Today I continue unveiling my 21st Century Jets Wine Cellar Team. The focus now turns to wide receivers.
As a brief refresher, this is not a list of the best Jets players. I am trying to build an actual 53 man roster that fills all relevant roles and could win a game.
I am filling the roster with a player from one specific season of his career, the way wines have vintages.
Finally, I am only considering seasons in the 21st century. The running backs segment got criticism for lacking Freeman McNeil. Please don’t tell me how outraged you are that Don Maynard and Al Toon are lacking from this team.
Now let’s begin.
Brandon Marshall, 2015
Marshall’s presence shows one way this project differs from an all-decade or an all-century. Brandon Marshall wasn’t great long enough to be remembered as an all-time Jets great. However, his 2015 season was the most dominant single season performance I have ever seen from a Jets receiver. He was uncoverable.
To this day I still can’t get over the numbers. 109 catches, 1,502 yards, and 14 touchdowns was Marshall’s statistical production. Jets receivers are allowed to produce like this. And amazingly I think the numbers might even slightly undersell how big of an impact he made. Marshall was the last player the Jets had who forced the other team to alter its approach.
Including him as the number one receiver on this team is a no brainer.
Laveranues Coles, 2002
A couple of days ago I named the 2002 vintage of Chad Pennington as the team’s starting quarterback. How could I not include his favorite target then?
Coles broke out in 2002, which was his third season. He posted an 89/1,264/5 stat line and developed tremendous chemistry with Pennington.
Lavernaues might have been undersized, but he could do a little bit of everything. He could threaten the defense at all three levels. He could find the soft spot in coverage. He was willing to sacrifice his body to make the tough catches.
When your first year starting quarterback develops such great chemistry with a 25 year old number one receiver, what do you do? If you’re Terry Bradway, you let him leave in free agency that offseason. If you’re me, you give him a starting role on the 21st Century Jets Wine Cellar Team.
Eric Decker, 2015
Decker was Marshall’s sidekick in 2015, and the two of them terrorized defensive backfields across the league.
Decker’s line was 80/1,027/12 and did a lot of his damage from the slot taking advantage of mismatches. That’s primarily where he will line up for this team, although we will shift Coles inside at times and let Decker use his size and speed to get deep on the outside.
Santana Moss, 2003
When I look for a number four receiver, there are certain things I’d like an an ideal world. I’d like him to bring skills to the table I don’t have in my top three. I’d also like him to help out on special teams.
In Moss I get both. The top three receivers on this team aren’t slot. In fact a young Coles was very fast. Decker also has good speed. Moss just has an extra gear, though. He’s a homerun threat on every play, and that speed translates as a dynamic punt returner.
2003 was Moss’ best season with the Jets. He eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the first and only time in the years he wore green and white. I love the player. I love the fit.
Wayne Chrebet, 2000
I’ll admit I might just be biased, but how can you have a substantial Jets team without Chrebet? Maybe he’s not going to bring everything to the table you want from a fifth receiver, but I’m going to feel really good about having him in clutch spots if there are injuries at the top of the lineup.
The 2000 version of Chrebet had to take on more responsibility after Keyshawn Johnson was traded to Tampa Bay. He responded with the third most catches and second most yards and touchdowns of his career. He also had multiple game-winning catches late in the fourth quarter of victories. The most notable one game in the “Flashlight Game” victory over Keyshawn’s Bucs.
I’m going with my heart over my head here. Chrebet was the heart and soul of any Jets team he was on. I stand by this pick.
Brad Smith, 2010
We are down to our sixth receiver. There is plenty of pass catching talent in the group so now I’m thinking about finding a player who can add other elements. Insert Smith.
A college quarterback, he will help us out on gadget plays as a passing threat from the receiver position. He also has the versatility to play running back or Wildcat quarterback. This was the year he ran for 299 yards on 38 attempts.
While our team has plenty of top notch return men already, Smith provides us with another option. He is also an elite special teams coverage guy. This was a year he posted 14 tackles.
Additionally, he won’t have an issue taking a smaller role and not getting a heavy share of targets in the passing game. That’s what you want in a sixth receiver.
To me there were three players who had to be on the team. Marshall, Coles, and Decker were nonnegotiables. If you didn’t have them, you are just wrong. Sorry.
The last three spots had six contenders. There were the three I chose, Moss, Chrebet, and Smith. You also had 2007 Jerricho Cotchery along with the 2010 versions of Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes.
It really depends on what you value. I explained my rationales for choosing the players I chose. If you value different things and wanted to take some combination of Cotchery, Edwards, and/or Holmes I don’t think I could really argue with you.