New York Jets: Young players who should be gaining experience in Week 18

new york jets, jeremy ruckert
Aug 12, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Jets tight end Jeremy Ruckert (89) scores a touchdown against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets have a meaningless game ahead in Miami to conclude the 2022 regular season. Sitting at 7-9 on a five-game losing streak, the Jets were eliminated from the playoffs last weekend and enter Week 18 with nothing to take from a win.

In turn, there should be increased opportunities for younger, more inexperienced players on this football team to gain some experience and potentially start to prove what they could be heading into 2023.

When going over the Jets roster, there are a good amount of players with youth who could certainly benefit from more reps this weekend against the Dolphins. Let’s review all of the Jets players who need more playing time for their futures going into the final game of 2022.

New York Jets who need to play more in Week 18:

Tony Adams, S:

The Jets undrafted rookie earned a 53-man roster spot and stuck all year. Finally, due to an injury to Lamarcus Joyner, Tony Adams got his first opportunity to play in Seattle last week and showed some intrigue.

He played 60 snaps (74 total all year) and was active, finishing with seven total tackles. Adams has always had fluid athletic ability, which was on display. Along with his speed, Adams showed a physical willingness while working downhill as a tackler.

What Adams also offers the Jets moving forward is a trait they need at safety, man coverage ability. Adams is a former cornerback who could potentially help the Jets on running backs and tight ends in the future.

With Joyner out for the regular season finale, head coach Robert Saleh stated to reporters yesterday that Adams will get continued reps this week. Saleh also said that they liked what they saw in Adams.

The safety position will be a topic of conversation for Jets fans all throughout the 2023 offseason. It would be great if Adams could continue to grow as a 23-year-old rookie and begin to firmly establish himself as an asset at the position for the Jets going into next year.

Jamien Sherwood, LB:

The first of three fifth-round picks made by the Jets in the 2021 NFL draft has only seen 16 snaps this year and 155 total over his first two years. What’s impressive is that in just 16 snaps this season, Jamien Sherwood has recorded 14 tackles.

This last weekend, he appeared on defense for the third game this year. Sherwood played six snaps and recorded four tackles, all of which were solo, and one was a tackle for loss. In minimal action throughout 2022, even dating back to the preseason, Sherwood has shown some glimpses of growth.

Even from a roster construction standpoint going into the offseason, the Jets have questions with all of their top three linebackers from this year. C.J. Mosley could be a cap casualty and turns 31. Quincy Williams and Kwon Alexander are both free agents. It makes playing Sherwood this upcoming week that much more logical.

Over the course of his first two years with the Jets, Sherwood has predominately been the Jets’ fourth linebacker. It only makes sense that as a recent draft selection, the Jets look to increase his role in year three.

Sherwood is still only 22 years old and, while maybe a bit limited athletically, is a physical, tough football player. Not to mention, the Jets have always raved about his intelligence. Hopefully, Sherwood sees an uptick in reps this final week of the year.

Jeremy Ruckert, TE:

The Jets’ third-round draft pick from this year has been kept on the shelf all throughout his rookie year. While the tight end position is certainly one of the harder positions to play as a first-year player, to say Ruckert has played a total of 27 snaps to this point is a surprise. Especially considering how fast not only the Jets’ draft picks but a few undrafted rookies have come along.

He undoubtedly was placed in a good position to develop, not having to rush with Tyler Conklin and CJ Uzomah in place. However, on-field reps will also be paramount for Ruckert to become the player the Jets drafted him to be eventually.

Coach Saleh was ironically asked about Ruckert and his growth at his press conference this morning and stated the following.

“Yeah, he’s a good example. I’m really excited about Jeremy. I know he hasn’t had a lot of action this year. But, I think that’s more of a testament to Conk and CJ and then Yeboah’s emergence, the way he’s come on from a special teams standpoint. The excuses I can make for Ruck is that he missed all OTAs and missed all of training camp so he’s just kind of been behind the eight ball. But, with the show team and our flight school at the end of practice and all those things, what you see is an uber-athletic young man and if he can put together a really good offseason, I think people will see a good tight end. Not just a good one. But a really, really good tight end, he’s got a really good chance.”

Some high praise from Saleh on Ruckert, and for good reason. Ruckert is a 22-year-old with the size, physicality, and, as Saleh stated, the athleticism to be a terrific player. It would be nice to see Ruckert gain a few more snaps than what he has seen over most of his rookie year.

Jermaine Johnson, DE:

One inevitable on the Jets roster transitioning from 2022 to 2023 is that Jermaine Johnson will have a much greater role. The Jets’ third first-round draft pick from this year’s promising class has played in 13 games totaling 287 snaps—an average of 22.1 per week. Even with the limited role, Johnson has picked up 2.5 sacks.

The encouraging thing is that over the last two weeks, Johnson has seen new highs in terms of snaps. He played 28 against the Jaguars, which was a season-high by four. Then, in Seattle, Johnson played by far the most to date, totaling 36 snaps (50% of the Jets’ defensive snaps). He finished with one quarterback hit.

Then, looking ahead to the offseason, you factor in the strong likelihood that Carl Lawson will be released, and Johnson’s development will become that much more significant for this current Jets’ third-ranked defense.

Regardless of what the stat sheet indicates, Johnson has proven his potential in limited playing time as a first-year player. As both a pass rusher and run defender, Johnson has made some splash, impact plays.

Johnson is very gifted both physically and athletically. With the talent the 23-year-old has, a year-two jump will be expected. It would be great to see a third consecutive week in which Johnson’s rep count only goes up.

Denzel Mims, WR:

Over the last two years, the talk surrounding 2020 second-round pick, Denzel Mims and the hope for his development has certainly grown to be exhausting. However, when reviewing what the Jets wide receiver group could be looking like in 2023, Mims possibly projects to be in a prime depth role.

The Jets will likely be moving on from both Corey Davis and Braxton Berrios to free up cap space this offseason. With other projected needs across the roster, the Jets may not be able to allocate significant resources to a sure thing at wide receiver behind Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore.

Not to mention, Mims has certainly worked to win over the Jets coaching staff and seen his role increase this year. Since his first game in Week 7, Mims has totaled 265 snaps in nine games, an average of 29.4 per week. He has gotten at least 16 snaps in seven of the nine games he has played.

After Sunday, Mims only has one year remaining on his contract. As a physical specimen loaded with athletic traits, the Jets need to find out what type of player their former second-round pick will be. Mims should continue to see his share of reps in this week’s final game.