Before the Jets head into the Land to take on the Browns tomorrow night, let’s dive in to my weekly stack-up of the top ten performers on the team!
The weekly rankings are based on my perception of total positive impact on the team over the season to that point, discounting player reputation or past performance.
Previous rankings: Week 1, Week 2
And here, we, go.
10. Henry Anderson, DL (Debut)
Anderson has lived up to the hype he built throughout the preseason. He fully lives up to the classic “nonstop motor” scouting moniker to make himself a quality interior pass rusher. He’s got himself 2 quarterback hits, a sack, and a tackle for loss through two games despite playing only 48.5% of the snaps. He’s proving very much worth the 7th round selection the Jets gave up to acquire him.
9. Leonard Williams (Debut)
Williams had a strong second half in Detroit but flew a bit under the radar as he did not match the splash plays made by his teammates. However, he had another solid game against Miami, showing up with two tackles for loss and a wiped out half sack while living in the backfield all game.
Many fans are tired of Williams simply “winning matchups” or “living in the backfield” and not putting numbers in the box score, but he is a force at the line of scrimmage whose impact is felt most weeks. Perhaps he is not living up to the lofty expectations some may have had, but the man is a very good player if not a megastar, and that’s fine.
8. Brandon Shell, RT (Last week: 8th)
Shell took a step back along with the entire offensive line in Week 2, but he was the best player of the bunch against Miami. He did a relatively solid job against Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn. He did allow 3 pressures, but no hits, sacks, or deflections, and he still has not committed a penalty or allowed a stuff in the run game.
Quietly, Shell is becoming Mike Maccagnan’s best-developing late round draft pick. Here’s to hoping the praise I’ve heaped on him doesn’t lead to a Nania jinx!
7. Trumaine Johnson, CB (Debut)
I thought Johnson played well enough against Miami to cancel out his Week 1 struggles and get a spot on this list. Like me, you probably forgot he existed while watching this game, which is the best impact a corner can have.
On the whole, playing every defensive snap, I tagged Johnson as responsible for allowing only 30 yards and 2 first downs, while he did not commit a penalty over a multitude of tight downfield cover snaps. The two firsts were stoppable, but tough screen plays. Outside of those, he locked down the deep portion of the left side of the field throughout the entire game, allowing nothing over 3 yards through the air. Oftentimes, Ryan Tannehill didn’t even look to his side, and when he did, Johnson’s coverage always forced him to move to the next read and even resulted in a couple of coverage sacks. Nice game.
6. Bilal Powell, RB (Debut)
Powell’s efficient Week 1 rang quietly under the dominant magnitude of his backfield-mate’s performance, but he has now strung together back-to-back quality games.
In Detroit, Powell collected 60 rushing yards and 3 first downs on 12 carries (An efficient 5.0 YPC), but only caught one pass for 5 yards. He showcased his trademark versatility against Miami, as with the run game shut down, he became a go-to target for Sam Darnold, catching 5 of 6 targets for 74 yards and the team’s lone touchdown.
Powell is carving out a very long, respectable, and productive Jets career in a mostly forgettable era.
5. Isaiah Crowell, RB (Last week: 2nd)
Crowell didn’t get much help from his offensive line against the Dolphins, as he ran for only 35 yards 12 carries (2.9 YPC). His 2 catches went for only 4 yards.
In a game where the rushing attack wasn’t there, the Jets showed exactly they are running this offense with a dead even snap share between two backs. Bilal Powell was the guy coming through in the pass game when that was the only phase operating sufficiently. Crowell certainly has impressed so far, and I would even say he gained more rushing yards than were blocked for him against Miami. But this is a shared backfield, just as we expected. And it looks like a very solid one.
4. Darron Lee, LB (Last week: 1st)
Lee didn’t make the highlight plays to maintain the throne, but he also didn’t make the egregious coverage errors to keep him out of the top five. I tracked him for allowing only 5 yards and 1 first down on 3 targets, continuing his hot start in the pass game. Pro Football Focus agrees, as they currently have him graded as the best cover linebacker in the NFL.
There are some lingering issues in the run game, though. Lee has struggled in the run game as well over his career, and some of those issues still lingered. Even last year, he still averaged 1.4 run stops (<2 yards, no first down) per game, with a total of 21 over the year. So far, he has only 1 of those through 2 games.
Lee saw himself wiped out at the second level a few times this past Sunday, including when he was washed away by left tackle Laremy Tunsil on Kenyan Drake’s touchdown run. He can still improve there, but his early hot start in coverage is a positive sign.
3. Sam Darnold, QB (Last week: 5th)
Sam is quickly ascending to the obviously weekly king of this list, much faster than I expected. He once again showed his ability to bounce back, nearly leading the Jets on a 20-point comeback in the second half. After throwing only 21 passes in Detroit and thriving off of extremely favorable field position, Darnold proved he could be efficient carrying the offensive load with unfavorable field position and supporting cast performance. He collected 334 yards on 41 passes for an 8.1 yards per attempt average despite multiple huge drops from his teammates. Darnold is the youngest quarterback to ever throw for 300 yards, and one of only 3 quarterbacks, along with Jim Kelly and Cam Newton, to throw for 8+ yards per attempt on 40+ attempts in each of his first two weeks in the league.
