The Jets have caught fire over the past couple of weeks, and when the team is playing well it becomes increasingly difficult to decide on who the most positively impactful players on the roster have been. Nevertheless, we take a shot at it here on the weekly power rankings! Who have the top ten best Jets been on the year?
10. Kelvin Beachum, LT (Debut)
Sam Darnold’s blindside protector makes his season debut in a bit of a shocker to kick off the list!
As discussed by John B on a recent Locked on Jets podcast, Beachum is not a long-term answer for the Jets, and the team should look to move on from this offseason. He’s a stopgap talent going on 30 in his second year with the team, and the Jets need to look for a long-term answer at the position with elite potential.
With all of that said, Beachum has kept impressively quiet at a very important position, one of which can destroy an offense if your team has a hole there. I have Beachum tagged for only 2 sacks, 2 hits, and 8 pressures on the year - that total of 12 pressures culminates in a 6.2% pressure-to-pass snap ratio, very strong for a left tackle. I also think Beachum has looked very comfortable in the Jets’ running scheme, as he’s done a very nice job getting out on the move and executing his assignments.
The Jets offensive line has gotten a lot of attention this season for the wrong reasons, but Beachum’s name is not one that has been at the forefront of those criticisms.
9. Quincy Enunwa, WR (Last week: 4th)
Enunwa left the Colts game due to injury after making only one 9-yard reception. After averaging 69.5 yards and 4.0 first downs over his first four games, Enunwa has a total of 9 yards and 1 catch on 6 targets over the last two weeks, with more lost fumbles than first downs.
Injuries were clearly catching up to him, as his usual blocking aggressiveness also seemed to dwindle. It looks like the Jets will be without him for a few weeks, so the pressure is on for Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, and Terrelle Pryor (who also might miss the Vikings game) to step it up. The Jets’ depth at wide receiver has finally shone over the past couple of weeks, and that needs to continue.
8. Darron Lee, LB (Last appearance: Week 5 (4th)
I received some flak from the loyal followers of the rankings for Lee’s drop from 4th to off the list last week after a not-too-bad game, and that was fair. In hindsight, it feels like I was a bit harsh to drop Lee off the list from that high of a spot. He did plenty enough to put himself back on the map with a huge interception late in the game to bury the Colts, his third pick of the season.
Lee continues to look like a whole new player in coverage, and his work in that facet has been a major asset for the Jets defense. His run defense still needs to catch up, but Lee has helped the Jets more than he has hurt them this year without a doubt.
7. Leonard Williams, DL (Last week: 6th)
I won’t have the Leo box score bashing! I just won’t have it!
Williams posted another stat line filled with zeros, and also had a neutral zone infraction penalty, but he still made his impact felt in other ways. He forced an intentional grounding penalty with an instant pressure, and pummeled Andrew Luck off of a stunt to force an incompletion on a 4th down late in the game. Overall, he had 3 quarterback hits.
I’ll admit it is frustrating when you have to scavenge to find a supposed star player’s impact, but I still think Williams has continued to help this team as much as any other player. It’s fair to expect more, though. He drops a spot this week.
6. Avery Williamson, ILB (Last week: 7th)
Williamson continues to make big plays and play great run defense. He’s strong and consistent in filling his gap assignment and funneling plays into traffic, and has begun to produce more stuffs himself.
In coverage, Williamson did allow a couple of first downs, as he let a receiver sit down right behind his zone and he was victimized by Eric Ebron man-to-man on a great throw from Luck. However, he made up for those with a bunch of big plays. Williamson ripped two passes straight from the receiver’s grasp, including a play on a 3rd & goal in which he forced the ball out Nyheim Hines’ chest in the end zone to force a field goal. He also came up with an interception and big return off of a Morris Claiborne tip.
Williamson has been as-advertised. He’s a tough linebacker who makes big plays in key spots, while he has held up solidly in coverage.
5. Sam Darnold, QB (Last week: 9th)
Darnold makes a big climb into the top five.
For the first time, you could say the Jets won a game because of Darnold’s play. Against Detroit and Denver, Darnold was a very important contributing factor in those victories, and he did play very well, but there were other reasons that played larger roles in those wins. In Detroit, it was the turnovers and special teams, while against Denver, it was the run game.
That was not the case against the Colts. The Jets defense got takeaways, yes, but they could never put the final stamp on Luck’s offense, as he continued to answer and keep Indianapolis in the game. Darnold had to keep answering. The run game was also not particularly strong this week.
