Perhaps a young Jet from New York made her way up the roster against the Giants

Xavier Gipson stole the show in the pre-season finals for the New York Jets

Once the Aaron Rodgers Show ended, so was the Xavier Gipson Show.

The New York Jets’ undrafted wide receiver finished the team’s final pre-season game with team-highs of seven catches and 79 yards—both the Jet’s all-time best single-game totals in that pre-season. Four of his catches went on first downs, including two conversions of a third and a long. Gibson also added a 20-yard punt.

Going into the game, the Jets wide receiver competition is wide open due to the retirement of Corey Davis. It became a virtual guarantee that New York would retain at least one of its bubble range receivers, and there was a chance it would keep two of them.

In his last chance to make an impression, Gibson made sure the Jets coaching staff had no doubts that he deserved to get one of the two spots.

The most impressive aspect of Gibson’s performance was his dribbling. Although none of his catches required him to do much from a track-running standpoint, Gibson consistently gained extra yardage after the catch.

Gibson forced four missed tackles and had a total of 70 YAC (10.0 per reception). According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Gipson has collected 13 YAC Above Expectations, which means he gained 13 more yards after holding than a wide receiver in the league would be expected to gain in the same situations. On a per catch basis, Gibson averaged 1.9 YACOE.

The New York coaching staff will enjoy watching Gibson from this game. Note not only Gibson’s dribbling with the ball in his hands but also his spatial awareness. Gibson showed a good sense of his surroundings, knowing which path to take to maximize his YAC.

Gibson’s YAC skills will go a long way in helping him make this roster precisely because Aaron Rodgers and Nathaniel Hackett love receivers who can put together a YAC. In his two seasons under Hackett, Rodgers relied heavily on YAC.

Rodgers led the NFL with 6.0 YAC per completion in 2020 and finished fourth with 5.9 YAC per completion in 2021. Conversely, Rodgers ranked 24th in air yards per completion in 2020 (5.5) and 26th in overall 2021 (5.3). What this demonstrates is that Rodgers prefers shorter throws that put his receivers in ideal positions to make plays after being caught. Gibson’s playing style fits with this philosophy.

Rodgers yelled at Gibson after the game, saying the rookie had taken a “huge step forward” toward roster status.

In addition to the potential he demonstrated as a receiver, Gibson added to his roster by featuring flashes on special teams throughout the preseason. Gibson caught a kickoff return of 45 yards, a punt return of 31 yards, and a punt return of 20 yards with only eight total return opportunities in four games. Overall, he averaged 13.4 yards per kickoff return and 28.0 yards per kickoff return.

Suddenly, it feels like Gibson is in the driver’s seat of the Jets’ wide receiver competition.

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