Surprising cuts could loom for the New York Jets

Each year, everyone thinks they have a good idea of what their team’s 53-man roster will look like – until they don’t.

The New York Jets‘ three-game preseason run only increased the number of difficult decisions they must make. A bevy of positions became more tightly contested as presumed locks were significantly outplayed by presumed cuts.

Here are a few players who could be shockingly asked to turn in their playbooks, as well as the players who might push them out.

La’Mical Perine (pushed by Josh Adams)

La’Mical Perine and Josh Adams are on different ends of the spectrum when it comes to the amount of capital that is invested into them. Perine was a fourth-round pick last year. Adams was claimed off of waivers in 2019 and is on a one-year contract with $300K guaranteed.

If all things were equal, Perine would have a clear edge over Adams considering that he is a more premium investment.

All things are not equal, though.

Adams led Jets running backs with 5.4 yards per carry in the preseason. Perine ranked fifth out of the Jets’ top-five running backs (Adams, Perine, Michael Carter, Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson) with an average of 2.6 yards per carry.

In the 2020 regular season, Adams led all Jets running backs with an identical 5.4 yards per carry. Perine ranked fourth out five with 3.6 yards per carry, beating out only Frank Gore (3.5).

Will Joe Douglas lean towards his young draft pick or the significantly better performer?

Mike White (pushed by Josh Johnson)

Mike White has been taking most of the Jets’ backup quarterback reps throughout the offseason.

Josh Johnson had seemed like a longshot to make the team considering that he joined the squad late in the offseason and received limited reps in team drills. Things changed in the preseason finale against Philadelphia with White sidelined.

Johnson got the start over James Morgan, a small surprise considering that Morgan had remained ahead of Johnson on the depth chart since Johnson’s arrival.

The journeyman then seized his opportunity as he put forth the best performance of the preseason by a Jets quarterback not named Zach Wilson – and by a massive margin, too. Johnson was great, posting a 144.3 passer rating as he led the Jets to 10 points over three drives.

White and Morgan arguably did not have a single “good” outing across their five combined appearances.

Will the Jets choose Johnson over White based on a trio of preseason drives against a defense filled with backups? Although, to be fair, Johnson was playing with backups.

This will be an interesting one.

Nathan Shepherd (pushed by Jonathan Marshall and Tanzel Smart)

Nathan Shepherd had a rough preseason. He was one of the lowest-graded defensive tackles in the league against the run with a 33.7 run-defense grade at Pro Football Focus. Plus, he’s going to be 28 years old in October and is a holdover from the Mike Maccagnan era.

Rookie sixth-round pick Jonathan Marshall (who will turn 24 in September) offers a similar skill set to Shepherd. Both are great athletes who can make an impact in the passing game but tend to get pushed around against the run.

I can see the Jets picturing Marshall as a younger version of Shepherd, making Shepherd expendable.

Adding to the case to cut ties with Shepherd is Tanzel Smart. He is not young, turning 27 in November, but he had an impressive preseason in which he looked like a perfect fit in the Jets’ defense thanks to his ability to play with a one-gap style. It is easy to picture him succeeding in New York’s 4-3 defense after watching him cannonball his way through gaps on a consistent basis throughout the preseason.

Cool Your Jets Podcast Episode

On the latest episode of the Cool Your Jets podcast, Ben Blessington and Michael Nania compare their 53-man roster predictions while discussing the vast range of possibilities that exist for every position. Plus, they break down Shaq Lawson’s fit with the team and summarize why this was such a positive offseason for the franchise.

Audio Version available to members only. Learn more here.

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Michael Nania is the best analytical New York Jets mind in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania@jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania

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Braden Bethwaite
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Braden Bethwaite

I would be pleased if all that happened