It goes without saying that there is still plenty for Darnold to work on. He made plenty of mistakes in this game. The first interception was poor as he missed the dropping defender. He failed to find a wide open Quincy Enunwa in the end zone. He didn’t see or decided not to throw to a wide open Robby Anderson down the sideline on one third quarter play. He nearly threw a very bad interception that was broken up by Anderson.
Those mistakes are the primary focus of this season. We all knew they would come, and Darnold is quickly making and learning from all the errors in the book. He is proving that starting him from the jump was absolutely the right move. He is experiencing these situations for the first time right now instead of in November or 2019. Most impressively, even as he gets those blunders out of his system and makes his first acclimation to professional football, he is still playing at a legitimately efficient level - not just for a rookie. He’s already a solid starter - and has shown the flashes that make you believe he can go much, much higher once the mental reps start to accumulate.
2. Jamal Adams, S (Last week: 3rd)
Adams has had quite the start. He has put all of his tools on display so far, making plays in man coverage, zone coverage, against the run, and rushing the passer. The instincts, IQ, and athleticism have always been there for him, and we saw them all from him last season. He just had fundamental issues to clean up - playing the ball in coverage and becoming more consistent as a tackler.
With the number of mistakes decreased greatly in both areas so far, Adams has been all over the place making plays. His early sack of Ryan Tannehill set an early tone for the pressure to come. Adams was again solid in coverage, allowing only 2 yards on 2 targets. Impressive first couple of weeks.
David Njoku will be a great test, and vice versa, Adams will be a great test for Njoku. Adams had a rough game against Njoku last year, allowing 3 catches on 3 targets for 48 yards and a touchdown. That touchdown was the first allowed by Adams, and set the tone for a streak where he would allow 4 of his 5 touchdowns on the year in a three-week span. For Njoku, he had more success against Adams in that game than he has had so far this season, as he only has 33 receiving yards on 14 targets. Both of these young first-round picks will have their work cut out for them. For Adams, getting redemption on Njoku would be a great way to prove his progression is real.
1. Quincy Enunwa, WR (Last week: 4th)
Those in the national media who slept on the Jets’ skill position group or offense in general obviously never watched enough of Quincy Enunwa. He was outstanding in 2016, producing plays on his own he had no business making with the level of performance his quarterbacks put out.
Everything he showed in 2016 has been on display in full force and full health, now complimented by a quarterback whose strengths match Enunwa’s perfectly. Darnold certainly needs to get Robby Anderson and others involved more, but Enunwa has fully deserved to be targeted as much as he has. He’s been a playmaking machine for back-to-back weeks now.
After putting up 6 receptions for 63 yards and 4 first downs (1 TD) against Detroit, Enunwa put up 7 catches for 92 yards and 6 first downs against Miami. He continuously makes plus plays, taking screen passes from behind the line to past the sticks, making incredibly athletic plays to grab slightly errant Darnold balls both high and low, beating defenders out of the slot to create easy open throws, and carving out YAC every which way he can. Not to mention, I’ve tallied him for a pair of first down assists as a blocker in the run game, more than all other wide receivers combined.
Dropped off list:
Spencer Long - Long was the player I debated the most. While he has stayed very clean in pass protection (I have not tagged him for a sack, hit, or pressure, but one deflection) across both games, he was a big part of the team’s struggles in the run game against Miami. Ultimately, I made the decision to leave him off. With better play in the run game, he could string together long enough clean streaks in protection to make the list.
Brian Winters - Winters saw a steep drop-off in Week 2 like the rest of his teammates on the offensive front.
Morris Claiborne: Very rocky second week for Claiborne in which his struggles were fortunately mitigated by offensive miscues.
Andre Roberts: A punt returner can only last so long as a top ten player.
Knocking on the door:
Steve McLendon - I’m a huge McLendon fan. There are so many occasions when he creates plays that others get credit for. I think when the dust settles and other players can’t make the splash plays to keep up with their current pace, McLendon’s impact will shine brighter and he’ll end up on the list.
Brandon Copeland - Copeland made some noise against the Fins, racking up 2 quarterback hits, a sack, and a tackle for loss.
Will they return?:
Avery Williamson - I’m a little bit disappointed in him so far. He has yet to record a stuff in the run game in spite of his tremendous reputation in that phase. I’m confident he’ll bounce back. He has been too good in that one specific area for that skill to simply disappear.
Robby Anderson - It’s been a quiet start for Anderson, as we feared with the deep ball not looking like one of Darnold’s greatest strengths. Darnold has been a little bit hesitant to look for Robby down the sideline, but he has been open a few times without seeing the ball. We shall see if Darnold and Anderson can get a rapport going. Anderson does need to avoid mistakes like the fumble he had against Miami, very similar to a fumble he had against New England in 2016. I will throw in that Anderson has quietly racked up 3 total blocking assists by my tally, tying him with Eric Tomlinson for the lead among skill position players.
Which player not in the top 10 is most likely to make it in first?
This poll is closed