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How to determine the truth about NY Jets’ controversial players

Carter Warren
Carter Warren

These New York Jets players and prospects are not what their hype says they are

There are always a million and one opinions about the New York Jets. From the casual fan to the in-depth analyst, takes about various players abound.

The issue is that not all opinions are created equal. Figuring out which opinion to trust is difficult. Therefore, it’s easy to take shortcuts and choose to evaluate players in one of three ways.

  • Trust the opinion of a former NFL player; after all, he clearly evaluated talent in his day.
  • Follow the advice of the national (or local) analysts with the highest profiles.
  • Choose an analyst, evaluate their track record, and assess whether they have earned trust.

From a fan perspective, the most commonly chosen paths are the first two. Former NFL players have clout just for having worn the jersey — never mind that they never evaluated talent and their skill in film breakdown may vary widely. Or, if the analyst has thousands of followers, surely that means they know what they’re talking about.

The issue is that these two types of analysts often steer millions of fans wrong. They make bold proclamations that are easily disproven with foresight but given a pass even in failed hindsight. In particular, some of those have permeated the Jets’ offseason and pre-draft process, and they color fans’ visions of how the team should look in 2024.

In this article, we’ll aim to debunk some of those common myths surrounding the Jets.

Carter Warren is a viable starting/swing tackle in 2024.

Remember, Carter Warren missed training camp in 2023 after having been injured in 2022. Of course, that must mean that he’ll improve automatically if given time — because that’s what happens with every prospect who misses time due to injury and falls to the fourth round and misses extensive practice time.

When Joe Blewett pointed out from Warren’s college film that he doesn’t sustain run blocks, lacks understanding of run schemes, lunges for contact, has an all-or-nothing inside punch, bends from the waist, oversets, etc., etc. — that told me something about the quality of prospect we’re talking about. Warren came into the NFL as a big project.

Then Warren took the field in 2023. The numbers were not pretty: 7.8% pressure rate (32nd percentile among OT), 13.9% true pass set pressure rate (21st percentile), 49.9 Pro Football Focus run-blocking grade (13th percentile), 35.1 gap-blocking grade (2nd percentile).

Most importantly, the film not only backed up the numbers — it amplified them.

Warren wears No. 67.

It’s not just that Warren allowed pressure — it’s that he often couldn’t even stop the pass rusher at all in their pursuit of the quarterback. Warren doesn’t just need minor technique adjustments. Even an inexperienced eye can see that he’s nowhere close to playable in the NFL.

This is why I find it laughable that a former NFL player would say he sees the potential in Warren. An amateur could see how raw Warren is. I don’t care if that player was Jonathan Ogden himself. It takes a tremendous amount of gaslighting or self-delusion to see anything but a major project in Warren.

Therefore, Jets fans who think that Warren could be the team’s swing tackle are deluding themselves. Using a former NFL player to back up that delusion just lumps the player into the same camp as those trusting him. Using the Jets themselves — well, they came into 2023 training camp trusting Max Mitchell or Billy Turner to be the team’s starting right tackle.

And the fact that Warren missed so much practice time? That doesn’t change the narrative surrounding him at all. Perhaps it means the Jets could give him a true redshirt season to see if there’s anything there, but to rely on him as anything more than a major project — to expect him to play any games at all — is, once again, delusional.

Javon Kinlaw has a higher upside than Quinton Jefferson, and the Jets’ coaching staff will unlock that potential.

Consider this trope: the Jets’ vaunted defensive coaching staff will turn every scrub into a superstar.

Did they turn Solomon Thomas, the former first-round bust, into a superstar? Did Sheldon Rankins and Al Woods burst onto the scene with career-best production when they joined the Jets?

No. The players who have played next to Quinnen Williams since his 2022 breakout performed at approximately the same level they did before coming to the Jets. Thomas is a solid backup. Rankins’ numbers were not far off from what they had been previously. Ditto for Quinton Jefferson and Woods. If none of those players broke out next to Williams, why should Javon Kinlaw?

Kinlaw didn’t exactly come from a defensive line lacking talent. He played with Javon Hargrave, Arik Armstead, and Nick Bosa. His performance in 2023 was solid but unspectacular. If the former first-round pick couldn’t blossom into a star next to those guys, why would he suddenly break out just because he moved on to a different star?

To seal the point, Jefferson is a well above-average pass rusher. Among 91 interior defensive linemen with at least 225 pass-rush snaps, Jefferson’s 12.1% pressure rate ranked ninth. Kinlaw, meanwhile, ranked 33rd at 9.6%. This was the first season Kinlaw was even an above-average pass rusher, while Jefferson’s pressure rate had been in the same range for several consecutive seasons.

In other words, Jefferson set a very high bar for pass rushers. The chances that Kinlaw can step into those shoes and come close to the same production are not strong. The former first-round pedigree does not change that.

Saleh disagrees, but perhaps a bit of self-honesty is warranted.

Jeremy Ruckert is a good in-line blocker.

The Jets seem prepared to hand Jeremy Ruckert their No. 2 tight end position. The No. 1 job of that position is in-line blocking. Unfortunately, Ruckert is a lot more inconsistent as a blocker than many Jets fans believe. He can be smooth on the move but struggles in line.

Ruckert and C.J. Uzomah combined for 34 targets in 2023, indicating that the primary job of the Jets’ No. 2 tight end is to block. If Ruckert cannot do that well, perhaps the Jets should look to add a veteran tight end.

Or maybe not. Maybe the Jets’ offense is solid enough that they can afford a struggling No. 2 tight end on a cheap deal. Still, it’s a mistake to think that Ruckert is much of an upgrade from Uzomah in the blocking department.

