By Rikki Greenberg
As the NFL approaches Week 8 of the regular season, it’s time to bust out the red sharpies and do a little mid semester grading. With the New York Jets as my pupils, I take no mercy in assigning the appropriate letter grade to a group who has pumped green and white through me for the past three months (Extra credit and kissing up were not included in the following assessments).
QBÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â B-
Future Hall-of-Fame quarterback Brett Favre has the experience of an 18-season veteran but the erratic performance of a rookie from Southern Mississippi. Old Man River can go from 24 of 34 for 289 yards with six touchdown passes to 21 of 38 and 5.2 yards per attempt. This past Sunday’s match-up against the limping underdogs of Kansas City showcased Favre in all of his interception glory; low-lighted by the 91-yard TD return by Chiefs rookie cornerback Brandon Flowers to put the Chiefs (1-6) up 24-21 in the fourth quarter.Â Let’s hope Favre can get it together in time for next Sunday’s match-up against the Buffalo Bills (5-2).
RBÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â B+
The heavenly duo of running back Thomas Jones and Leon Washington seems to be working for the Green and White offense. Thomas was more bust than boom last season, but seems to have put the sparkle back into his step with a season high 159 rushing yards and a 6.6 yards per carry average against the Oakland Raiders in Week 7. This could be a big year for Neon Leon Washington (27 carries for 155 yards), who had his first career rushing touchdown against the Chiefs last
WRÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â B
The wide receiving corps of 9-year veteran wide receiver Laveraneus Coles, former North Carolina wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery and second-year wide receiver Chansi Stuckey are doing it big for the Gang Green offense. Despite a hamstring injury suffered at the beginning of the season and a concussion during Week 7 against the Raiders, Coles proceeded to come through for the Jets. The one-handed grab in the end zone with a minute left in the fourth quarter allowed the Jets to come out on top against the Chiefs last Sunday with a 28-24 victory. I feel fairly confident in the play-making abilities of J.Co (36 for 430 yards with 3 TDs) and Chansi “Take a Chance on me” Stuckey (19 for 225 yards with 3 TDs) because they are good route-runners, can break tackles in the open field and the Big Cheese can depend on them most of the time.
TEÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â C
The tight end position has had its fair share of injuries so far in the season from Chris Baker out with a back injury and Bubba Franks out with a hip injury. Cue rookie tight end Dustin Keller from Purdue and Mangenius finally has a man to fill the position. Given the Jets have their two best players out and Keller has never played in the NFL until this season, the expectations aren’t set too high. Keller has shown promise -two end zone grabs in his NFL debut- meaning the Jets know they have a go-to man when nobody else is available.
OLÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â D+
Oh the offensive line. Where do I even begin? The offensive line can be described as horrible at worst and mediocre at best. The Jets have a well-respected, pretty talented quarterback whose occasionally shown flashes of brilliance leading up to this point in the season. This could be Old Man River’s last year and the O-line plays like they want him to get knocked out sometimes.Â Last Sunday’s attempt at protecting the Big Cheese against one of the worst pass-rushing defenses in the league was hot garbage. Should I mention the three Jets turnovers and three sacks versus the lowly Raiders in Week 7? Oy!
DLÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â C
The brouhaha in Jets camp surrounding newly acquired nose tackle Kris Jenkins around was enough to fill an entire segment of Sportscenter.Â The front-three is similar to the offensive line in the sense that it’s hard to expect a steady performance from week-to-week.Â When Jenkins was taken out in the first quarter due to a back injury against the San Diego Chargers in Week 3, the defense collapsed and the Jets lost 29-48. Of course, weâ€™ve seen him get schooled when healthy as well. (The Jamarcus Russell rolling out of the pocket and firing a long TD pass comes to mind) The 350-pounder had seven sacks for Carolina in 2003 compared to just one sack with the Jets since the start of this campaign.Â Jenkins should be pounding quarterbacks to the ground like he did in Carolina.
DBÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â B
Strong safety Kerry Rhodes has really come into his own this season. The lean-mean tackling machine had eight tackles and a sack against the Kansas City Chiefs last Sunday and a total of 41 tackles through seven games. Rhodes covers receivers like peanut butter on jelly, corrals the ball like it was meant for him and brings down guys whichever way he can. Other standouts include rookie cornerback Dwight Lowery (39 tackles, 1 forced fumble) and strong safety Eric Smith (25 tackles, 1 interception).
STÂ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â B+
This highlight here is Neon Leon Washington who has done a great job lately at returning kicks for the Green and White. Since the match-up with the Bengals during Week 6 of the regular season, Washington has returned three kicks for 20+ yards. The future for Washington is blindingly bright (this could be his breakout season) and I feel confident that he will keep up the productivity and continue putting the Jets in good field position.