It was easier to pick out the duds from the Jets’ loss to the Patriots, but there were a couple studs that stood out as well.
Chris Herndon, TE:
Herndon caught a season-high seven passes on eight targets, also a season-high. While he collected only 57 yards on those (about 8.1 yards per catch), he registered three first downs, another new season high.
Herndon has caught fire and is now one of the hottest tight ends in the NFL. Since Week 6, Herndon has racked up 21 catches (10th among tight ends), 267 yards (eighth), and three touchdowns (sixth), while averaging 9.9 yards per target (fifth among top 35 qualifiers).
Few rookie tight ends in recent history have been able to put up the numbers Herndon has so far this season. The only ones who have are either emerging into stars or already have and are on their way to Canton.
Since 2003, the only rookie tight ends to post over 25 receiving yards per game and 12 yards per reception have been Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, Rob Gronkowski, Zach Ertz, Hunter Henry, and O.J. Howard. Both Herndon and fellow rookie Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens are on pace to join that group.
Herndon’s mid-season emergence into a consistently efficient weapon has been one of the few bright developments on the Jets offense this season.
Jamal Adams, S:
Wow. The Jets are a storm of misery and boredom, but right in the middle of it all is a fireball of tenacity who almost single-handedly makes the team somewhat watchable. That’s Adams.
Adams has been the unquestioned best player on this team throughout most of the season. But this matchup against New England provided an excellent opportunity for him to showcase his rapid development.
When the Jets took on the Patriots in their first meeting last year, Gronk victimized Adams with a pair of touchdowns—but both were close calls. In fact, while Adams struggled mightily in coverage throughout 2017, many of the plays on which he was beaten were by excruciatingly small margins.
Jamal Adams inches away from big plays in coverage. He wasn't burnt toast. He was soooo close to destroying so many plays in coverage. Excited to see what he can do with a full year under his belt. If he is just a beat quicker to the ball, he can be a beast in coverage. pic.twitter.com/ePDEgafzxX
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) June 16, 2018
He’s made up that small gap and then some this year, and this week’s meeting with Gronk was the most visible proof. Adams manned up against Gronkowski quite a bit, and never gave up anything on those snaps. There was a sequence in the first half where Tom Brady failed to connect with Gronk in the end zone twice, both times covered by Adams.
He’s a superstar with a winning attitude. Now, the Jets just need a few more copies of him—specifically on offense.
Josh McCown, QB:
McCown has been nowhere near the player he was last season. He’s currently posting career lows in quarterback rating and yards per attempt.
Jeremy Bates’ offense has been significantly more conservative than John Morton’s was last year. McCown had a career year under Morton, and a primary reason was his success launching deep bombs down the sideline. Those concepts have been far less common this year, and that change coupled with his own personal regression has led McCown back to his usual career norm.
Morris Claiborne, CB:
Claiborne had perhaps his worst game of the season in terms of the raw production he was responsible for. He was toasted left and right by Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Chris Hogan.
Leonard Williams, DT:
Williams was manhandled in run defense and registered his sixth consecutive game without a sack. In addition, he added a roughing the passer call.
I still believe Williams has been what you can call a “solid” player this year, but he continues to regress. Fans had hoped he’d leap from a strong rookie season to ascend into one of the league’s dominant interior pass rushers. That hasn’t happened. He’s a solid run defender and decent pass rusher who can generate pressure but can’t make splash plays on his own. That’s nice, but it’s not what the Jets drafted him to be at No. 6. While you have to be even-keeled and realize he is still a decent player, it’s fair to be disappointed with the way he has turned out.
Yeah, it’s probably a waste of time to pile on the lame duck at this point. Still, Bowles continued to embarrass himself and hurt the team. In the first quarter, he declined a penalty that would bring up a Patriots fourth down. Instead, he took the penalty and gave the Patriots an extra down, even though the yardage did not back them out of field goal range. On that extra play, Brady found Gronkowski for a touchdown.
Bowles’ team again failed to adjust after halftime and was smacked around in the second half. He again led an ultra-conservative attack with his team trailing in the fourth quarter.
Yawn. Same old, same old. Bowles will be gone at season’s end. But until then, he will do an effective job setting up the next regime by leading the Jets to premier draft position.