After cutting the failed experiment of Jace Amaro, the New York Jets are left with three tight ends—Kellen Davis, Brandon Bostick and rookie Braedon Bowman—who don’t really fit the “move” tight end mold the NFL has had for the last few seasons.
It’s all according to plan, though, and we’ll explain how.
The Jets actually functioned very much like this last year, after Amaro went down in the preseason with a season-ending injury. The Jets only targeted their tight ends 25 times, a shocking stat considering the type of offense that Chan Gailey runs, which gets the ball out of his quarterback’s hands quickly.
Normally a tight end would fit in well there—a big target who can move in the short and intermediate space for quick targets. The Jets didn’t do that, though, and they won’t this year. In fact, they won’t have to.
Quincy Enunwa returns to the lineup this weekend and it’s a huge boost to this offense. Yes, he’s the third receiver behind Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker, both of whom will get the lion’s share of targets. However, Enunwa’s skill-set will find a lot of use beyond the occasional target in three-wide sets.
Enunwa played a sort of hybrid role last season, a combination of tight end and wide receiver which helped mask the lack of a real “move” tight end. Expect more of the same this year, but amplified.
At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds Enunwa is a bit lighter than your average tight end but he’s a strong, physical receiver with good hands and should be able to be a problem in the middle of the field despite the lack of size.
The Jets saw some good production from Enunwa this preseason before he was sidelined with a concussion, and we can expect them to get him very involved from the beginning.
Gailey also has two very good receiving options in his backfield. While the plan is to use Bilal Powell to keep Matt Forte fresh for the back half of the season, both players are dangerous with the ball in their hands and very good receivers.
It shouldn’t shock anyone if Powell lines up in the backfield and Forte out in the slot or out wide, and conversely Forte in the backfield with Powell out wide would be an issue for defenses as well.
There is a reason the team upgraded from Chris Ivory—a mediocre at best receiver—to Forte, who is an excellent receiver. While it wasn’t wholly to replace Amaro (at the time, Amaro actually looked like he might be decent this year), it certainly was on the team’s collective minds.
Having two similarly skilled backs in Forte and Powell gives the Jets the luxury of having both on the field without changing how the offense is run. They can very easily use one in place of a tight end, from a receiving standpoint, and not miss a beat.
The Jets may not have a classical “move” tight end right now, but that’s OK. They have several other options which could serve just as well.