With six weeks of Jets football in the record books, let’s take a quick peek at some of the current team statistical leaders.
Receiving Yards: Jermaine Kearse (299)
Sacks: David Bass (2.0)
Passes Defended: Kony Ealy (7)
Interceptions: Terrence Brooks (2)
Now, how many of these players were on the Jets’ roster when they left the field after their third preseason game? That answer is zero.
If there is one thing that Mike Maccagnan has done well since becoming GM of the Jets, that’s capitalize on his low-risk, unheralded pickups. When the Jets received a second round pick in exchange for Sheldon Richardson, most saw that as more than reasonable compensation, while Kearse was a mere throw-in. Today, Richardson has no sacks and fewer tackles than Muhammad Wilkerson. Kearse is having one of the most efficient seasons for a Jets receiver over the past decade. In addition to the four leaders shown above, Maccagnan also added Jeremy Kerley just before the start of the year, the team’s third-leading receiver. That’s a lot of production to be added to your roster off of other teams’ scrap heaps.
Now, this isn’t a particularly new development for Maccagnan. Two of the major reasons the Jets won ten games in 2015 were Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brandon Marshall. Maccagnan brought them in for the cost of just one sixth and one seventh round pick.
The team leader in receiving yards since the start of 2016, Robby Anderson, was an undrafted free agent pickup, in addition to current #1 fullback Lawrence Thomas (converted from defensive end.)
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, on pace for one of the best seasons by a Jets tight end in history, was claimed off of waivers mid-year in 2016. Same for Darryl Roberts, one of the most consistent corners on the team and a young player with upside.
All of this is great. It’s excellent when you can get production out of low-cost players who didn’t require much, if any, risk to acquire. However, what does it say about the rest of Maccagnan’s roster that players can come right in from out of nowhere and become standout performers? These kinds of moves are immediate supplements, but not stable solutions. They have the most profound impact when they are patching the small holes on an otherwise steady roster, not when they are bringing in the team’s best players.
Maccagnan has done a tremendous job patching holes with his under the radar moves. However, the fact that those moves have stood out so much highlights the real problem. The Jets need more homegrown talent and a firm core. So far, the returns are promising for the 2017 draft class, while the coaching staff has made a few intriguing strides here and there. That needs to continue if the Maccagnan-led Jets are to take another step. If Maccagnan can’t produce his own core from the ground up, his most proven ability as a GM will be for naught. He’s proven he can patch up a ship. Now he just needs to prove he can build one.