By MICHAEL FAIRLIE //
If there is one thing that is quite apparent in today’s NFL, it is that you can never have enough offensive weapons. The complementary pieces to an offense, or a defense for that matter, often receive far too much scrutiny and not nearly enough credit. Not every member of a team needs to be a superstar, and it is often the role players that can provide you with that extra boost necessary to ascend above the competition. In a league where teams are so evenly matched, it is those with the most depth that rise to the top of the mountain.
One such role player on the New York Jets offense is Quincy Enunwa, a 6th round pick out of Nebraska in the 2014 NFL Draft. Coming out of Nebraska’s traditionally run-heavy offense, Quincy did not post the gaudy numbers of receivers that played in wide-open spread systems, although he did get a lot of valuable experience as a blocker. He finished his college career with 115 catches for 1,526 yards and 15 TD’s. Enunwa did however accumulate 51 of those receptions for 753 yards and 12 TD’s during his senior year in 2013, giving him the all-time record for most receiving touchdowns in a season by a Cornhusker.
Serving as a team captain in 2013, Quincy was also named as the team’s Offensive MVP. Furthermore, he went on to finish his record-breaking season with Nebraska by grabbing four catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns, including a school-record 99-yard touchdown reception, in the team’s 24-19 Gator Bowl victory over Georgia. He was also a defensive pass interference penalty away from another potential 94-yard TD. Due to his extraordinary effort in the contest, Enunwa was awarded as the 2014 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl MVP.
Viewed as more of a developmental H-Back prospect coming out of college, and of course coming out of a run-first college system, Enunwa slipped to the 6th round of the draft, where John Idzik made one of his rare successful picks after day one of the player selection process. Relegated to the practice field in his rookie season, the coaching staff worked hard to get Quincy acclimated to the NFL game, but were unable to find a way to work him into the offense.
Enunwa spent the 2014 season refining his skills, mostly on the practice squad, and went into the offseason with Chan Gailey and company, setting a goal of learning the new system and carving himself a niche. When the new coaching staff had some time to closely evaluate their roster, they were able to find a use for his talent, and Quincy was ready to hit the field on Sundays.
Lining up mostly behind the line of scrimmage, in an H-Back role, the 6’2, 225-pound Enunwa managed to haul in 22 receptions for 315 yards on the season, making a few truly clutch catch-and-run plays down the stretch. He played an integral part in the run game throughout and expanded his role in the passing game as the season went on.
The season did not start out all that smoothly though. After not figuring into the offensive game plan in week 1, other than as a blocker, Enunwa had three ugly drops in the second game of the season against the Colts, to go along with a pedestrian three catches for 27 yards. He then had seven grabs for 67 yards in his next three games before serving a four game suspension for violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, stemming from a domestic violence incident in 2014, of which the charges were eventually dropped.
Returning with a rejuvenated focus to his game, Quincy improved upon his hand-eye coordination, dropping only a handful of passes in his final seven contests. He also had 14 receptions for 221 yards during those games, which on the surface may not seem like much, but working behind Marshall and Decker, primarily a blocking role, it was enough to give the team a spark from time to time.
Working relentlessly to raise his level of performance, Enunwa awarded the team for their patience in him with a spectacular 24-yard catch-and-run on a third-and-14 that helped set up a game-winning touchdown against the Cowboys in Week 15. He also had a clutch 48-yard reception in the team’s 26-20 win over the Patriots in Week 16, which set up the game-deciding score in overtime.
Still a work in progress, Quincy has a long way to go in order to become a consistent weapon in the Jets offensive attack, but he has certainly proven to be a contributor with an unknown, yet promising upside.
Enunwa has surely refined his route-running skills as well as his concentration on the ball in the air. And once he does get the ball in his hands, he has the speed and vision to turn up field after the catch as well as the strength and willingness to fight hard for every extra yard possible, with every ounce of his 225-pound being.
Work still needs to be done, but Enunwa has shown that he is willing to put in the time and effort to get to where he needs to be.
Originally buried on the depth chart at the beginning of training camp, with nowhere near a guarantee to make the opening day roster, Quincy opened eyes and climbed his way up the ladder. He slowly but surely earned his way into the lineup, and has not looked back ever since.
Overall, Quincy has shown a ton of potential if he can just keep his head in the game. That is easier said than done for a young player who was raw coming out of college to begin with, and has now been asked to play multiple roles.
I am anxious to see what Quincy can do after a year in Gailey’s system, which was essentially his rookie year, since he did not play at all in 2014. As time went on in the 2015 season, Chan found new and interesting ways to utilize Enunwa’s skills, and the Jets OC is sure to discover even more innovative approaches of working him into the offensive plan going forward.