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.
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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.