Now that Gang Green Nation has chosen the All Time Jets Team, which is listed below, I’ll offer some random thoughts as to the team and what I might have done differently.
Jets Fans Are Impressive With Their Knowledge Of Team History
I was pleasantly surprised by how many of the old timers made it onto the team. Most of the voters probably never saw many of these guys play, but you nonetheless knew who they were and how important they were to Jets history. Guys like Larry Grantham, Art Powell, Randy Rasmussen, Johnny Sample, Dave Herman, John Elliott - it was great to see how many of the very deserving old timers made the team. I applaud you all for the depth of your Jets knowledge.
Things I Might Have Done Differently
There are no right or wrong answers here, just varying opinions. I’ll offer mine where they differed from the GGN voters. I won’t quibble about where a guy was selected. First, third, fifth guy picked, doesn’t matter to me. Either a guy made the team or he didn’t. Here’s the guys I would not have selected, and the guys I would have replaced them with.
Abdul Salaam and Damon Harrison were good players for the Jets, but they were not the kind of high impact players that should have made this team. Salaam I think benefited in the voting from being a part of the famed Sack Exchange. That was an awesome line, but Salaam was by far the least impactful member. He was a run stuffing space eater. A useful player, but never a star, and he really only had about three good years with the Jets, from 1980 through 1982. Damon Harrison was a similar story; run stuffing space eater who had three good, but never great, years with the Jets. Both of these guys were one dimensional players. Both were good, but never great with the Jets.
The guys I think should replace them on the team: Verlon Biggs and Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson in his first five years with the Jets was a high impact player who made one Pro Bowl in 2015 and should have made another in 2013. Through his first five years Wilkerson’s name was being mentioned among the greatest interior lineman in the game. He was an every down player who played well against both the run and the pass, and in my opinion his impact on the Jets was much greater than either Salaam or Harrison. His legacy was tarnished by how his play fell off a cliff after his fifth year, but I don’t see how that can eliminate the five great years he had with the Jets. Wilkerson makes my team.
The same can be said for Verlon Biggs. Biggs was a monstrous player in his time, the biggest player on the entire 1968 Jets team. He was a three time All AFL selection, an impact player against the run and in the pass rush, and a Super Bowl champion. Biggs gets my vote over Salaam and Harrison.
At running back, John Riggins gets my vote over Matt Snell. Snell was a good back but never a great back. Riggins, on the other hand, was a great back. He may well have been the most talented back ever to play for the Jets in his prime, and that’s saying something. Riggins was a near perfect blend of size, speed, strength and balance. He could run through you, over you and around you. In my opinion Riggins’ 1971, 1972 and 1975 seasons were all better than any season Snell ever put up, and Riggins was a more dangerous and talented back. I understand that Snell had more Pro Bowls and was a Super Bowl champion, and I understand how the vote went the other way. But for my money, having seen them both play, I’m taking Riggins over Snell, and it isn’t a very close call.
That’s about it, the sum total of my differences with the GGN faithful. Overall I am very, very impressed at how knowledgeable the voters were on Jets history. Kudos all around to the voters.
Working with the team as voted, not as I would have voted, here are the guys I would have playing major minutes. There will be more than 11 guys on each side of the ball, because of the rotational nature of how the game is played. I’ll just list the guys who are playing major roles for the team.
At quarterback there is just one choice: Joe Willie Namath. He’s my Hall of Famer, and he’s my starter, no doubt about it.
My two backs taking major roles are Freeman McNeil and Curtis Martin, in that order. Freeman gets 60% of the snaps, Curtis gets 40%. I know I’m in the minority here, but for me, Freeman was just flat out the better, more talented back when healthy. I’m assuming good health for every player on the team, so Freeman gets the majority of the work at running back.
At wide receiver, the three guys who get major roles are Don Maynard, Wesley Walker and Al Toon. Toon gets to play the modern day big slot position.
At tight end, Mickey Shuler is my traditional tight end, and Rich Caster is my so called receiving tight end. When we play two tight end sets, I’m pretty happy with what we’ve got here.
