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NY Jets fans are underrating these players entering 2023

NY Jets Fans, Corey Davis, Roster
Corey Davis, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets fans are not as high on these players as they should be

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to choose some of the New York Jets players who I think are the most underrated by Jets fans – as opposed to how underrated they are by fans and media who do not follow the Jets.

So, I did not choose players like Michael Carter II and Bryce Huff who frequently get overlooked by the national media and non-Jets fans. Just about every Jets fan knows those guys are good. I focused on players who I believe do not get enough love from their own fanbase.

Corey Davis

In his first season with the Jets, Corey Davis quickly put himself on the bad side of Jets fans with an unusually drop-prone season. His 15.0% drop rate in 2021 was 2.5 times higher than his previous career rate of 5.9%. Additionally, his 46.2% contested catch rate was down from his Tennessee average of 55.2%. Since then, Davis has had a hard time getting back on the good side of fans, largely due to injuries.

Davis was having a bounce-back season in 2022 before a Week 7 knee injury derailed things. Through Week 6, he was averaging 58.5 receiving yards per game on a highly efficient 10.6 yards per target, showing a penchant for making clutch catches in the fourth quarter. Plus, his drop rate was back down to 5.0%. Davis also went 4-for-7 on contested catches (57.1%).

In Week 7, Davis left the Jets’ game in Denver with a knee injury and he proceeded to miss the next three games. Davis also missed a game in Week 15 with a concussion. Over his final seven games, Davis averaged only 26.4 yards per game. His drop rate went back up to 13.3% and his contested catch rate dropped to 41.7% (5-for-12).

Yes, Davis needs to stay healthy going forward. That is a legitimate criticism. But as a player, Davis’ reputation among Jets fans is stained by an extreme outlier of a cold start in 2021 and the effects of horrid quarterback play for two years. Davis is a good football player.

Jets fans often forget how productive Davis was for the Titans in 2020 – the only season of his six-year career when he enjoyed a full season of good quarterback play. With a red-hot Ryan Tannehill under center for all 16 games, Davis averaged 70.3 yards per game on 10.7 yards per target while posting a 5.8% drop rate and 64.7% contested catch rate.

On film, the Jets version of Davis (when healthy) hasn’t looked like a much different player than the Titans version. He brings a wide catch radius, solid intermediate route-running skills, and toughness after the catch. It’s just hard to put up impressive numbers when Zach Wilson and Joe Flacco are throwing you the football.

If Davis can stay healthy, he should remind Jets fans how solid he is with Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. And there is hope for Davis in the injury department. Davis was not an injury-prone player before joining the Jets. Over four years with Tennessee, he only missed six games due to non-COVID ailments. He has now missed 11 games in two years with New York. Perhaps a return to the norm is in his future.

Davis’ impact as a blocker is highly underappreciated, too. Even when he is not making noise as a receiver, Davis is creating holes for his teammates in the run game.

Tyler Conklin

Just like Davis, Tyler Conklin quickly got on the bad side of Jets fans with an unexpected spike in drops to begin his Jets career. Conklin dropped three passes in his first four games after dropping one in all of 2021 with Minnesota. He also had a fumble in each of the first two games after fumbling twice in four years with the Vikings.

After the cold start, Conklin was back to normal for the majority of the season. Conklin never fumbled again, and from Week 5 on, he had one drop against 37 receptions (2.6% drop rate).

Conklin finished the season with good numbers. He ranked 10th among tight ends in receptions (58) and 12th in receiving yards (552). That wasn’t far off from the 61 receptions and 592 yards he had in 2021. Conklin was one of only six tight ends who had at least 58 receptions and 552 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons.

There isn’t much flashy about Conklin’s game, but he is a solid starter thanks to his reliable and fundamentally-sound skill set. He is a great route-runner for the position, has soft hands, and is a consistent run-blocker. Conklin gave the Jets exactly what they paid for throughout the majority of the year.

Thomas Hennessy

Long snappers are always underrated, but I think Thomas Hennessy is particularly underrated because I’m not sure enough Jets fans understand exactly how good he is for the position.

Hennessy is the longest-tenured Jet and has played in all 98 of the team’s games since 2017. His durability is commendable, and more importantly, the fact that he has stuck around this long is a sign of how reliable he is.

Back in April, the Jets confirmed how highly they think of Hennessy by signing him to a four-year, $5.97 million contract extension. It includes $2.625 million in guarantees – the largest guarantee in the league among long snappers.

Hennessy’s punt-coverage skills are what set him apart as a unique long snapper. He has recorded 20 tackles since joining the Jets in 2017, tying him with Philadelphia’s Rick Lovato for the most among long snappers over that span.

Hennessy’s tackling efficiency is particularly impressive. According to PFF, Hennessy has not missed a tackle since 2019 and has missed only two tackles over the past five seasons. For reference, the average 17-game long snapper in 2022 had 1.6 missed tackles. At that rate, Hennessy should have had eight missed tackles over the past five seasons, yet he only missed two – saving six whiffs versus average.

