Last week the New York Jets signed their starting center off the practice squad a few days before their game in Oakland. Wesley Johnson was the 11th offensive lineman on the 53 man roster.
This begs the following question. The Jets clearly do not mind carrying excess offensive linemen. Why then was the guy they consider their second best center on the practice squad before last week? Maybe they would say there was nobody set in stone to start in case Nick Mangold went down. They wanted to get competitiony Idzik style and find the best guy. I can understand that.
Why is Dakota Dozier still using up a roster spot then? He is not the top fill-in at guard. Brian Winters is. We have evidence. Winters filled in when Willie Colon got hurt. Dozier apparently cannot even start over a guy signed just off the practice squad. Maybe Dozier is the second guard. I can understand that.
Why are Jarvis Harrison, Brent Qvale, and Ben Ijalana all on the roster then? How many people do the Jets need to fill in at guard? What are the odds there would be enough injuries that all of these guys would need to play? Couldn't the team find somebody off the street just as talented? Heck, there is a good chance these guys would go unsigned and be available in an emergency. Maybe you need somebody at tackle, but do you need all of these guys? Even if two of them are at tackle, these guys can also play guard. Would there really be a big difference between Qvale and Ijalana at guard opposed to Harrison and Dozier?
You can see why this makes a difference given the team's current situation at safety. There are only three safeties on the roster, and one is hurt. The Jets went into last week's game with only two players at the position. Yes, if roster limits did not exist, having as many linemen as possible would make some sense. They do, though. Every roster spot used on a lineman is one not used somewhere else. The Jets ended up giving Marcus Williams a lot of snaps at safety against the Oakland Raiders, as a result and the results were ugly.
Todd Bowles downplayed the lack of depth at safety before last week's game.
All the corners can play back up safety... they practice back there.
He also dismissed the idea that Williams' struggles came because he was playing safety.
His struggles didn’t occur at safety. They occurred at missing tackles. You can do that at corner, nickel or whatever the case may be. He missed some tackles just like everybody else.
Now I think there is some truth to that. The difference between cornerback and safety is probably not as vast in this defense as people make it out to be. And tackles are tackles. Williams is an NFL player. Surely he can do better than he did against the Raiders.
I am also not going to tell you that the Jets would have won the game with another safety. This was a defense-wide meltdown. The two safeties available who know the system best are Ronald Martin and Rontez Miles. They are on the practice squad and that is for a reason. They might not have been able to play at a level much better than Williams.
Still, I wonder whether the Jets are maximizing their roster. When you have multiple linemen who will never see a snap barring a very unlikely catastrophe yet enter a game in Oakland without even a backup at a certain position, it does leave the coaching staff and front office open to questioning.
Again, we are talking about bottom of the roster players. How much would this move the needle? We are not likely talking about a huge difference. Whether the Jets are building the best roster they can from top to bottom is an important question, though.