On the offensive line, just five guys get all the snaps. At tackle it’s Marvin Powell and Winston Hill; a Hall of Famer and a guy who should be a Hall of Famer. At center it’s another Hall of Famer, Kevin Mawae. Future Hall of Famer Nick Mangold gets moved to guard and dominates there. The other guard is the rock solid Randy Rasmussen.
At safety, Jamal Adams dominates all over the field, and Kerry Rhodes is my ball hawking free safety.
At cornerback, Darrelle Revis strands receivers on the island, James Hasty mans the other side, and Aaron Glenn is moved into the slot. It’s gonna be difficult to pass against this secondary.
At linebacker, David Harris and Larry Grantham patrol the middle of the field, with Marvin Jones rotating in.
On the edge, Mark Gastineau and Gerry Philbin terrorize opposing quarterbacks, with Mo Lewis rotating in.
Finally, at interior defensive line, Joe Klecko and John Elliott get the lion’s share of the work, with Marty Lyons rotating in.
Strengths And Weaknesses
The strengths of this team are at offensive line, interior defensive line, edge defenders, running back and wide receiver. This team should be able to match up well with most other all time teams at those positions. The offensive line in particular is littered with Hall of Fame talent and should dominate. The pass rush would be a handful against just about any other team’s offensive line. The Jets basically crush it in the trenches.
The weaknesses are the coaching staff, quarterback, tight end, linebacker, and the kicking specialists. Not that these are bad players and coaches, but for an all time team, this team would struggle in their matchups at these positions. Weeb was great, but Walton and Michaels as coordinators don’t really measure up to the greats around the league. The same can be said for Namath. In any given single game, Namath was capable of going toe to toe with any quarterback who ever lived and coming out on top. But he was also far too likely to completely blow up the team’s chances with a turnover-fest, and that makes him a liability when measured against the game’s all time greats at quarterback. The linebackers, well, they just aren’t all that impressive are they? Grantham was a standout, but the rest of the bunch fall into the good, not great category. Same goes for the tight ends. I love Shuler and Caster, but measured on the all time scale they fall a bit short. The kicking specialists - the less said the better.
The Super Bowl And The Sack Exchange
Not surprisingly the team is dominated by guys from the 1960s Jets and the 1980s Jets, the best eras in Jets history.
Of the 55 players, 12 played for the 1968 Super Bowl Champion Jets and 14 played for the 1980s Jets playoff teams. The brief success of the Rex Ryan era produced just six players. The current team? Just one player: Jamal Adams
The Present Weakness
The GGN All Time Jets Roster has just one current Jet on it: Jamal Adams. Looking over the current roster, there aren’t all that many players who are likely to eventually join Adams.
On defense, Marcus Maye has an outside chance, if he earns a second contract and can stay healthy. C.J. Mosley at linebacker has the talent, but might not stay long enough. On the defensive line Quinnen Williams is probably the only guy with any shot at all, and the competition is so tough that his chances aren’t good.
On offense, Sam Darnold has a shot, if only because the competition isn’t great. The same can be said of Chris Herndon. Mekhi Becton has a ton of raw talent, but the competition at offensive tackle is fierce and Becton has yet to play a down in the NFL, so he has to be considered a long shot. Perhaps Denzel Mims might have a shot if everything goes right, but again, he has yet to play a down in the NFL.
The lack of guys on the current Jets team who are anything better than long shots to eventually make the All Time Jets Roster really illustrates just how far away the Jets are from building a Super Bowl contender. The Jets have one Super Bowl champion in their history, and that team fielded 12 All Time Jets. The best prolonged stretch of success in Jets history in the 1980s didn’t produce a single Super Bowl berth, and those teams fielded 14 All Time Jets. The current Jets team is very unlikely to produce even as many as five All Time Jets, and it’s quite possible it ends up being just one, Jamal Adams. That in a nutshell captures the bleak state of the Jets current roster. Perhaps with a few more Joe Douglas offseasons that can change dramatically to the upside.
That about wraps up my thoughts on the GGN All Time Jets Team. Thanks to all of you for putting the team together and much respect for the depth of your Jets knowledge.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE