Nebraska product and 2014 Jets draft selection Quincy Enunwa had a down season for New York in 2018, dealing with injuries that limited him to only 11 appearances. However, that didn’t stop the Jets from extending a vote of confidence to their freakishly athletic wide receiver. Before the calendar had even flipped to 2019, New York agreed with Enunwa on a brand new deal, locking him up with a four-year, $36 million contract that could keep him in green through 2022.
New head coach Adam Gase, known as an offensive savant, has to be excited about the things he could do with Enunwa in 2019.
Let’s run through three of the top skills Enunwa will bring to the table for Gase’s offense in 2019.
Making Plays In The Open Field
Enunwa’s skill as a ball-carrier is absolutely dazzling. It all starts with his amazing physical profile. He’s got plenty of size, standing at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds. To boot, he boasts impressive strength, posting a bench press mark of 19 reps that places him in the 83rd percentile among wide receivers.
For a man of his size, Enunwa moves with incredible quickness. He ran the forty-yard dash in 4.45 seconds. When coupled with his above average weight and height, that gives a “speed score” (via PlayerProfiler.com) of 116.3 – good enough for the 97th percentile among wide receivers.
Altogether, Enunwa has coupled those physical gifts with savvy playmaking skills to become one of the most dangerous receivers in the league with the ball in his hands. In each of his last two healthy seasons, Enunwa has ranked top-10 at the wide receiver position in average yards after the catch (YAC) per reception. In 2016, he gained an average of 6.2 YAC per reception, ranking 8th at wide receiver. In 2018, he improved to a mark of 7.7 YAC per reception, good enough for 3rd at wide receiver.
Enunwa can beat tacklers in so many different ways. He’s big and strong enough to put his head down and mow people over. He’s got enough burst to run vertically past a pursuing safety. He even has the lateral quickness and juke game to shake off defenders in 1-on-1 situations.
In 2018, Enunwa caught 14 designed screen passes, and gained a very strong average of 10.0 yards on those plays. He picked up a first down on seven of those, a highly efficient rate.
Gase relied on screen passes quite a bit while he was in Miami. If that trend continues, Enunwa could make a lot of noise in the underneath game this season.
Deep Vertical Game
One of the issues Enunwa had last season is that he struggled to produce down the field. He had a hard time developing camaraderie with Sam Darnold, while offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates did not give him a heavy diet of downfield routes.
Back in 2016, when Enunwa posted career highs of 857 yards and four touchdowns, he was an absolute beast when it came to deep vertical routes. According to Pro Football Focus, he led the NFL in catch percentage on deep routes that season, with a robust mark of 80.0%. Despite catching passes from a struggling Ryan Fitzpatrick and the ineffective Bryce Petty, Enunwa dominated his opponents game after game on post and go routes.
In 2016, Enunwa caught 16 out of 31 targets on go and post routes for 426 yards, 15 first downs, and two touchdowns. That’s downright tremendous production, and even more so when you consider the quarterbacks that were throwing him the ball that year.
In 2018, Enunwa saw a huge downturn on those deep numbers. He caught just 1 out of 10 targets on go and post routes for 41 yards, picking up just the one first down and zero touchdowns.
Gase would be wise to try and make the most out of Enunwa’s talents as a deep receiver this year. His straight line speed allows to him frequently open himself up as a target for big plays in the deep ranges of the field. In addition, Enunwa has showcased incredible ability as a jump-ball winner, flashing some phenomenal hands down the field in contested catch situations. He utilizes his strength and elite leaping ability to body defenders and win position. With the ball in the air, Enunwa is great at timing his jump to pinpoint the football at its apex, and his hands have only gotten softer in those tough scenarios.
The go and post routes were two concepts Sam Darnold struggled to consistently produce with. If Enunwa can recapture his 2016 magic in this area, it could go a long way towards helping Darnold fully unlock that facet of his game.
Before Enunwa broke out in 2016, he was mostly known for his plus blocking ability at the wide receiver position. Even since he’s become more involved as a receiver, Enunwa has still been able to make an impact with his blocking.
Enunwa combines his strength with a high motor to produce quality results as a blocker. In 2018, among the 88 wide receivers to log at least 150 run-block snaps, Enunwa earned the second-best run blocking grade from Pro Football Focus.
As mentioned earlier, Gase has historically been a coach who was relied upon screen passes as a focal point of the offense. A huge factor in the effectiveness of a screen play is the blocking of the wide receivers on the outside.
There were times in 2018 where Gase’s screen plays fizzled due to the inadequate blocking of his wide receiver group, which featured a lot of players with below average size. Enunwa can erase that deficiency this season. His physicality and aggressiveness as a blocker could be utilized to its fullest in Gase’s offense. Now that the Jets have a couple of other weapons who could eat up screen receptions in Jamison Crowder and Le’Veon Bell, Enunwa should get more opportunities as a lead blocker than he did in 2018.
Enunwa is a physically gifted player who has showcased a variety of impactful skills throughout his NFL career. Now, the key will be using them all to their fullest over the course of an entire season.
If the 27-year old former Cornhusker can stay in peak condition throughout 2019, he could finally show the football world everything he has to offer.