Former Jets LB and current SNY Jets contributor Chad Cascadden gives his midseason grades.
Tune in to the Jets Nation Midseason report tonight at 6:30 on SNY!
Offense Overall: (C)
Josh McCown has been a pleasant yet inconsistent surprise. He is more efficient than expected with a top 5 completion percentage (69 percent) but has been sacked the 2nd-most with 32. His elusiveness in the pocket has been a positive and his leadership skills are evident.
Offensive Line: (C-)
The Jekyll and Hyde of this team. One week they're amazing (2nd game against the Bills) and then they're clueless (against the Bucs). This should be no surprise after they failed to fully address this position during the offseason. While I give the O-line coach, Steve Marshall, kudos for working with a bunch of changing parts, the success of the entire team weighs heavily/unfairly on this unit.
Tight Ends: (B+)
The emergence of Austin Seferian-Jenkins was a surprise to many but not to insiders. His offseason recommittment to the game has allowed him to be a steady presence at TE all season, not only catching a team-high 39 receptions but also as a force in the running game -- providing serious blocking ability on the edge that was sorely lacking the last few seasons.
Wide Receivers: (B)
The trade for Jermaine Kearse was a surprise as was his fluid transition into the offense and quick chemistry with McCown (35 receptions). But the real highlight has been the emergence of Robby Anderson (35 receptions) as not only a reliable set of hands but a constant deep threat with a top 5 midseason finish for touchdowns (5).
Running Backs: (C)
No doubt running back by committee. Both Bilal Powell and Matt Forte have had their days to shine but just as quickly as they show up, they disappear. While that may be a function of game-planning, it has more to do with the production of the offensive line, which has had its ups and downs this year. McGuire has been a pleasant surprise as a 6th round pick, providing solid carries/catches when called upon.
Defense overall: (B-)
Defensive Line: (C-)
Easily the most under-performing unit this year. Considered a top 5 defensive line by many experts, they have failed to get to the quarterback consistently the first part of the year with a league low 7 sacks through 10 games. While the recent improved play by Muhammad Wilkerson has been encouraging, this unit as a whole is still under-performing and will be looked upon as a major disappointment if they don't increase their sack/pressure total immediately.
Considered by some as the weak link of the defense going into this season, they have outperformed expectations. Demario Davis after being moved to mike backer has been terrific both in run-support (82 tackles) and with pressure on the quarterback -- with a team-leading 3.5 sacks. His leadership in the huddle does not go unnoticed. Darron Lee's sophomore season has seen him continue to develop as a will LB being paired against running backs/tight ends in the passing game and also being a force in the run-support game (67 tackles) . Some questioned his size/speed, but he continues to show he's holding his worth. Jordan Jenkins at sam backer has been the strong/silent presence the Jets have been looking for since the retirement of Mo Lewis. And while Josh Martin gets little publicity, he has done an admirable job as the opposite bookend to Jenkins.
Defensive Backs: (B+)
The biggest risk/reward taken on this team during the offseason and it has paid off in spades. Rookie Jamal Adams has been nothing short of spectacular as he leads all DBs with 48 tackles and is a vocal/physical leader in the huddle. Not to be outdone, second round pick and fellow rookie Marcus Maye is one tackle behind Adams with 47 and has been a perfect complement in coverage with the corners. When healthy, Morris Claiborne is considered one of the best cover corners in the league and he proved that through the first 8 games, shutting down the opponents' No. 1 receivers throughout the season. His recovery from injury will be a huge welcome to the backfield. Buster Skrine as a No. 2 corner and slot corner on nickel/dime has put him in tough positions, and it's evident when the defense is on the field too much as he gets called for too many penalties. That said, he has performed admirably at times and will surprise you once in a while. Darryl Roberts has been a quiet force coming in as a part-time starter and nickel/dime cover corner with 34 tackles to his credit and few big plays scored against. Juston Burris is still a development project but has shown solid cover skills with a coveted speed/size ratio not often found in the NFL.
Special teams: (C)
Punter (B): Lac Edwards is performing as advertised, being top 10 in net punting average and top 3 inside the 20 yrd line.
Place kicker (C): Chandler Catanzaro hasn't missed an extra point this year, but his 16/20 (80 percent) FG percentage leaves lots to be desired. His two misses cost the Jets a win against the Falcons.
Cover/Blocking units (C) have been solid but not spectacular, with returners averaging in the lower half of the league. With a chance to impact a game with sudden plays, this unit has failed to deliver thus far.
With the majority of the fan base questioning whether or not Todd Bowles is up to the challenge of being a head coach, he has shown that a steady hand can calm rough waters. With nine new assistant coaches and a roster full of new faces, Coach Bowles has masterfully brought this team together and is leading them in the correct direction. The questionable time clock management issues that plagued him the first two years have seemed to be corrected for now and it's clear that the locker room is a more focused and less fractioned place to work. Getting all different types of personalities to work together is no easy feat, and he has done a terrific job so far.