Justin Simmons would take the Jets’ defense to the next level.

I hear many Jets fans talking about how this would be a luxury move that, while unlikely to come to fruition due to Joe Douglas’ devaluation of the position, would take the Jets’ defense to the next level. In fact, Simmons’ level of play was largely below average in 2023; he ranked in the 27th percentile among safeties in yards per target (9.0), 31st percentile in defensive stop rate (1.6%), and 43rd percentile in missed tackle rate (11.8%).

That’s hardly elite safety play. For reference, Tony Adams ranked in the 35th percentile in yards per target (8.5), 76th percentile in stop rate (2.6%), and 19th in missed tackle rate (15.3%). The difference is not so drastic as to make the move worthwhile.

Robert Saleh indicated that the team is not done adding to the safety room. That likely means bringing back Ashtyn Davis or another player of a similar ilk. Even if Chuck Clark could slide into that role, though, Simmons should not be the other safety added to the room.

Ezekiel Elliott would be a good backup RB for the Jets.

This is the No. 1 target cited by Jets fans for the team’s backup running back position. If you think about it, though, backup running backs generally serve three functions: pass protection, short-yardage prowess, and receiving ability out of the backfield.

Ezekiel Elliott ranked 44th out of 45 qualified backs with a 17.5% pressure rate allowed as a pass blocker in 2023. He allowed the most pressures among all backs (12). In addition, his 55.6% success rate in short-yardage situations ranked 31st out of 36 backs with at least 9 such attempts. His -0.24 EPA per target ranked 27th out of 43 backs with at least 30 targets.

Does Elliott fulfill any of those three functions? Despite his reputation as a short-yardage maestro and strong pass protector, the numbers indicate that the Jets should pass.

Draft takes

Considering that many of the above opinions have been espoused by well-regarded analysts, it would be wise to utilize caution when choosing who to trust for draft takes. Although the draft is notoriously difficult to predict, creating big boards based on highlight reels and the words of so-called experts will often steer fans toward befuddled disappointment.

I will not identify specific analysts or takes in this article, although I’ve written about many. However, it’s worth taking a peek at the All-22 film and getting some sense of what the player does well relative to the expectations of the position.

For example:

  • Does an offensive lineman end up on the ground a lot?
  • Are his hands high and/or wide?
  • How often did he go one-on-one with an opponent without a quick release or other mitigating factor, and what happened on those reps?
  • Does he latch and lift opponents or merely shove them?
  • Is there any nuance to the way the receiver runs routes, or is he mostly running in a straight line?
  • Has the receiver faced press coverage and shown an ability to beat it?
  • Does the receiver create separation on his own, or does he come wide open because of scheme or bad/soft coverage?

Answering some of these questions will often counteract the common narratives that come from watching highlights. Of course, not everyone has the time to watch film — but it may be wise to refrain from adamant opinions without having done one’s due diligence.

It seems apt to conclude with a quote from an NFL general manager that could just as easily be applied to so many of the prominent voices in draft evaluation.

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DFargas
DFargas
1 month ago

To my knowledge Mekhi Becton remains unsigned. If Carter Warren is nowhere near capable of being a backup swing tackle, should the Jets resign Becton to fill that role? I have the feeling he is not as bad as he looked last season and that he was very much hampered by the knee, which should be fully healed by now. I also think the Jets coaching staff likes him better than the media and fans. Given the unknowns of even a first round pick at OT, a fully healed and rejuvenated Becton might still play a major role in the future.

Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago

I like the overall point of this article but I do think you take it to some extreme. First, a big problem I have is that anybody who watches the “all-22” now thinks they have validation for their opinion. Well, we have no idea if that person actually knows what they are or should be looking for, just because they “watch the film” doesn’t mean they are credible. The new thing now…”I watched the film” and all of a sudden…validation. I watch too, doesn’t mean I KNOW.

I have noticed you have more and more been using other writers/bloggers/analysts from this site as “sources” for your articles. I LOVE this site, it’s easily my best source for real info on the Jets, however dismissing the opinions of anybody who isn’t part of this group is a bit short-sighted, and slightly narcissistic. It’s not like the opinions from those who work here are 100% accurate. Everybody makes mistakes. You thought it was a reach for Breece Hall to mention one (not a knock on you, we all have our opinions and miss.)

I however VERY much agree with you that most if not all of the national media is lazy, and as Ben Blessington pointed out, the “Jets’ Beat” is useless (see what I did there …quoted someone from this site). Taking some mix of all info will probably give the best overall view but we all have our own experience to lean on as well.

For example, some of the takes you have here are legit, but you don’t count for the fact that players can improve. Carter Warren may indeed become a serviceable swing tackle, you don’t know for sure he won’t. Kinlaw may have his potential unlocked, maybe in the way Quincy Williams did? Nobody saw him becoming an all pro, in fact Michael Nania hated him, and was convinced he was going nowhere, and Michael is the voice I trust the most when it comes to the Jets.

So maybe a little less of “we know better” and bit more humility, since in fact there are lots of swings in misses with these ‘opinion/analytic” pieces.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jets71
Jets71
Jets71
1 month ago
Reply to  Rivka Boord

Makes sense…although…I don’t know how you can say Hall was over drafted, and I’d say Solomon Thomas is much more productive now that he was in SF, some would say that constitutes development. Quinnen Williams didn’t come to the Jets as an All pro, how can you say they have no track record developing DT’s?

I just feel the frame by frame stuff that then takes the outlier of a player and uses that to “label” them as good/bad/decent etc doesn’t represent “how good a player is…” for example Quincy still may have coverage flaws but he’s an all pro. Just because he’s not a perfect player doesn’t make him overrated.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jets71
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