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NY Jets Friday Spotlight: Jace Amaro

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Time for the rookie's coming out party in New York.

Rich Schultz

Welcome back to the Friday Spotlight.  Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week.  Today's player in the spotlight is Jace Amaro.

Amaro, a 6' 5", 265 pound, 22 year old tight end out of Texas Tech, was drafted by the Jets with the 49th overall pick in the second round of the 2014 draft.  Amaro had a quiet first two years at Texas Tech before exploding for 106 catches for 1352 yards and 7 TDs in his junior year.  The Texas Tech team ran their passing offense through Amaro, and he was nearly unstoppable.  Making the transition to the pro game, however, has not always been easy for Jace.  Amaro struggled in training camp with missed assignments, poorly run routes, and too many dropped balls, dimming hopes he would make an immediate impact on the Jets moribund passing attack.  Rookie tight ends often struggle  mightily in the NFL, and early on this season Amaro looked to be no exception.

As a rookie there isn't much of a relevant pro stat sheet to see, so here are Amaro's college statistics at Texas Tech as well as his rookie statistics with the Jets:

College

Year

Games

Receptions

Yards

Yards/Reception

TDs

.

2011

12

7

57

8.1

2

2012

7

25

409

16.4

4

2013

13

106

1352

12.8

7

NFL

Year

Games

Receptions

Yards

Yards/Reception

TDs

.

2014

5

14

144

10.3

0

In the last few games Jace Amaro has been picking up his game, and has quietly emerged as perhaps the most effective Jets receiver not named Decker.  Amaro is tied with Eric Decker for the second most receptions on the team after Jeremy Kerley, despite having been targeted only 5th most on the team.  Over the last 3 games Amaro has amassed 11 receptions for 131 yards, both figures leading all Jets over that stretch.  Despite getting less than 1/2 the snaps of incumbent starter Jeff Cumberland, Amaro has outperformed Cumberland to date and is making a strong case to supplant Cumberland as the full time starting tight end.  Sunday's game might be an ideal time for Amaro to break out with a big performance.

The Broncos have a very good set of cornerbacks and have generally had success shutting down opposing wide receivers this year.  The linebackers' cover skills, however, have been another story.  The biggest weakness in the Bronco's defense has been covering backs and tight ends in the short and intermediate patterns in the middle of the field typically covered by linebackers.  Opponents have had a great deal of success throwing to running backs and tight ends, to the point where wide receivers have less receiving yards than running backs and tight ends against the Broncos this year, a rather unusual occurrence against NFL defenses.

If the Jets are to have any chance in this game, they are going to need to get the passing attack going.  It is unlikely the Jets will be able to hold Peyton Manning and company under 24 points in this game.  Only the Seahawks (twice) and the Chargers (once) have succeeded in doing so since the beginning of the 2013 NFL season. If the Broncos succeed in scoring more than 24 points, as seems extremely likely, then the Jets will not be able to simply pound the running game all day in hopes of winning a 17-13 type grudge match.  While the Jets will certainly need to succeed in the running game on Sunday, without at least a semblance of a competent passing attack to go with it the Jets are unlikely to score enough points to hang with Peyton and the Broncos.

This is where Amaro comes in.  It appears Eric Decker will still be hobbled and/or out of action on Sunday.  Without a healthy Decker, the Jets are reduced to Jeremy Kerley and a couple of scrubs at the wide receiver position, not exactly the stuff to strike fear into the hearts of a good Broncos secondary.  Jace Amaro may well present one of the only possibilities of creating mismatches on offense, as Amaro should be able to find favorable matchups against Broncos linebackers who are not at their best covering people in pass defense packages.  If the Jets can run their passing offense through Amaro and to a lesser extent Cumberland, they might have a fighting chance to stun the Broncos in MetLife Stadium.

This game on paper looks like it will be a blowout win for the Broncos.  Fortunately for the Jets the game isn't played on paper.  This is the time to unleash Amaro and see what havoc he can wreak.   Jace Amaro is the one player in the Jets' passing offense who has any chance at all at creating matchup problems for the Broncos defense.  Amaro has been coming on of late and assuming a much more prominent role in the Jets' offense.  It's time to let Amaro take over the lead at tight end and run some of the passing offense through him.   If Amaro can break loose and dominate his matchups the Jets passing attack might stand a chance at generating just enough offense to supplement the Jets' ground game and steal a win.  It's a long shot, but it may be the Jets' best shot.  This is Jace Amaro's time in the spotlight.  Let's hope he shines come Sunday afternoon.