Before we get one of you to run the anchor leg in the informercial against the perils of ambitiously improvising regular blog features on the fly that is our 53-man roster relay, JetsFix regular R in CT opted to take the baton and run with it by projecting...into the past. Let us know if you want to be the one to run the anchor leg tomorrow for real.
So as I'm wont to do, I have taken the 53 projection baton and run off the track and into the weeds. After I started, I realized the current team's 53 would have been a much easier exercise. But I'm not s-m-r-t smrt like that.
Anyway, I really tried to cover all eras of franchise history, and I know there's plenty of room for debate—although I'm sure nobody here has any sort of opinion on this sort of stuff ...
It's also been fun to imagine going to war with this roster and all the guys in their prime. Seriously, so many good players in this franchise's history, even in some of the tougher times.
Okay, enough stalling. Here we go!
QB (3) Joe Namath, Ken O'Brien, Chad Pennington
A healthy Joe Willie in his prime is a no-brainer and O'Brien, like him or not (and I know many did not), was still above average. Richard Todd is still God and statistically ahead of Pennington, but Chad was only hurt by being hurt—when healthy, he was the better QB. (And this comes from a guy who grew up with a Richard Todd poster on his wall!) Vinny from Elmont merited consideration as well. And I know Brett Favre is an all-time great, but with only one season as a Jet, that doesn't feel like enough to qualify for this discussion.
RB (4) Curtis Martin, Freeman McNeil, Emerson Boozer, John Riggins
Again, the first three are no brainers. Riggins is primarily known as a Washington Hall-of-Famer, but he did post five seasons with the Jets, which is enough to qualify him for sixth place in the team's all-time rushing list, so I feel as if it's okay to include him here. Matt Snell and Johnny Hector are just on the other side of the cut line.
FB (1) Richie Anderson
The most productive fullback in team history, with more than 2,400 receiving yards over 10 seasons. If the list was based on name only, Nuu Faaola would be in.
WR (5) Don Maynard, Wesley Walker, Al Toon, Wayne Chrebet, Keyshawn Johnson
The first four are arguably the Mt. Rushmore of Jets receivers. I despised a lot of what Keyshawn said and how he acted off the field, but on the field, he was an immensely talented player. The next tier includes favorites Laveraneus Coles, Jerricho Cotchery and Rob Moore.
TE (3) Mickey Shuler, Rich Caster, Jerome Barkum
These three guys were from the "good ol' days" when the Jets could rely on durable, quality tight ends, not the revolving door of middling tight ends from the past few decades or so.
OL (9) Winston Hill, Nick Mangold, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Marvin Powell, Joe Fields, Dan Alexander, Randy Rasmussen, Kevin Mawae, Dave Herman
Could you imagine running behind any combination of these guys? Some high-quality players over the years, for sure. Can we get any of them to come back now? I also considered Alan Faneca, but he only logged two seasons with the team—again, not sure this should qualify.
NT (2) Joe Klecko, Damon Harrison
As we all know, Klecko should be a Hall of Famer. Period. Snacks was terrific with the Jets and still is excellent for those other guys. Kris Jenkins was dominant when healthy but Harrison seemed to be bit more versatile, so I gave him the nod. Jason Ferguson and Sione Po'uha also were top-notch interior cloggers.
DL (5) Mark Gastineau, John Abraham, Shaun Ellis, Muhammad Wilkerson, Gerry Philbin
Not sure how you can argue against any of these guys, including pre-megadeal Wilkerson. Philbin played in an era where sacks weren't officially counted, but he notched 14.5 in the 1968 championship season and is on the all-time AFL team. Sheldon Richardson, Marvin Washington and Jeff Lageman comprise the next tier. A few more good seasons can push Leo Williams into the conversation. And I feel the need to honorable mention Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam, charter members of the Sack Exchange.
LB (8) Mo Lewis, Larry Grantham, David Harris, Kyle Clifton, Marvin Jones, Lance Mehl, Calvin Pace, Al Atkinson
My favorite position and an abundance of riches! For the kids, Atkinson was a member of the '68 team who also grabbed 21 interceptions, while Mehl netted 15 interceptions and 14 sacks (although it wasn't an official counted stat in the early part of his 8-year- Jets career). Sorry to the likes of Bryan Thomas, Jon Vilma and James Farrior, all of whom were terrific players.
CB (5) Darrelle Revis, Aaron Glenn, James Hasty, Antonio Cromartie, Bobby Jackson
Revis, duh. Glenn and Hasty both had 24 interceptions apiece, and were very good corners. Cromartie may be one of the most physically gifted players in team history who was capable of greatness or disaster, and sometimes on back-to-back plays. Jackson was a reliable piece of those early 1980s teams. Ty Law only played one season for the green-and-white, so it's hard to think of him an all-time Jet.
S (4) Victor Green, Bill Baird, Erik McMillan, Kerry Rhodes
The youngins may not know Baird, but he had 34 (not a typo!) interceptions in 7 years and was part of the Super Bowl champion team. Ronnie Lott and Ed Reed are Hall-of-Famers who played with the Jets, but for short periods so again, not feeling as though they should be on this list. And sorry, but it's still a bit too early for Adams and Maye. Maybe next year?
ST (4) Pat Leahy (K), Curley Johnson (P), James Dearth (LS), Bruce Harper (Returner)
Leahy is the all-time scorer, Johnson the all-time punting yardage leader (although interestingly Lachlan Edwards already out averages him, 44 yards per punt to 42.5 yards). Dearth never had a bad snap (obviously my boy Tanner Purdum is next up). And Harper returned both punts and kickoffs. I was sorely tempted to go with the dynamic and exciting Leon Washington, one of my all-time favorites, but Harper had a much bigger body of work.
R in CT is a loyal Jets fan who has been interacting with fans online since the early days of Brian Bassett's TheJetsBlog. He's a talented writer and photographer and if you like weird stuff, you can read more from him at Damned Connecticut where the front page includes stories on cemeteries, penises, hauntings, faceless frogs and bears.