Discover more from The Jets Way
Last year when the Jets were on a bye I was glad for the break, it was a Sunday when I could enjoy some time with the family without the looming threat of a Jets loss. This year I was a little lost, winning is addictive and the Jets have done a lot of winning recently.
The Browns weren’t able to lend the Jets a hand but the Vikings sure did. After Buffalo had a 99% chance of winning late in the 4th quarter, the Bills took them to overtime and then forced a red-zone interception from Josh Allen. That drops the Bills to 6-3 (same as the Jets) and due to a tiebreaker in the division, the Jets are now 2nd. A win over the Patriots on Sunday would vault the Jets to the top as the Dolphins are on their bye week and the Jets hold the tiebreaker over them.
I’m going to bypass the quick throws today because it’s a touch quiet in Jets land, which is to be expected considering the players have been taking a break.
We’re going to keep it short and sweet today before building up to the Patriots game at the weekend. Today we’re going to focus on Jeremy Ruckert.
The Jet’s rookie class is a big reason for the 6-3 record, without Breece, without Sauce, and without Garrett, the Jets wouldn’t be where they are. They’ve also received contributions from Jermaine Johnson who has 3 sacks to his name, as well as being one of their outstanding run defenders. Max Mitchell was the starting RT and was done a fine job before suffering an injury and Micheal Clemons continues to be a big part of the defensive line rotation.
There is always one exception to the rule and for the 2022 Jets rookie class, that exception is Jeremy Ruckert, the 3rd round tight end out of Ohio State. With the Jets signing both Tyler Conklin and CJ Uzomah in the off-season, it was somewhat of a surprise to see them dip back into the tight-end market during the draft.
After suffering a foot injury at the senior bowl in February, Ruckert was unable to take part as a full participant in practice until early August. He can obviously get into the playbook but not being able to literally run through the plays will impact his development, and that’s exactly what we’ve seen through the first 9 games of the season.
So far Ruckert has played just 73 snaps with the majority of those coming on special teams, he’s received just a single target and that was a drop against Cleveland. That week two game was also the last game we saw Ruckert used as a traditional inline tight end since week 2 he’s had just 7 snaps across the offensive formation, and he’s also found himself a healthy scratch in three of the last 4 games.
There’s no need to panic, even if Kenny Yeboah has been preferred at times this season, but it would be foolish to not wonder where and when Ruckert will get an opportunity.
The Jets are using 12 personnel on just 20% of all snaps this year, which is below the league average of 21%, although that’s slightly inflated because Miami runs from 12 personnel on 61% of snaps, no other team is above 30%. Over the last three weeks, the Jet’s number drops to 17%, so instead of it becoming a more popular formation for New York, we’re actually going away from it.
If you consider that we have Conklin and Uzomah as our two feature tight ends, then there’s little wonder that Ruckert is seeing his snap opportunities limited. As long as they’re both healthy I can’t see Ruckert getting many opportunities down the stretch, instead he’ll need to be patient and work his way up the depth chart through the off-season, but that’s not going to be easy.
Looking at the contracts, Uzomah is absolutely going to be here next year as the Jets would need to eat $11.6 million if they wanted to cut him to make room for Ruckert. Uzomah is an outstanding teammate by all accounts and while his on-field contributions don’t quite make up for the salary he’s being played, you can’t underestimate how important these positive locker room guys are, especially for a young team who started the year searching for an identity.
Conklin has been the standout tight end so far this season for the Jets and he’s become a vital target for Wilson. Conklin is 8th across the league for tight ends in terms of targets (48), and he’s tied for 10th in receptions with (33). His 315 yards are tied for 11th and his 3 touchdowns are tied for 5th. Basically, the Jets have a top-10 tight-end in Conklin who’s signed through the 2024 season at a reasonable cost, and while the Jets could move on from Tyler after the 2023 season with a minimal dead cap hit, there is absolutely no reason for them to do that.
In the off-season, we wondered if Conklin could be used in a hybrid H-back role, and he has spent 4 snaps this season in the backfield, but week 5 was the last time we saw him there. His move blocking was one of the reasons he was highly regarded coming out of OSU, but he’s not had the chance to show that this year. The Jets also don’t really use a fullback in their game plan and instead elected to have both Michael Carter and Breece Hall on the field at the same time, that was a formation that worked well and I think we’ll see plenty of that next season.
Ruckert grew up a Jets fan, his Dad is a Jets fan, it was a great story and I celebrated the selection with every other Jets fan, it felt good. But at this point, playing revisionist history I do start to wonder if that 3rd round pick was better spent elsewhere. Kerby Joseph went a handful of spots ahead of Ruckert. Ruckert’s story hasn’t even started to be written and I’ll be pulling for him, but right now I wonder where the opportunities are going to come.
Thanks for reading The Jets Way! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.