While I think the Jets struggles in the run game are obviously in large part due to an offensive line that has gotten progressively worse over the last couple of years, I think some focus also needs to be placed on a receiving corps with no real deep threat. Braylon Edwards was a guy that could stretch the field for the Jets. Secondaries needed to respect his ability to run the 9 route and get behind them. The Jets don’t really have that kind of threat with Holmes, Burress or Mason. Holmes is the fastest guy of the three but he tends to run a lot of quick slants. Burress has been used more on the deep routes but its his size that makes him dangerous, not his speed. I don’t think there are many corners that are worried about Burress running by them. If we had a speed WR that could stretch the field, secondaries would need to play back more and this would help to loosen up the run.
I’d like to see Kerley worked into the offense and see if he has the speed and ability to stretch the field. He is listed on the depth chart as an X receiver behind Burress. As an X receiver, lining up on the line of scrimmage, they are the ones more likely to run fade patterns and stretch the field.
Another possibility is Scotty McKnight. I was glad to see Scotty McKnight was signed to the practice squad yesterday. McKnight is faster than Kerley (at least according to their 40 yard dash times). While McKnight might look more like a slot receiver, I think he’s an option worth exploring. I was really surprised and disappointed that McKnight was not given more of a chance in preseason. Hopefully on the practice squad he can develop his special teams skills and work his way onto the 53-man roster.
All this business about stretching the field said, even this starts with the O-line. Without good protection, Sanchez won’t have the time to throw the ball downfield no matter how fast the receiver. Much has been written about our O-line woes. Ryan in many of his press conferences seems to minimize the issues we’ve been having here. However, it doesn’t take anything more than the knowledge of a casual fan to realize that we are in need of some serious O-Line help. I wouldn’t expect Ryan to acknowledge the problem publicly but I sure hope he and Mike T are working the problem privately. With all due respect to Colin Baxter, it is a sad state of affairs when a team with Superbowl aspirations is relying on a rookie unrestricted free agent who was cut by another team to be the one guy who touches the ball on every offensive play.