During Saturday night's game, something stuck out about the way the Jets were using wide receiver Quincy Enunwa. While nominally a wide receiver, it seemed like the Jets were using Enunwa as a tight end. Many people have noted Enunwa possibly replacing Jeremy Kerley as the third receiver on the roster. It felt like he was just as much subbing for an injured Jace Amaro.
Todd Bowles made reference to it today.
Bowles on Enunwa as a hybrid WR/TE: He's kind of a tweener. It gives the opposition a problem. Kind of an interesting guy.— Eric Allen (@eallenjets) August 31, 2015
There are definitely instances in the NFL when a coach will not be candid about a player's role. In this case, Bowles word did match with the way the Jets used Enunwa.
Two weeks ago, I did my best to outline the two different tight end positions the Jets will use. Saturday night, we saw Enunwa working as an h-back.
On the first play of the night, the Jets got Enunwa on the move and got him the ball from the H spot for a 10 yard gain.
On the next drive, Enunwa actually throws a block that helps spring Chris Ivory for a gain of 12.
Enunwa proceeded to line up as an H at other points in the first half of Saturday's game.
What's the point of all of this? Like Bowles said, it is an attempt to create mismatches.
The first thing to acknowledge is that Enunwa is unlikely to make an impact as a conventional receiver this season. The Jets have a lot of talent at wide receiver. (How strange and awesome is it to hear that?) They are finding a way to use his skills.
The Jets want the other team to make a choice. Do they want to keep a linebacker on the field and potentially have a linebacker one on one in coverage with a guy who has wide receiver skills and is timed in the 4.4 range? Do they want to replace a linebacker with a defensive back? Then he might get swallowed by a 225 pound physical receiver who played in a run heavy offense in college and thus has a lot of experience blocking.
This makes me wonder whether there is a dimension people are missing when it comes to Jeremy Kerley's seemingly reduced role. Might the Jets be moving to more two tight end sets and working less with three receivers? Do they want more Enunwa and perhaps Amaro when Jace gets healthy?
For all of Kerley's fanfare, his production last year was pedestrian. It isn't crazy to think Enunwa or Amaro could duplicate his 38 catches, 409 yards, and 1 touchdown. It might not just be about the passing game, though. Amaro and Enunwa are bigger. They might not be great blockers, but they can help more in the run game than Kerley. This is particularly true if they can create the types of mismatches in the passing game that force a defense to replace a linebacker with a defensive back. (I know. I know. Kerley had a good PFF run blocking grade last year. Those don't always show context.)
This sounds great in theory. It might not work out. It depends on whether Enunwa can catch balls in traffic, utilize his athletic edge, run good routes, block effectively, and show the other skills requires. We all know measurables alone don't make a player effective. We would be talking about what a matchup problem Stephen Hill otherwise.
I just enjoy outside the box thinking like this. Whenever a coach isn't beholden to rigid position labels like, "This guy is a wide receiver. This guy is a tight end," I approve. Today's NFL doesn't work that way. It is about finding a way to use a player's skillset to create favorable matchups. The way Bowles did this with his defense in Arizona made me a fan. I like to see the same kind of thinking at work in New York.