Jets’ Recent Waiver Steal Could Turn Into Next John Franklin-Myers

Tim Ward

Getty New York Jets defensive end Tim Ward gets facemasked as he attempts a tackle on August 27, 2021.

Joe Douglas is not the perfect general manager, but he has won the benefit of the doubt from most New York Jets fans based on his track record as a talent evaluator.

One of his most underrated moves since taking over this franchise was when he claimed defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers off waivers from the Los Angeles Rams.

‘JFM’ was a former 2018 fourth-round draft pick that the Rams gave up on after an up and down rookie season that culminated in a Super Bowl appearance. Like most championship contenders, L.A. had a crowded roster and attempted to sneak the banged-up D-lineman onto the practice squad.

Douglas was all over it, seizing the opportunity to acquire talent via waivers, and boy has it turned out well so far. Franklin-Myers basically redshirted the 2019 campaign on the Jets injured reserve, but he’s been impressive since then.

In 2020, JFM was the “most underappreciated” member of Gang Green according to analytics expert Cynthia Frelund, with three sacks off 23 quarterback pressures. He only started two games last season, but that didn’t stop the versatile cog from turning into a menace as a rotational pass rusher.

One year later, Franklin-Myers is a projected starter for the Jets at defensive end. On September 1, 2021, Douglas made another waiver claim that gave me JFM flashbacks.

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Jets Claim Tim Ward From Kansas City Chiefs

Although his name doesn’t come with a catchy acronym, Tim Ward’s upside potential reminds me of the Jets’ new starting edge rusher.

As team reporter Eric Allen tweeted, head coach Robert Saleh told Jets media that Ward has “freakish ability” during a press conference on September 1. He elaborated: “[Ward is] long, he’s big, he’s got great bend, he’s got tremendous lower half and it’s just a matter of getting him into our wide-nine style of play and seeing if we can take the harness off him.”

The 6-foot-6 pass-rusher didn’t graduate from the biggest college in the nation (Old Dominion), but neither did Franklin-Myers who went to Stephen F. Austin. The only difference is that Ward went undrafted.

The NFL situation also struck me as similar to JFM’s. Ward is coming from a stacked Super Bowl roster that made it to the championship game in back-to-back seasons. Similar to the Rams, the Chiefs had to make some tough decisions and the hawkish Douglas swooped in at an opportune moment.

Ward only played in one game his rookie campaign, but started it and received 57 defensive snaps. He finished with one sack in the contest off two quarterback pressures, adding five solo tackles which included one that was for a loss. An eye-opening debut to say the least.

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Ward’s Preseason Numbers Were Ridiculous

If you thought the ex-Chief had good statistics during his only regular-season appearance, take a look at his preseason numbers in 2021.

According to Pro Football Focus, Ward earned an all-encompassing 75.6 grade on defense with outstanding 78.6 pass-rush marks and solid 63.6 scores on run defense. The ferocious prospect accumulated three sacks and six total tackles while forcing two fumbles.

Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor determined that Ward’s pass-rush grade actually jumped up to a phenomenal 91.1 in “true pass set situations,” or “unhindered 1-on-1 battles.”

As Douglas and Saleh always say, they’re looking for edge rushers that can win their one-on-ones and Ward has done so with authority thus far in his career. Watch him fly around the edge in NYJ Matt’s tweet below.

This is a special talent that doesn’t just fall into an organization’s lap too often. He’ll have to adapt to first-team offensive lines as he develops his craft, but there’s reason to believe that Douglas may have struck gold on waivers once again.

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