Jets Called Upon to Ride Veteran Newcomer Until the ‘Wheels Blow Off’

Robert Saleh

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh during 2023 training camp.

Our Heavy on Jets mailbag is back for another week as we prep for the 2023 regular season opener against the division rival Buffalo Bills.

As always, our writers Paul ‘Boy Green’ Esden Jr. and Michael Obermuller will be fielding the top questions around Gang Green nation. The September 5 edition will touch on the Week 1 running back plan, Connor McGovern’s unexpected comments, last week’s cuts, the initial 2023 practice squad and of course, predictions for Jets-Bills on Monday night.

First, a look back at our most recent weekly articles:

Week 1 Rumblings in Jets Land Feature Dalvin Cook & Connor McGovern

1. Dalvin Cook and Breece Hall will both play in the Week 1 opener. How much do you expect each to be used, and what role will Michael Carter and/or Israel Abanikanda play?

Boy Green:

I expect Cook to get the bulk of the load, somewhere in the 50 percent range. By all accounts, it sounds like Hall is ready to go so I’ll slice about 25 percent of the rock for him in some special packages and don’t rule out some decoy stuff to keep the Bills on their toes.

The rest of the pie will be split up with the available running backs, and that is the correct plan.

If I’m the Jets, I’m going to ride the Cook train until the freaking wheels blow off. That’s why you paid the man in the first place, to use and abuse him baby. It’s only a one-year deal and there’s no guarantee he’ll be back in 2024.


I think Carter gets more work in Week 1 than any other outing this season — barring injury to Hall or Cook. I’ll put “MC” at 35 percent this week, with 40% going to Cook.

Paul’s right, using Cook now makes sense, but keep in mind that he has not played in a real practice or game with pads on all summer. His only work has been during Week 1 team prep, basically, and there’s no telling if he’s ready for anything more than 40 percent of snaps.

I’ll agree with my partner on Hall — 25 percent feels right as they ease the rising star back in with caution. I expect Abanikanda to be inactive Week 1 as he’s still working his way back from a thigh contusion.

2. Jets center Connor McGovern alluded to “bad apples” on previous NYJ teams that he was a part of. If you had to guess, who might he have been talking about?


Maybe Jamal Adams, although they only spent a handful of months together in 2020.

He is really talking about Elijah Moore. McGovern called him out without doing it by name. What a brutal slap in the face for a talented prospect that blew it so bad that the Jets had no other choice but to throw him off the bus for a bag of beans.

I’m rooting for Moore, but it’s going to be hard to watch him blossom for another team. Douglas got this train on the right track, but it’s also fair to criticize him since he was the one that drafted Moore and Denzel Mims in the first place. A lot of people aren’t talking about that though.


Since McGovern is an offensive player, I’d agree on Moore and Mims if I had to guess. Typically, the “me” guys are skill position players and wide receiver is a leader in that area more often than not.

Replacing Moore and Mims are Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, two absolute professionals who bring leadership traits and a winning culture with them. It’s never ideal to give up on talent, but the Garrett Wilson selection helps ease the pain of the two failed second rounders.

Looking Back on Jets Cuts & the 2023 Practice Squad

3. Out of all the prospects and veterans lost on waivers and in free agency after the 53-man deadline, which departure hurt the most?


Not a single one, which is a great thing. The majority of the Jets roster has been set for a while so there wasn’t as much drama as there has been in years past. This is a championship roster that needed more tinkering than an overhaul and they delivered when it came to final roster cuts.

Like usual, Jets fans overreacted saying — oh no, Zack Kuntz will get claimed or oh no, this guy will. Two guys were claimed, and neither were projected to make the roster. Sometimes we can be a bunch of crybabies for no reason, but the only tears that’ll be happening are on the Bills’ sideline on Monday Night Football baby!


