It’s Labor Day and we are officially less than a week away from regular-season New York Jets football!
On this slight calm before the storm, our expert writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr and Michael Obermuller are back with another Heavy on Jets mailbag column. Today will focus on cut and waiver claim reactions, the state of the OT position, 2022 breakout candidates, and a preview for the Week 1 opener against the Baltimore Ravens.
Most recent mailbags:
- Week 54: Green & White reactions, Duane Brown & trading Denzel Mims.
- Week 55: Predicting the first round of cuts, preseason opener reactions.
- Week 56: Falcons joint practices, predicting the second round of cuts.
- Week 57: Preseason reactions, waiver claim candidates, final cuts.
Hot Takes From Cut Week
1. Which Jets cut upset you most?
Upset is a very interesting word. Jason Pinnock is one that I thought had a good chance to be claimed and it caught me off guard.
When I talked to people in and around the building they said he won’t start in 2022, however, he’s the guy in 2023. It was interesting how many people kept spitting that message back to me. Having said that, the Jets were apparently willing to risk it to get the biscuit by cutting him and exposing him to waivers.
I guess I’m upset about this one because the New York Giants stole him for nothing. I think he could have been traded for something, but apparently, the team didn’t feel that way or wanted to sneak him through waivers and hope no one noticed. That plan failed miserably.
Quickly, out of the other side of my mouth, I love Ashtyn Davis. I can already hear people gathering their pitchforks and torches for that comment. He is an excellent piece of athletic clay that got into football super late as a track star.
When you watch the tape you can see his “raw-ness” on tackling angles because he hasn’t played long enough. Although in spurts, you can also see the center fielder and track athlete, that can cover a lot of ground very quickly. Fans may not like to hear it, but Davis has a ton of potential and the Jets aren’t ready to give up yet.
Although my first answer is certainly Pinnock over Davis — and I do not share the same fondness as Boy Green for the latter — there were a few moves that really irked me so I’ll focus on a different one.
Cutting second-year defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall or another recent draft pick like Pinnock or LB Hamsah Nasirildeen so that DT Nathan Shepherd could make the roster was straight-up malpractice from the Jets front office. Over his entire NYJ tenure, Shepherd has not shown us fans anything that makes him deserving of this 53-man roster, and to keep him over a prospect that outplayed him all summer? This made me want to explode.
You may respond — well the Jets got Marshall and Nasirildeen back on the practice squad so it’s no big deal. As far as I’m concerned, they got lucky Pinnock was the only major casualty — although I’d take poached talents like Javelin Guidry, Del’Shawn Phillips or Trevon Wesco over Shepherd because at least they contributed on special teams. Just a really short-sighted and nonsensical move from Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh.
2. Did any of the claimed Jets prospects catch you off-guard and are you surprised that Joe Douglas did not claim anyone this year?
SNY’s Connor Hughes suggested the reason Douglas didn’t claim anyone this year is because he “knew” that the teams in front of him in the pecking order (it’s based on 2022 draft order) would claim everyone he wanted. I call B.S.
I get it, you can gather intel around the league on who wants who but trying to hide your needs at this point just seems lame. Everyone’s cards are on the table, the Jets would’ve likely claimed a defensive tackle or an offensive tackle if one was good enough out there.
So yes, I’m surprised. The No. 4 overall pick priority is a super valuable tool and while the Jets roster is a lot more talented, it isn’t enough so that you can ignore ways to improve the team.
In terms of anyone getting claimed that I didn’t see coming? Trevon Wesco is a more talented football player than Jets fans give credit for, so his popularity on the open market wasn’t that surprising. Although, it was funny to see the reaction from fans on social media.
One I’m very curious about is Del’Shawn Phillips going to the Ravens. He is a reserve linebacker and key special teamer, however, my eyebrow raised when I saw the team he was going to. Remember, last year Saleh seemed a little ticked when the Carolina Panthers scooped up QB James Morgan — wonder what he says this time.
It kind of rubbed me the wrong way that Douglas defenders were trying to flip the seven waiver claims as a good thing. ‘It’s so great that the Jets have players people actually want!’ Yeah, or it just shows that New York cut the wrong bubble candidates.
Would Shepherd have been claimed? How about Vinny Curry or Ty Johnson? The answer is almost assuredly no. So in some ways, the number of claims pissed me off because it was open season on the prospects that this organization found and developed.
Honestly, none of the claims shocked me, they’re all talented role players that could work out elsewhere. I guess the guy I thought Gang Green could sneak through was cornerback Rachad Wildgoose. He had an awesome preseason but was still more of an under-the-radar name. I really wanted to stash him on the practice squad and I was bummed that Washington poached him.
I thought Boy Green did a great job summing up the lack of waiver claims spent by the Jets. This football team has been bad the past few years and there are players that made the roster that should not have. I would have claimed a D-tackle upgrade on Shepherd, or potentially another O-tackle prospect to take a flier on — like Kellen Diesch.
3. Would you still bring in a veteran OT before Week 1 or do you trust Max Mitchell with the job? If you did sign someone, any suggestions?
