles
3. Chris Herndon or Ryan Griffin
We all know that Daniel Brown is cut, that was a foregone conclusion before his fumble on August 27. What was not a done deal was Yeboah’s chances of making the roster. 24 hours ago before game-time, I would have told you that the undrafted rookie was getting waived, figuring he would end up on the practice squad.
Now I’m not so sure. After the way Yeboah played on Friday, I could see another team snatching him up, which means Douglas may try and keep him around. That’s bad news for Griffin, who’s missed the past two weeks with a hamstring injury. Another option could be to trade Herndon (53.2 PFF grade against Eagles) and keep both Griffin and Yeboah. This will be an intriguing situation to monitor over the next couple of days.
2. Youngsters on the D-Line
After the Carl Lawson injury, Coach Saleh was practically begging one of his young guns to step up and win a role. The only problem? These players have actually regressed since Lawson went down. Bryce Huff had another rough game versus Philly, but he’ll make the team. The players that may not are edge rusher Hamilcar Rashed Jr. and DT Jonathan Marshall.
Both have shown flashes this summer, but both also look like a work in progress against the run. For the second straight week, Gang Green was steamrolled by second and third-string rushing attacks, and it shows in the PFF grades. Rashed received a 43.1 against the run, Marshall a 28.7. If that’s not enough to get waived, each was outplayed by veterans at their position like Jeremiah Valoaga, Nathan Shepherd and Tanzel Smart — who weren’t all that great either.
Rashed and Marshall probably won’t make the initial roster, but the hope is that nobody decides to claim them off waivers. If not, both have a guaranteed spot on the practice squad. P.S. Jabari Zuniga remains sidelined, creating a difficult decision on what to do with the 2020 draft pick.
1. Cornerbacks Provide Very Little Reassurance
It was a disastrous day for this inexperienced cornerback core, with Joe Flacco carving them up like it was still 2012. There were many parties at fault, including starters Bryce Hall and Bless Austin who didn’t look all that exceptional, but some of the bubble candidates were worse.
Isaiah Dunn and Elijah Campbell had a really embarrassing moment above, in which they lost track of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside for a touchdown. Dunn was beaten on the coverage and Campbell made the pathetic attempt at the tackle after the fact. If it was just one play, that wouldn’t be so bad, but the whole game wasn’t up to snuff. Dunn received a 54.7 coverage grade from PFF and a 23.1 tackle grade. Campbell’s scores were worse with a 48.2 in coverage and 45.6 in tackling.
Things had been going so well for the undrafted rookie (Dunn) to start camp, but he’s looked noticeably outmatched in the past two games and most beat reporters like Rich Cimini and Connor Hughes are now projecting him as a practice squad candidate.
There were a few other bubble candidate let-downs in the secondary on August 27. Brandin Echols was having his worst performance before a shoulder injury forced him to leave the game. His status is unclear at this point. Safety J.T. Hassell and CB Lamar Jackson also had sub-par defensive grades in their bids to make the final roster (49.3 and 53.6 respectively).