Most importantly, Hennessy’s snaps are consistently accurate. Can you think of a disastrous snap by Hennessy in his time with the team? Neither can I, because it does not exist.

Hennessy is the gold standard at the sport’s most overlooked position.

John Franklin-Myers

I don’t see John Franklin-Myers receive as much hype from fans on social media as other players on the Jets defense, and I’m not sure why. He is one of the best players on this defense and is right up there with Quinnen Williams and Alijah Vera-Tucker as one of the best two-way players on the team (ability to affect pass game and run game).

My theory is that Franklin-Myers’ roughing the passer penalty against the Patriots in Week 8 is the explanation for his lack of fanfare relative to what he deserves. Because Franklin-Myers isn’t the flashiest player, a huge chunk of his impact goes unnoticed by the casual fan, so this killer penalty is probably the first thing many fans think of when they hear Franklin-Myers’ name.

That penalty wiped out a Michael Carter II pick-six that would have put the Jets up 17-3 going into the half. Instead, the Jets went into the half up 10-6, and they ultimately lost 17-22. The loss snapped New York’s four-game win streak and kicked off a 2-8 finish to the season. Many fans point to the Franklin-Myers penalty as the start of the team’s downfall.

Franklin-Myers’ penalty against New England was not his first back-breaker of the year. It’s not as remembered as the Patriots one, but in Week 3, Franklin-Myers had a big roughing the passer penalty against the Bengals that wiped out a third-down stop in the first quarter. The Jets were down just 7-6 at the time. Cincinnati responded with a touchdown three plays later, taking a 14-6 lead and never relinquishing their stranglehold on the game.

So, yeah, those were killers, for sure. And because Franklin-Myers isn’t a highlight-play guy, those killer penalties are the most memorable plays to his name.

I understand Jets fans’ pain when thinking back to those moments. But it’s not fair to judge a player on his two biggest mistakes rather than his entire body of work. Franklin-Myers is an excellent defensive lineman when you look at the whole picture.

Since his first season with the Jets in 2020, Franklin-Myers has recorded 155 pressures, tying him for 19th among all defensive linemen. His consistency is unique; Franklin-Myers posted at least 50 pressures in each of the past three seasons, joining Chris Jones, Myles Garrett, and Brian Burns as the only players to accomplish the feat.

As I broke down in a recent film review, Franklin-Myers is also a standout run defender on the edge. He doesn’t get a ton of tackles himself, but he is outstanding at setting up his teammates for success.

It is crucial to note that penalties are not nearly as much of an issue for Franklin-Myers as it may seem. Franklin-Myers has been called for seven penalties in his three seasons with the Jets. That ties him for the 70th-most among defensive linemen since 2020. It’s just unfortunate that some of Franklin-Myers’ penalties have come at the absolute worst times.

In fact, Franklin-Myers is one of only three players with more than 150 pressures and fewer than eight penalties since 2020, joining Jonathan Allen, DeForest Buckner, and Rashan Gary.

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Jim G
1 year ago

I disagree about Corey Davis. It isn’t his stats as much as he was sold to Jets fans as a true WR1. He was paid good, but not premium, WR1 money. He failed in that role. He failed so spectacularly that the Jets had to use a 1st round draft pick on a true WR1 in 2022.

Aaron Rodgers has enough WRs to throw to. I see Corey Davis as a No. 3 read on most 3 WR plays. After 2023, it may be time to upgrade from him.

Peter Buell
1 year ago

As far as JFM goes…one play dosent make the player.
That being said, the roughing penalty against Gastinaeu in the Cleveland playoff game almost made me drive off the Brooklyn Bridge…game was over…but wait..theres a flag…yuck.
Back to today, I couldn’t be more excited with moving Clemmons inside and JFM splitting inside and outside.
Huff Q Will JFM Clemmons Lawson
w/Al Wood and Q Jeff rotations along with JJ Johnson and McDonald…throw in the best 3 man corner including Carter2 with Sauce and DJ and an upgraded safety room.
Quincey Williams has blossomed but I want Kwon back and with Amos coming up into the box…I can’t wait to see the D this year.
I feel the D gave up too many 3rd downs last year..and that’s alot on LB and safeties…Amos will help. More excited about the D this year while all the attention is on the offense.
This can be the best D in football this year.

1 year ago

Interesting take here, I agree all those guys seem to get less attention or praise from the fans base but I feel there are reasons why. They have “what- ifs” with the exception of Hennessey.

Davis has played well IF healthy, something he hasn’t done for the Jets, and JFM, is one of their best 2 way players IF he can shake off the “dumb.” Conklin’s stretch early in the season was really bad, and he was riding high from “fan love” from the pre-season. You are right, I still don’t trust him because of it. He didn’t have a fumble and only the one drop but he had some shaky plays that still left me doubting.

My feeling is IF those things happen they will get their share of love.

Jonathan Richter
1 year ago

Good article. I agree.