I don’t trust Mitchell. I like the kid, seems like a good dude, but he is a fourth-round prospect that was supposed to need a ton of time to acclimate to the NFL game. The coaching staff says he has accelerated faster than they thought and that’s cool, but I’m not sure if that’s just coach speak or genuine.
The available offensive tackle options are dwindling but there are two names that stick out to me. One is of premium quality — Eric Fisher — a former No. 1 overall pick who actually played very well for the Indianapolis Colts coming off of an injury with the Kansas City Chiefs. He’d be an ideal fit but may prove somewhat costly with his background.
If they wanted a much cheaper alternative, perhaps a family reunion would be the way to go. Brandon Shell, a former Jets draft pick, is available after spending years with the Seattle Seahawks. He wouldn’t be a sexy option, especially with how fans remember him, but he’s a steady veteran that would make me feel a lot better about the room.
I watched Mitchell very closely throughout the preseason — he’s not even close to ready and yes, that was definitely coach speak from Saleh. The Jets need to bring in a veteran OT swing and quite frankly, I’m shocked that the usually O-line conscious Douglas has not done so.
I don’t think Fisher is realistic as a swing, he seems like he’s holding out for a starting job and I’ll throw someone like Nate Solder or Bryan Bulaga in that category too. I like the Shell suggestion more but I’ll toss two more names out there.
Daryl Williams and Mike Remmers. Williams is a versatile piece that can play guard and both tackle positions. He also started 74 games between the Panthers and Buffalo Bills, and is only 30 years old. Remmers played the swing role in KC last year and did so admirably when healthy. He’s 33 years old and has a wealth of NFL experience, including 90 career starts with four different franchises — and one in NYC with the Giants in 2019.
Looking Forward to Week 1 & Beyond
4. PFF predicted the Jets’ “breakout candidate” in 2022. Give me your number one NYJ breakout for this season.
I’m not going to get cute here, I’m going with the guy that will absolutely ascend to a near superstar level both on and off the field: wide receiver Elijah Moore.
I feel this bubbling, like in Week 1 he is going to explode and be the story of the NFL. Moore has the right personality, star power and elite abilities to let everyone in the league know exactly who he is.
The former Ole Miss product is a WR1 and the Jets haven’t had one of those in a long time.
I love the Moore pick, and that could certainly be the answer. For clarity, my pick last year was John Franklin-Myers and I’d call that a hit, being that he lead the franchise in quarterback pressures and tied for the lead in sacks. He also had the best analytical statistics against the run on the Jets’ D-line and was one of the only players consistently doing his job.
This honor usually goes to a rising star — but not necessarily a rookie — and this year I’ll answer tight end Tyler Conklin. The ex-Minnesota draft pick had a minor pop in 2021 with just under 600 receiving yards but I think he takes things to a premier level in 2022 inside a TE-friendly system.
Conklin was the best offensive player at Jets Camp this summer, hands down. It might be his first season as a Jet but I believe it’ll be the most outstanding of his NFL career. P.S. I’d like to give an honorable mention to second-year guard Alijah Vera-Tucker, although the position change could slow down his development slightly.
5. Predict Jets vs. Ravens, including the score. What is the number one key for New York if they want to win?
Easier said than done but the No. 1 key to the game is containing the elite Ravens rushing attack. The Jets were No. 32 against the run last year and the team can say — hey, that all came during a four-week stretch — but I’m just telling you what the numbers say.
The Ravens running backs are beaten up, so that should help, but the most dynamic of them all is Lamar Jackson. If you can’t contain him, you can’t stop him — that’ll be key. Specifically, the thing I’ll be watching out for is the broken plays when everything is covered, and Jackson turns his cap backward and starts playing backyard football. The Jets’ defense needs to remain disciplined and I’d put a QB spy on him the entire game. It will be worth it.
I think the Jets shock the world and win Week 1. I know what the people in Las Vegas are saying (I was just there), but give me Gang Green winning this ball game 28-20 to start off the season with an absolute bang.
We’re going to make this a weekly thing and keep track of our season record in 2022, and I’ll remain consistent with what I’ve been telling fans on social media. This is a really tough way to start 2022 and while I’m aware of the date’s NYC significance, I still have Baltimore coming out on top and the Jets starting 0-1 by a score of 34-20.
I think the Jets defense hangs around in this one, but Jackson pulls away toward the end with a late touchdown or two once Jeff Ulbrich’s unit gets gassed. Boy Green nailed the key, although I’ll direct it more at containing the dynamic quarterback than the rushing attack as a whole.
This Saleh system has not controlled rushing quarterbacks very well — Jalen Hurts and the Eagles put on a clinic during their two preseason possessions — and the Ravens are motivated and healthy after an injury-ridden campaign last year. Add in that Joe Flacco is probably starting and that Jackson is playing for his contract and this just doesn’t add up as a victory in my mind.
P.S. My secondary key will be limiting Mark Andrews. The Jets always seem to struggle with tight ends and “Man-Drews” is one of the most dominant TEs in the NFL.