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The Junior Varsity Jets

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Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The current version of the 2016 New York Jets is filled with not ready for prime time players. The team has been hit by an avalanche of injuries, resulting in 17 players winding up on the injured reserve list.  Replacements for these players had to be procured.  The result is a roster littered with players who belong on practice squads. The Jets currently have 13 players on the 53 man roster who spent time on an NFL practice squad in 2016. Those players are listed in the following chart of profound and moving insight:

Name

Position

Brandin Bryant

DL

Donald Hawkins

OL

Randell Johnson

LB

Brandon Burks

RB

Ron Martin

S

Craig Watts

OL

Freddie Bishop

LB

Nick Marshall

CB

Doug Middleton

S

Brandon Wilds

RB

Dexter McDougle

CB

Anthony Johnson

DL

Eric Tomlinson

TE

In addition to the players listed in the above chart, several more Jets players were promoted from the Jets practice squad or signed off of other teams' practice squads, only to ultimately wind up on the injured reserve list. There are also several players on the current roster, like Darryl Roberts and Corey Lemonier, that were claimed off waivers after other teams cut them.  The Jets have been forced to make an enormous amount of in season transactions just to keep up with the mounting injuries, and have also churned the back end of the roster frequently in the ongoing search for fringe players with promise. The result has been more than 125 transactions since rosters were finalized in early September, an average of more than one transaction per day.  Another result is a current 53 man roster chock full of players who don't really belong on a 53 man NFL roster.

With the current roster filled with practice squad players, waiver wire pickups and other fringe talents, the Jets are reduced to trying to compete with good NFL teams with what amounts to the junior varsity Jets.  It is perhaps no surprise that as the season has worn on the team has become less and less competitive; the talent the team is fielding is subject to too many mismatches on a weekly basis for any team to remain competitive.  There is a popular saying "next man up" as a kind of shorthand for expressing the sentiment that injuries are an excuse and good teams overcome them.  That is perhaps overly simplistic.  Certainly good teams tend to have some backups that are ready to push the starters for playing time, so when certain starters go down the backups may present little if any diminution in play. However, when any team begins to rely on practice squad level players, "next man up" loses its validity.  Some teams have better depth than others, but at some point any team will reach a breaking point when too many of the team's better players are lost to injury.  The Jets reached that point several weeks ago, and the ensuing noncompetitive games are a direct result of doing so.