If rookie safety Trey Dean III would have gotten claimed, he would have been the one for me. Some might answer Zonovan “Bam” Knight — who became a fan favorite last season — but the former UDFA didn’t really show much during the preseason, and most will acknowledge Cook is a worthy upgrade at his worst.

My 53-man projections (linked in lede) were pretty close the week before (missed with Dean over linebacker Chazz Surratt on the defensive side and Zack Kuntz over Kenny Yeboah at tight end, as well as wide receivers Xavier Gipson and Irvin Charles in the two IR spots) so I wasn’t all that surprised by the cuts, similar to my partner. Joe Douglas did a great job keeping a ton of talent this year, but I might have shopped around at wide receiver rather than keep both Charles and Gipson as core special teamers.

Aside from that minor complaint, I was slightly disappointed that the Jets didn’t sign tight end E.J. Jenkins to the practice squad. At times, he impressed me more than Kuntz, and I would have liked the Green & White to develop both side-by-side in case one turns out better than the other.

4. Looking at the Jets’ initial 2023 practice squad, which players (if any) do you see playing a legitimate role this season?


I’ll tell you who I’m hoping does not play a legitimate role this season, Tim freaking Boyle. If he does, that is terrible news for the New York Football Jets.

I want New York to throw him in an unmarked van, lock it, then grab that car key and throw it into the ocean. I don’t want Boyle to see the light of day until the Super Bowl parade in February.

I also love that they kept only two quarterbacks on the final 53-man roster. I wasn’t sure that was going to happen, but they did it. So proud of the NYJ front office for locking that in.


Hahaha, great stuff from Boy Green, very funny. I could see the following players seeing elevations either due to injury or special teams impact: veteran LB Sam Eguavoen, veteran DT Tanzel Smart, newcomers Jalyn Holmes (DL) and Marcelino McCrary-Ball (LB), versatile OL Adam Pankey, special teams gunner/CB Craig James and the aforementioned Dean.

Guys like Kuntz, Caleb Johnson, Ryan Swoboda, Marquiss Spencer, Nehemiah Shelton, Xazavian Valladay, Tyreque Jones and Jason Poe feel more like developmental red-shirts, and that just leaves Boyle.

Unfortunately for my partner’s “unmarked van” theory, I do believe Boyle will be elevated three times this season (the max a practice squad player can be elevated). No, not because Aaron Rodgers is injured or Zach Wilson stinks. It just makes sense to utilize them with the new three-QB rule. I’m not sure when, but it’ll probably happen at some point throughout the year.

Week 1 Predictions for Jets vs. Bills

5. As we did last year, we’ll predict each Jets game of the 2023 season — starting with the Monday Night Football opener against the Buffalo Bills.


I’ve had dreams about this, and I have to stick to my guns. I’m predicting a Jets blowout victory over the Bills.

Buffalo isn’t a bad team by any means, but if the Jets can get on top of them early, I think they can ride the momentum of a raucous atmosphere to a statement win. The Jets defensive line is going to eat that Bills offensive line up all night long. Sean McDermott hasn’t called defensive plays in years and will be rusty out of the gates. Stefon Diggs is a drama queen and it’s only a matter of time before he blows up again. And Tremaine Edmunds’ loss was massive this offseason and the Bills never replaced him.

Gang Green wins 31-12, blowing the barn doors off the Bills and announcing to the rest of the league that they have arrived.


I’m going with the Jets as well. I don’t know if it will be a blowout victory, but I do like that all the energy is on the side of Gang Green.

Paul talked a lot about the Bills’ areas of concern, but I’m focused on the Jets. This game is at MetLife Stadium on September 11. If you’re born and raised just outside of Manhattan as I am, you do not sleep on the significance of that.

The Jets players are also amped up on the electricity that Rodgers and the national spotlight have brought this summer. This team doesn’t seem nervous whatsoever, they seem hungry.

The Bills, on the other hand, feel like a juiceless franchise that missed their window. I’ll take the Jets to win this one 24-16.