NFL New York Jets

Five Young New York Jets Who Need to Raise Their Game the Rest of the Way

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Young New York Jets Players Who Need to Take Their Game to the Next Level


It’s been a rocky start to the 2012 NFL season for the New York Jets, who have a respectable 2-1 record but suffered a huge loss in their overtime victory last weekend.

All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is lost for the season after tearing the ACL in his left knee, and it seems like anyone who didn’t write off the Jets’ playoff hopes before the season has certainly written them off now.

For the Jets to survive the blow of losing one of the true elite players in football, they’ll need to play like a true team, and that means everybody has to do a little more.

The Jets are one of the younger teams in the NFL, and at times that could be a very good thing. Other times it can mean growing pains, and that’s something the coaches need to minimize.

Earlier this week, I talked about five young players who have stepped their game up so far this season. They’ve gotten solid production and value from guys like Muhammad Wilkerson and Bilal Powell.

Now it’s time to give a kick in the rear end to five guys who the Jets need to step up, the sooner the better. These players will all be playing integral roles going forward, and they need to grasp that opportunity.

Whether it’s the franchise quarterback trying to make his mark, or the struggling right tackle trying to keep him upright, there is plenty of room for improvement for this Jets team.

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Stephen Hill - Wide Receiver


Rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill had an NFL debut to remember, when he caught two touchdown passes in the Jets' Week 1 victory and looked like a force to be reckoned with.

The 21-year-old from Georgia Tech is still pretty raw, as evidenced by him being completely shut out with zero catches in Weeks 2 and 3 combined.

He's got the natural athleticism to get separation, but he's still learning how to properly run routes, and he needs to do a better job adjusting to the ball in the air and coming down with the catch.

The young man definitely has a bright future ahead of him, but the coaching staff needs to find a way to have Hill minimize his mistakes and maximize his potential, something that could be more of a long-term process.

Hill is pretty banged up headed into Week 4, and it wouldn't surprise me to see his reps limited this week in favor of Chaz Schilens even if he is active on Sunday.

But the Stephen Hill we saw in Week 1 will be back. The Jets need that version to re-emerge, as soon as possible.

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Quinton Coples - Defensive End

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Quinton Coples, the Jets' first-round pick in this past April's draft, was a beast in August, recording at least one sack in all four preseason games.

However, once the calendar turned to September and the regular season began, Coples has been pretty quiet, although it hasn't been because of ineffectiveness.

After seeing 31 snaps on defense in the Jets' Week 1 victory, Coples saw a total of only 15 snaps over the past two weeks, though he was struggling with an illness last week.

Now fully healthy again, Rex Ryan says that Coples has had his best week of practice yet, and he's earned more playing time.

The Jets need to get more pressure from their front seven to make up for the loss of Darrelle Revis. Quinton Coples can definitely cause chaos in the pocket. It's time for him to get his chance to make an impact.

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Kyle Wilson - Cornerback

Alan Maglaque-US PRESSWIRE

With #24 lost for the season, it's time for #20 to step up.

Kyle Wilson has been a key member of the secondary all along, but now he moves to the outside where he will be tested early and often by opposing offenses.

The 2010 1st-rounder has a chance to show the football world what he's made of, and for a guy who's snuck mostly under the radar in the past, all eyes are on him now.

It would be absurd to suggest that Wilson will step in and be Darrelle Revis going forward. But he's got the talent to be a solid starting cornerback in this league.

The Jets are fortunate to have a top flight cornerback in Antonio Cromartie, but they'll need the rest of their secondary to pick up the slack. It all starts with the 25-year-old Wilson.

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Austin Howard - Offensive Tackle


As the Jets figured out last year, it's a heck of a lot more difficult for a young quarterback to make plays when he's running for his life than when he's standing in a clean pocket with time to make his reads.

The Jets had hoped that their offensive line woes were in the past after jettisoning Wayne Hunter to St. Louis, but young first year starter Austin Howard has had his share of growing pains at right tackle.

The 25-year-old Howard did an excellent job stonewalling Mario Williams in Week 1, but he's struggled mightily against the likes of LaMarr Woodley and Cameron Wake the past two weeks.

While it's understandable that any tackle could struggle against Pro Bowl caliber players, it's not as if life is going to get any easier for Howard in the coming weeks.

The Jets have done a decent job scheming around Howard's inexperience, and to his credit, his run blocking has been an upgrade over Hunter's, but for the Jets to really take off on offense, they'll need more.

The Jets do have Jason Smith waiting in the wings, but I think they'll give Howard more time to prove he's the guy at right tackle. He's shown flashes of brilliance. Consistency is key. It's time to step it up.

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Mark Sanchez - Quarterback

Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Just like his rookie pass catcher Stephen Hill and right tackle Austin Howard, quarterback Mark Sanchez started the season with a bang, winning in utterly dominant fashion back in Week 1.

Of course, as the offense has started to sputter, Sanchez has fallen back to earth, and now with the defense losing their best player, the onus is on the offense to pick up the slack.

Fair or not, it all starts with the quarterbacking of #6.

It's time for Mark Sanchez to take the next step towards being the type of quarterback you can count on to win games late for your football team. Not just some of the time, but all the time.

I'm not saying I need Sanchez to go beat the San Francisco 49ers and the Houston Texans these next two weeks. But I want to see him compete with them and not back down.

The Sanchez who tore apart the Buffalo Bills a few weeks ago, the Sanchez who's been a postseason star, that's the guy the Jets need right now. If the Jets are to make a run this season, it will be on Sanchez's shoulders.

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