Darnold was extremely accurate throughout the game and clutch on 3rd downs and in key situations. While you certainly want to see the Jets finish with more touchdowns in opponent territory, Darnold led the Jets to 10 scores, tying a franchise record, and set a new team record when he led the Jets to scores on 8 straight possessions.
The Jets will need more of the same against a Vikings team that is poised to put up big numbers on the Jets’ depleted defense.
4. Bilal Powell, RB (Last week: 2nd)
Powell’s rushing numbers against the Colts didn’t pop, as he gained 59 yards on 16 carries for a pedestrian 3.6 yards per carry.
However, Powell actually collected 4 first downs on the ground in this game, a season high. He also drew a first down on a facemask penalty and had a screen reception for a first down in the red zone wiped out by a penalty.
Powell maintains a career high average of 71.3 scrimmage yards per game. He’s also averaging 4.3 yards per carry, his 5th consecutive season above 4.2 (approximate league average). That’s the longest active streak among running backs.
3. Isaiah Crowell, RB (Last week: 3rd)
As expected, Crowell did not live up to his monumental performance against the Broncos, but I thought he quietly played a good game. He picked up only 40 yards on 13 carries (3.1 per attempt) - 21 of those on one run - but I thought he was gaining a lot more yardage than was blocked for him, especially on the edge where he showed impressive burst a few times.
I also credited Crowell with 3 pass protection reps and no pressure allowed. He added a couple of receptions for 5 and 7 yards which both helped shorten field goal distance for Jason Myers. Quietly decent outing.
Like Powell, Crowell is averaging a career high 79.6 scrimmage yards per game. He is currently 8th in the league in rushing and 3rd in yards per carry among qualifiers.
2. Morris Claiborne, CB (Last week: 8th)
Claiborne makes the quantum leap from 5th to 2nd after a game in which he scored a touchdown, caused an interception on a pass deflection, and allowed only 67 yards on 10 passes in his direction.
It’s been a tremendous start for Claiborne. He is tied for the NFL lead with 9 total passes defended and has also shined as a run defender, tied for the lead among cornerbacks with 5 run stuffs (2 yards or less, no first down). By my charting, he has only allowed a 44% completion percentage and 5.2 yards per attempt on passes in his direction, with only 28% of those targets resulting in first downs.
On the downside, I charged Claiborne with his first touchdown of the year, as he got overagressive in his deep zone and failed to pick up a route passed off to him by Parry Nickerson.
In addition, make no mistake about it - Claiborne has had some luck. He was bailed out by Andrew Luck on a deep overthrow in which Claiborne had allowed quite a bit of separation, and he was also toasted and bailed out by an overthrow against Miami.
Though to varying degrees, all corners benefit from luck. Claiborne is not the only cornerback in the NFL who has been bailed out by an overthrow. No quarterback will complete every open downfield throw that is presented to them, and every receiver drops a pass now and then. You can’t help but be enthused with the body of work Claiborne has given the Jets through 6 games.
With three secondary starters out and arguably the league’s best receiving duo coming to New Jersey, they need him to keep it up more than ever.
1. Jamal Adams, S (Last week: 1st)
Adams had a rough game in coverage, as on the first Colts scoring drive of the game he yielded back-to-back big first downs in man coverage to tight ends Mo Alie-Cox and Eric Ebron. Those two catches combined for more yardage than I charged Adams with over the first 5 weeks of the year. He also had one notable mistake in run defense where he bit hard on a play fake and the Colts picked up a 20+ yard gain running at the spot he lined up.
Star players avoid games where they let mistakes snowball and they become a liability. They find ways to contribute even when it isn’t their best day, or a few plays don’t go their way. That’s what Adams did against the Colts. In spite of those mistakes, Adams caused a pick six with a heads-up reaction to a dropped screen pass and forced a fumble on a pummeling hit off the edge on Robert Turbin. He also broke up a pass on the Colts’ final drive of the game that helped elapse more time and seal the victory.
Dropped off list:
Henry Anderson, DL (was 10th)
Steve McLendon, DT (was 8th): McLendon and Anderson teamed up for a huge red zone stuff on 1st & goal from the 1. Their dropping off the list is no slight - both are playing solidly.
Knocking on the door:
Brandon Shell, RT: Shell is right there with Beachum. He can easily return to the list if he continues the consistency he has shown over the last couple of games.
Robby Anderson, WR & Jermaine Kearse, WR: With Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor hurting, the door is open for these two to start hitting their groove just as they did in the middle portion of 2017. Anderson carried the Jets against the Broncos, and Kearse did against the Colts. Can they put it together this Sunday in a game that could very well be a shootout?
Here’s a look at the season progression of the list.
Which player currently on the list is ranked too high / shouldn’t be on?
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