Coffee ‘n’ Jets Reaction: Imagine you’re an NFL player who is either a UDFA, journeyman, or coming off a season on the practice squad. You turn up every day; show out in training camp and the pre-season games. Then the end of August comes around and you end up cut while some guy who was invisible through the whole process takes a spot. You’d be asking yourself: why did I bother?
There are lots of things that go into the decision to cut some players and keep others that fans will likely never get to know about. Some players are great to have in the locker room, and some get the scheme so well that it makes them leaders on the field to make sure things go right when players are lining up for plays. But sometimes, Head Coaches and General Managers are just too damn stubborn to let go of “Their Guy”.
Now that the initial 53 man roster has been released for the New York Jets I’ll go over my take on what moves the Jets made that I was pleasantly surprised by, and the moves that left a bad taste in my mouth. The focus of this is going to be on players that the Jets chose to keep rather than the ones that they cut.
Some of the roster cuts leaked out through the day, either through official team channels or the national and beat writers. Being in Japan I got in all in one go; with no chance to grieve for some of the players who got cut, so my opinions on this are quite unforgiving.
Nathan Shepherd – Shepherd was as invisible during the pre-season as he has been during the rest of his time with the Jets. When he was brought back for a team friendly deal in free agency it wasn’t a bad move. But when Tanzel Smart and Jonathan Marshall are showing promise, and have a much clearer upside than Shepherd’s intensely mediocre floor, that should have been it for Shepherd.
The coaching staff clearly like Shepherd and something he brings to the team. I just honestly can’t sit here and say that thing is better defensive line play than Smart or Marshall could offer.
Ashtyn Davis – Davis sticking on this squad is a worrying sign to me that this front office struggles to move on from failed draft picks; believing instead in the upside that they saw three years ago on the college tape. Watching Davis play is frustrating. He seems to understand and read the game well, but then fails to execute almost every time. How many seasons do you give a professional NFL player to learn how to tackle?
Ashtyn Davis defies any reasonable odds to make the Jets roster – Image courtesy of USA Today
If I was Will Parks I’d be furious today. Parks showed genuine, genuine ability at the safety spot this pre-season both during camp and in all three games. The Safety position is so weak right now that having Davis and Tony Adams behind Joyner is a disaster waiting to happen. We have no idea what Joyner is going to look like when he gets on the field, and if we’re trotting out Davis as a starter the back end of this defence is going to get shredded by the like of Joe Burrow and Russell Wilson.
People talk about Pinnock, but to be honest I don’t care about Pinnock being cut. He would have been nice to keep around on the roster to see if he can develop into a good safety going forward, but the people who want to start Pinnock based on some okay games at the end of last season are the same type of people who thought we were good at corner with Hall and Echols. Pinnock should be a practice squad player this year and should make it through waivers which will give the coaching staff chance to develop him further and see what they have in him next year.
Mike White – So much has been tweeted and written about Chris Streveler at this point that there’s not much left to say, so let’s focus instead on White. The arguments for keeping Mike White seem to be as coherent as driving a crane with a concussion; the idea that if Joe Flacco goes down before Wilson is ready to come back it makes any difference whether White or Streveler are playing is laughable. When you’re on your 3rd string quarterback you’re looking at damage limitation.
Also, what has Mike White done to show he’d be the better option in that situation? If you remove the Bengals game, which is the outlier of all outliers, Mike White has been terrible when he’s seen the field. He was the 4th best QB the Jets put on the field in the last three pre-season games. Had he not stepped on the field this pre-season the Jets could probably have gotten a conditional late round pick for him in a trade, but now even that seems like a stretch.
Denzel Mims – The Jets keeping six Receivers and four Tight Ends on the roster was slightly surprising. Mims had a decent off-season but never seemed to be able to break into getting reps with the 1’s which led to him requesting a trade:
A statement from Ron Slavin, agent of #Jets WR Denzel Mims: pic.twitter.com/Na87vimRJd — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 25, 2022
My intuition on this, for what that’s worth, is that teams have called but the Jets wanted more than they were willing to offer. If Mims had been released and hit waivers he’d likely have been picked up, and the Jets want what they think Mims is worth before they let him go. They may end up releasing him anyway if they pick up another OT off waivers; this just gives the front office more time to work on their annual fleecing of some poor GM.
Ty Johnson – We may never find out what it was that kept Ty Johnson on this roster. My fingers had been crossed for Zonovan Knight to make the team after a strong pre-season; my own prediction of the roster did have them keep four 4B, but that included Tevin Coleman, not Johnson. It’s really not clear what Johnson brings over Coleman, but maybe someone has been teaching him to catch during the offseason. Certain beat reports thankfully do not run this offence.
Lawrence Cager – Trying hard not to end on a negative note, it was heart-warming to wake up and see that Cager made the initial cut of this roster. Making the transition to another position is never easy in the NFL as many players find out as they try anything they can to stick around in the league. Cager made his case for this spot strongly in pre-season showing off the type of route running and pass catching ability that will make him a serious threat in this Mike LaFleur offence.
Lawrence Cager came up big for the Jets in every pre-season game and is rewarded with a roster spot – Image courtesy of USA Today
Bam Knight – RBs have already been covered in the notes on Ty Johnson but, like Cager, it was nice to see Knight get rewarded for his hard work this pre-season. He will be deep down the RB depth chart with Hall and Carter likely getting the significant portion of the reps, which will leave Knight fighting for the rest with Johnson. He does have something to offer on special teams though, and should be able to split the return duties with Braxton Berrios to ease that load.
Things Still To Come
The Jets offseason is by no means over. Three Offensive Tackles is not a position you want to go into the season with, and that could mean another offensive position had to sacrifice a spot to bring in another player off waivers or by trade. Nick Bawden being on IR for the season is likely what left the Jets with space to carry four RB and 4 TE so that may change in 2023, and will be interesting to see if they try to pick one up as the season goes on.
My only real anxiety, as you can probably tell from the word count split in this, is the safety position. Tackle depth is something you need but at least we have quality starters there. The next 24-48 hours should tell us most of what we need to know.