New York Jets' Biggest Preseason Disappointments so Far
For as much growth as the New York Jets have seen from some of their younger players, they have seen their fair share of disappointments from this year's training camp.
With an oversized draft class (12 players) and few established veterans in place at a number of key positions, the Jets were dependent on several youngsters to blossom with expanded roles. Some players have shown improvement, but plenty have fallen short of expectations.
A player who performs poorly is not necessarily a disappointing player. After all there must be some kind of reasonable expectation that a player fails to meet—an undrafted free agent who is cut from the final roster is hardly a disappointment.
At the same time, there is a level of expectation for each drafted player to make the team (or at least come close). Otherwise, why bother drafting said player?
Here are some of the biggest preseason disappointments so far.
Stephen Hill's name has become synonymous with disappointment. After losing his starting spot to David Nelson last season, this summer was going to be a make-or-break season for the former second-round pick.
As much hype as he garnered in the spring, Hill has once again come up empty this preseason. Despite getting as many snaps as any receiver on the team, Hill has come away with just two catches for 29 yards this preseason.
While he would certainly be under a lot of scrutiny this summer, Hill's youth, upside and status as a second-round pick seemed to give him favorable odds to get one more season wearing green and white. However, Hill has been so unproductive that not even his enticing athleticism may be enough to save his job, Brian Costello of the New York Post predicts.
After listening to Rex today, I'll be surprised if Stephen Hill makes the team. #nyj— Brian Costello (@BrianCoz) August 26, 2014
The best thing going for Hill is that the Jets' receiving corps is in such bad shape that he still has a chance to make the roster. Still, even if he does make the roster, he has undoubtedly dropped several spots in the depth chart.
Hill's disappointing preseason hardly comes as a surprise to the Jets, who, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, tried to trade Hill earlier in the offseason.
Jets tried trading WR Stepehen Hill this summer. No takers. Let's see if final cuts today and Saturday change that equation.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 26, 2014
Regardless of what happens to Hill in the coming days, the chances of him enjoying a long, prosperous career with the Jets have all but evaporated.
Just a few months ago, the Jets' were faced with the problem of finding a place in their offense for the small-but-talented fourth-round rookie. Jalen Saunders was one of the only young receivers deemed worthy of praise for his minicamp production.
Now, Saunders' draft status is just about the only reason why he will likely stick on the final 53-man roster.
In his only preseason appearance in Week 1 against the Indianapolis Colts, Saunders did not catch a pass. He only saw action on two punt returns that combined for 11 yards.
Saunders does have a valid (and frightening) excuse for his absence. He suffered a seizure on the way to the team facility on Aug. 15, taking him out of commission for the last two preseason games.
The Jets are taking the right measures by keeping Saunders off the field for an extended period time after such a scary health episode, but there is no getting around the fact that his August has been far inferior to his spring. Even when he was healthy, Saunders never looked like the same explosive player from OTAs.
Once penciled in as the team's No. 1 cornerback, Dimitri Patterson has gone from being indispensable to a team outcast in a matter of days.
Patterson made headlines when he inexplicably went AWOL for the team's preseason game against the New York Giants. While an official reason for his absence has not been announced, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News offers one explanation:
Why did Dimitri Patterson skip Friday's game? I'm told he's not thrilled with Jets CB pecking order. His injuries dropped him on depth chart— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) August 25, 2014
Based on the fact that the Jets have taken their own disciplinary action by suspending Patterson for the rest of the preseason, Patterson's excuse does not hold much water, whatever it was.
Patterson was not having a good summer even before this bizarre incident. He was beat badly by Hakeem Nicks in the first preseason game against the Colts. Injuries kept him out of Week 2, which only resulted in more frustration between both Patterson and the Jets.
The Jets are too thin at cornerback to cut ties with Patterson for his odd and selfish behavior, but it is difficult to imagine Patterson's first summer with the Jets getting any worse.
In preparation for David Harris' entrance into free agency next offseason, the Jets spent their fifth-round selection on Iowa State linebacker Jeremiah George.
It's a selection that may have gone to waste.
The undersized Iowa State product has had a tough time just getting onto the field in the preseason. He's played just 23 snaps, recording just one tackle. He was most visible when he blew an assignment on a swing pass in the preseason opener that resulted in a touchdown.
According to OurLads.com, George is on the bottom of the inside-linebacker totem pole, beaten out by A.J. Edds and Troy Davis.
George is a top candidate to land a spot on the practice squad, but the Jets certainly had higher aspirations for their only fifth-round selection.
There was bound to be an adjustment period for a Northwest Missouri State product making the dramatic jump to the NFL, but the Jets were certainly hoping it would have gone smoother for sixth-round pick Brandon Dixon.
Leapfrogged by LeQuan Lewis on the depth chart, Dixon has had his hands full covering third-string receivers. According to Pro Football Focus, Dixon gave up a perfect quarterback rating against the Giants in the teams' third preseason game, allowing five receptions on six targets, including two touchdowns.
Dixon seems destined for the practice squad, which is an ideal place for him to develop the physical attributes that made him a draftable prospect. However, there is no question that the Jets would have hoped for Dixon to make a more seamless transition to the NFL, to at least challenge for a roster spot.
Dixon's career is far from over, even if he is eventually cut and manages to land on the Jets practice squad. But the clock will start ticking on his development.
On the heels of what was by far his most impressive season as a professional, Kyle Wilson is already showing signs of regression.
According to Pro Football Focus, Wilson has not just been the team's worst cornerback this preseason—he has been, by a significant amount, the worst defender on the team. In three games, he has allowed all but one of the 10 passes against him to be completed, one going for a touchdown. That translates to an opposing quarterback rating of 152.1 when targeting the fifth-year corner.
This is an exceptionally important year for the cornerback on a professional level, what with his contract expiring at the end of this season. For both his and the Jets' sake, Wilson had better hope that Ryan's prediction for a bright future is correct.
Advanced statistics provided by ProFootballFocus.com (subscription required).