Home | Articles | Film Room | NY Jets must bench struggling veteran who is crushing the offense

NY Jets must bench struggling veteran who is crushing the offense

Robert Saleh, NY Jets, Head Coach
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets can start turning the offense around by making this move

Before the New York Jets begin shuffling the offensive line around (and they absolutely need to do that soon if things don’t change quickly for the unit), there is a much simpler move they can make to help jumpstart the offense: benching C.J. Uzomah.

It flies under the noses of many in the national media, but Uzomah has been performing woefully since he signed with the Jets and should be receiving just as much flack as the team’s oft-criticized offensive line. His 2022 season was a massive disappointment relative to the three-year, $24 million contract he signed.

Uzomah is in New York to block. Catching passes has never been his thing. He had an outlier year as a receiver for Cincinnati in 2021, but overall, he is averaging 1.9 receptions for 19.0 yards in his career. The Jets signed him to be a road-grader in the running game.

Instead, Uzomah has been a pothole.

Based on my charting of every Jets run-blocking rep in 2022, I rated Uzomah as the third-most detrimental run blocker on the team. Only Laken Tomlinson and Duane Brown allowed more run-stuffs above expectation, per my charting. Watching the film, Uzomah constantly popped out as a primary culprit for allowing runs to be stuffed.

The hope was that Uzomah could bounce back as a blocker in 2023. Instead, he has been even worse.

Through two games, the film is littered with examples of Uzomah’s blocking being an enormous liability at important junctures of the game. Here, Uzomah loses his rep almost immediately and allows an easy four-yard loss on Breece Hall for the Jets’ first offensive play of the game.

Later, despite having outside leverage to the play side, Uzomah allowed Micah Parsons to cross his face and get all the way to the sideline to stuff Dalvin Cook for a two-yard loss. In the process, Parsons stripped the ball from Cook.

It would be one thing if the Jets did not have a viable replacement for Uzomah. But they do. And he’s not only viable – he is extremely intriguing.

Jeremy Ruckert, the Jets’ third-round pick in 2022, is off to a phenomenal start this year. Despite getting limited reps, Ruckert’s blocking has shined every time he takes the field.

Against Buffalo, Ruckert threw one of the key blocks on Breece Hall’s 83-yard run.

Ruckert flashed dominance on other reps as well. On this play, while Uzomah is busy allowing a third-and-1 stuff, you can see Ruckert blocking a defender 10 yards downfield.

The Jets allow this play to get stuffed but Ruckert blocks Pro Bowl cornerback Tre’Davious White into no man’s land.

Ruckert kept his excellence going against Dallas. Here, he leads the way for a six-yard run on first down alongside Alijah Vera-Tucker and Mekhi Becton.

Ruckert blocks a defensive back out of the screen on this play.

As I mentioned in that tweet, Ruckert played only five snaps against Dallas, which was 11% of the Jets’ offensive plays. Five! That was actually a decline from the 18 snaps (33% of plays) he played against Buffalo despite how good he looked and how poor Uzomah looked.

Yet, Uzomah played 14 snaps against Dallas (30% of the offensive snaps), nearly triple Ruckert’s total.

To be fair, that was a significant drop from the 30 snaps (56%) he played against Buffalo, but let’s be honest: anything above zero feels like too much for Uzomah right now. He’s bringing nothing of value to the offense.

We know Uzomah doesn’t help in the receiving game – he hasn’t even been targeted once this year, and he averaged just 1.4 receptions per game in 2022 despite 35.0 offensive snaps per game. So, if he doesn’t catch passes and he is constantly giving up killer run-stuffs… what exactly does he do?

Not only is Uzomah crushing the Jets with his blocking, but for some mysterious reason, Nathaniel Hackett continues to deploy Uzomah as a route runner on the outside – and it’s hurting the passing game. There are multiple plays per game in which Uzomah is flexed out either in the slot or out wide despite the fact that he is not a route-running threat in the slightest.

On one play against Dallas, this caused a sack. Uzomah lines up in the slot and is Zach Wilson‘s first read, but he predictably gets clamped by the defensive back, so Wilson has nowhere to go with the ball and gets sacked.

At 6-foot-6 with very little short-area quickness or route-running finesse, Uzomah is a complete non-threat when he lines up in the slot or on the outside. While he can go make a red-zone catch, sit down in the middle of the field for checkdowns, or catch a crossing route that is schemed up for him, he will never beat anybody one-on-one. So why is he lining up in spots like this while Mecole Hardman spends most of the game on the bench?

Hackett is flat-out making the Jets a worse team by placing Uzomah in those spots instead of Hardman – or even Randall Cobb, who was also not on the field for the sack play shown above.

If Hackett insists on putting a tight end in those spots, he should put Ruckert there. Ruckert’s route-running ceiling is immensely higher than Uzomah’s. He’s a much smoother athlete and has shown more refined route-running skills.

There aren’t many reasons to be hopeful that Uzomah will suddenly turn things around. As a matter of fact, he was already struggling in the preseason against Carolina’s backups. The writing has been on the wall.

The Jets’ offensive line is a slightly more complex discussion due to the lack of appealing fallback options. However, at tight end, the Jets have a very easy solution on their hands: bench the old, declining, and struggling player for the young, rapidly improving, and thriving player. New York’s offense will become significantly better simply by taking Uzomah out of the lineup and giving all of his snaps to Ruckert.

The time has come. Ruckert has done everything he possibly could to earn the TE2 job while Uzomah has done everything he could to lose it. Hackett and Saleh would be wise to avoid prolonging the inevitable and make this change immediately. It’s a seamless way to make the offense more talented.

Want More Jet X?

Subscribe to become a Jet X Member to unlock every piece of Jets X-Factor content (film breakdowns, analytics, Sabo with the Jets, etc.), get audio versions of each article, receive the ability to comment within our community, and experience an ad-free platform experience.

Download the free Jet X Mobile App to get customizable notifications directly to your iOS (App Store) or Android (Google Play) device.

Sign up for Jet X Daily, our daily newsletter that's delivered to your inbox every morning at 8:00 a.m. ET.

Add Jets X-Factor to your Google News feed and/or find us on Apple News to stay updated with the New York Jets.

Follow us on X (Formerly Twitter) @jetsxfactor for all the latest New York Jets news, Facebook for even more, Instagram for some of the top NY Jets images, and YouTube for original Jets X-Factor videos.

Related Articles

About the Author

More From Author


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments