Jeremy Ruckert, NY Jets, Film, Rookie
Jeremy Ruckert, New York Jets, Getty Images

Long Island native Jeremy Ruckert showed off his New York grit in Miami

Despite already being eliminated from the playoffs, the New York Jets continued playing most of their key starters for the season finale in Miami. However, due to the absence of tight end C.J. Uzomah, there was one Jets rookie who still ended up getting his biggest spotlight of the season: tight end Jeremy Ruckert.

The third-rounder from Ohio State played a season-high 19 snaps against the Dolphins. That represented 34% of the Jets’ offensive snaps, which was also a season-high for the Long Island native.

The only other time Ruckert got to play an extended role this season was in Week 2 against the Browns when he played 18 snaps (26%). From Weeks 3 to 17, Ruckert played just 9 offensive snaps in 7 games – he mostly played on special teams over this span.

Based on how he played in Week 18, I have no clue why Ruckert was not playing more often throughout the season.

It probably went unnoticed by most viewers who watched from home. But Ruckert was dominant against the Dolphins.

When I was reviewing the film of this game, Ruckert’s blocking constantly popped off the screen. Ruckert wasn’t just “good for a rookie” or “promising”. He was a beast – no stipulations required.

Let’s get into the film.

New York Jets TE Jeremy Ruckert’s film vs. Miami Dolphins

First off, you just have to admire the tenacity Ruckert shows on this rep as he makes it clear that he will play through the whistle. Ruckert out-hustles his matchup, which coaches love to see. Plus, when you block with this level of physicality – planting a man on the ground – it sends a message to the opposing team. The Jets’ coaches are going to adore this rep when they watch it back.

A common theme you will notice throughout these clips is Ruckert’s ability to make blocks in space. He looked fluid when the Jets asked him to block on the move. Ruckert was explosive out of his stance and took great angles to defenders.

A tight end’s block can hardly get more impressive than this. Ruckert comes across the formation and steamrolls the linebacker, planting him on the ground. It’s a combination of mobility and tenacity, wrapped into one perfect package for this beautiful block.

The Jets sometimes used Ruckert in pre-snap motion. Here, Ruckert motions back and forth prior to the snap. He eventually settles in at the H-back spot, where he leads the way for Zonovan Knight. Ruckert first provides an excellent chip on Tyler Conklin’s man, creating a huge chunk of lateral displacement on the edge defender. Then, Ruckert climbs and picks up the defensive back, driving him more than five yards vertically down the field.

We see a similar pre-snap motion from Ruckert. He comes out of his in-line position before eventually settling at H-back, although this time he positions himself further outside than he did in the previous clip. However, contrary to the previous clip, the Jets ask him to come back across to the left side and kick out the linebacker – which Ruckert again does with gusto.

Ruckert’s angling is the most impressive aspect of these blocks. In this clip, for example, look at how perfectly he anticipates where he must go to meet the defender. Ruckert attacks the perfect spot to meet his man head-on and deliver the hardest blow possible. He’s not too far outside, not too far inside, not too aggressive, and not too conservative. It’s simply a great job of reading his defender and feeling out the play. On-the-move blocking is all about getting to the right spot at the right time, and Ruckert consistently excelled at that in this game.

Ruckert motions across to the opposite end of the line and flat-out mauls the edge defender, driving him from inside of the numbers to outside of them.

Jeremy Ruckert will aim for the Jets’ TE2 role next year

I previously published an article that analyzed the run-blocking production of all Jets players in the 2022 season through Week 17. It revealed that C.J. Uzomah had a very disappointing season as the Jets’ primary blocking tight end. He was one of the most detrimental run-blockers on the roster.

The Jets cannot escape Uzomah’s contract this offseason, so he will stick around, but that does not mean he has to remain the Jets’ TE2 and primary blocking tight end in 2023. Ruckert will have a chance to steal the role. Being a third-round pick, it’s not as if the Jets invested chump change into him. That’s a relatively high selection. They picked him in that part of the draft because they believe in his potential to become a key cog in the offense.

In Miami, Ruckert finally showcased that potential. His blocking was outstanding.

Most importantly, Ruckert’s on-the-move blocking was outstanding. These blocks are the ones that Uzomah struggled with the most. Uzomah is a decent in-line blocker, but he is a liability when asked to move around. And yet, the Jets constantly asked him to do it all season, despite his consistent struggles.

Ruckert has the potential to be much better than Uzomah when it comes to pulling, leading, inserting, motioning, and all of these versatile things that the Jets want their tight ends to do in the run game. Ruckert also offers potential to line up in unique alignments such as H-back and fullback, which Uzomah cannot do.

It’s just one game, so let’s not overreact. And as for why Ruckert did not play more throughout the season, it makes no sense to speculate since we have no idea what happened in practice. Perhaps Ruckert did not show the Jets’ coaches that he was ready through his performance on the practice field.

Still, this was an exciting way for Ruckert to close the season. If he can give the Jets a full season of what he just showed in Miami, it will be a massive boost for their run game.

The battle for the Jets’ 2023 blocking tight end role has officially begun.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds 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[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
22 days ago

Thanks for this. As with all Jets fans, I could use some good news about now. Watching those blocks put a smile on my face. But it also makes me wonder why we haven’t seen more of him throughout the year.

mlesko73
mlesko73
23 days ago

Great job Mike
Not sure why you zoned in on Ruckert, but glad you did (I hope someone close to him shows him the article!)
Depressing part is watching him blow-up a defender only to have others be abject failures (see #3).
As with other decisions to be made this off-season, the Uzomah one is difficult. Honestly, the unit was severely under-utilized, especially in the red-zone. This is one of the biggest condemnations for LaFleur.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
24 days ago

Well that was unexpected.

I’m hoping for rays of hope from other places. DE (JJ), LB (Sherwood) and S (Adams) to be precise, but I’ll take it.

BigJetsFan1
BigJetsFan1
24 days ago

Great article as usual. You stand head and shoulders above all Jets commentators. Can someone retire Rich C already? Nothing but negatives. I watched the game yesterday and I didn’t see any of this. If the Jets FO had any sense, they would hire you and put you in charge of media. Bland, bland bland is the theme for the Jets media. Keep it up, Michael. You are extremely talented. Your road to national recognition is just beginning.

Freedom1789
Freedom1789
24 days ago

I thought that this was going to be a tongue in cheek article, so I was pleased to see the dominance was true. As you state, one game, but does this coaching staff perhaps not see the potential in some of the non-starters and is sticking with others too long? Didn’t we see that already with Knight (practice squad!) and Mitchell? Trade Uzomah and get 5.6 million off the cap.