By Tyson Rauch
Heading into Week 11 of the NFL season the New York Jets stand at 5-4, which has the team in position to make a run at a playoff berth. Gang Green has been led by a ferocious defense along with a power running game that has taken the pressure off of rookie quarterback Geno Smith and the passing attack. Following the bye week the Jets offense could become more dynamic as the unit will be getting back three key players.
Top tight ends
The Jets played their last game against the Saints with their third and fourth string tight ends as Kellen Winslow was serving out the remainder of his suspension and Jeff Cumberland was dealing with the aftermath of a concussion. Both Winslow and Cumberland are expected to return this week against the Buffalo Bills which will allow the offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, to expand his playbook.
Winslow is a reliable target that can serve as a safety valve for Geno Smith. The University Miami alum runs crisp routes and has shown the ability and toughness to get yards after the catch. Jeff Cumberland has made some big plays within the Jets offense as he has the size and speed to beat linebackers and safeties. The return of these two playmakers will provide Gang Green with a threat in the middle of the field and will free up big plays on the outside and down the field.
Wide receiver Santonio Holmes is scheduled to return after the bye as the veteran has recovered from another leg injury. Holmes is the Jets best receiver and provides Geno Smith with a consistent set of hands and a presence that opposing defenses must account for. Santonio’s return will help offset the loss of Jeremy Kerley who suffered a serious elbow injury against the New Orleans Saints on November 3.
Full speed ahead
The return of the veterans mentioned above puts the Jets offense at just about full strength. Gang Green will have the ability to open up the passing game which will make the running game that much more effective. A diverse offense provides Geno Smith an abundance of options and will keep defenses off-balance. Now it will be up to the rookie quarterback to play within the system and limit his turnovers.
One game at a time
Coming off of a bye the Jets have had plenty of time to relish their victory over the Saints and to read all of their positive press clippings. Gang Green must now get back into their playbooks and embrace the “us against the world” mentality. The Jets cannot afford any letdowns on or off the field if they truly want to make a run for a playoff spot. The team is getting healthy at the right time. Now can New York put together a string of victories at the right time?
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.