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New York Jets: Three Pleasant Surprises

Jared Wickerham

Since we are at the bye, this is a good time to look back at the first half and change of the season. Below are probably the three biggest pleasant surprise performers for the Jets in the first half.

3. Nick Folk: He has long had legions of supporters in the Jets fanbase and a resume of clutch kicks. This year he has justified the faith of those who have loved him and taken his legend to another level. He has made all 23 of his field goal attempts this year. Over half of those tries have been in excess of 40 yards. Three of them have been in the final minute of the fourth quarter or overtime to win games. He also has become a good kickoff guy out of nowhere with 25 touchbacks and a 56.8% touchback rate through 9 games. Both of these figures smash his previous career highs of 17 touchbacks and 21%. There are still seven games to go. The only thing that keeps Folk from appearing higher is the fact he is a kicker. No matter how good a kicker is, he only has so much value.

2. Antonio Allen: I was tempted to put Demario Davis on this list. Davis was certainly a big question mark, and he did not look great in limited time during his rookie year. Davis was, however, a prospect a lot of people loved and was drafted in the third round. Allen's season has come out of nowhere. The Jets thought so much of Allen's potential that they cut him last year before bringing him back. It looked ugly in preseason. Once the regular season rolled around, Allen started contributing. As an in the box run stopper, he has been effective. He ranks third on the Jets with 49 tackles, and Pro Football Focus has him with the second highest rate of tackles considered "stops" per run play of safeties in the NFL who have played half their team's run snaps. Allen has been shaky against the pass, so much so that the Jets have utilized Jaiquawn Jarrett at times instead of Allen against good passing offenses. Allen, however, did play a reasonably strong game drawing Rob Gronkowski a ton during New York's victory over the Patriots. Gronkowski had 6 catches for 89 yards against Allen, but it took the Pats 14 targets to get him those numbers, an inefficient total. This isn't to say Allen is a star, but the safety has not been the total black hole many of us feared it would be.

1. Damon Harrison: Nose tackle was a huge concern entering this season. The conventional wisdom was the Jets would need 2011 third round pick Kenrick Ellis to step up. Instead Ellis got injured in training camp, and Harrison got more reps. He never gave the job back, parlaying a strong preseason into a full-time role. With Harrison consistently tying up two blockers and winning the point of attack to keep his teammates free, the Jets have allowed both the fewest rushing yards per game and the lowest average yardage per carry in the NFL. To think, the run defense was a major concern to start the year.