Ryan Hess previews the New York Jets’ 2020 season by taking a look at their roster and expectations for the season and shares his Jets Futures pick.
Jets fans had hope for the first time in forever entering into the 2019 season. The Jets were coming off of a spending spree in free agency, Jamal Adams was entering into his prime after 2 phenomenal seasons, and Sam Darnold was ready to dominate with Le’Veon Bell. But a case of mono, horrible coaching, and the worst offensive line in football added up to a season to forget for Jets fans. But right when Jets fans thought it couldn’t get worse Jamal Adams publicly demanded a trade, criticized head coach Adam Gase, and was sent packing for Seattle.
After enduring that massive loss, the Jets were then informed by defensive captain CJ Mosley (who missed pretty much all of last season) that he would be opting out of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be an incredibly strange season for every team playing in the midst of a pandemic, but the Jets also have to figure out things as they go.
Sam Darnold will be entering into his third season starting at QB for the Jets, and this will be an important year for him. After missing 3 games in each of his first two seasons, Darnold will look to put it all together for a full season.
Darnold improved across the board in 2019, but missing 3 games due to a case of mono threw his season for a loop right from the start. I don’t think this is a playoffs or bust year for Darnold, but he needs to show something to prove to the Jets and fans that he is without a doubt the franchise’s answer at quarterback for years to come.
The Jets will have former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco as Darnold’s backup, a major improvement to their quarterback depth. When Darnold went down last year the Jets had to turn to former Broncos starter Trevor Siemian to take over at QB, but he broke his ankle in his first half as a Jet and we all saw how Luke Falk and David Fales fared. Hopefully the Jets won’t have to use Flacco at all, but he’s not a bad insurance policy if Darnold is forced to miss time again.
Last year it was assumed that running back would be the Jets strongest position, led by their new star running back Le’Veon Bell. Instead they finished 31st in the league in rushing yards and scored only 6 rushing touchdowns all season, 2 of which came from Darnold. While the team’s turnstile offensive line has to shoulder some of the blame, the Jets will need much better production from their running backs, especially Bell, if they want to smell relevancy this season.
Behind Bell is veteran Frank Gore, who will be playing for his third AFC East team in his 16th season, rookie La’Mical Perine, and former Eagle Josh Adams… While the Jets already know what Gore will bring to the table at this point in his career, Perine will be a player to watch during training camp for what role he’ll be playing in. Some have speculated that the Jets could use Perine almost as the Saints do with Alvin Kamara, but Perine is obviously nowhere near Kamara’s level of stardom.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
The Jets receivers were extremely underwhelming last season. Robby Anderson had his moments and Jamison Crowder put together a solid season, but most fans agreed that the Jets needed to improve their receivers and offensive line before anything else.
After losing Robby Anderson to the Panthers in free agency and being forced to cut Quincy Enunwa after multiple season ending neck injuries, their need was even more glaring than before. But after drafting former Baylor standout Denzel Mims in the second round and signing former first-round pick Breshad Perriman, the Jets receivers have been given a little face lift. The top 3 receivers for Darnold will be Crowder, Perriman, and Mims, with depth players like Chris Hogan, Vyncint Smith, and Braxton Berrios behind them. Their receivers don’t stand out as the best in the league, but the Jets have a very solid trio of receivers with different skills for Darnold to throw to.
In his first 2 seasons, Darnold has made it clear that he loves throwing to tight ends. After finding success with Ryan Griffin last season in Chris Herndon’s absence (who missed all but 1 game last season due to a suspension and an injury), Darnold will now have both Griffin and Herndon to throw to (when Griffin returns from ankle surgery that is.) Herndon played extremely well with Darnold during their rookie seasons, catching 4 touchdowns with a handful of highlight reel catches. Don’t expect any Gronkowski like numbers from Herndon or Griffin, but they can combine to form an extremely productive duo for Darnold.
The Jets offensive line last season was absolutely atrocious. They ranked 29th in sacks allowed per game and allowed Darnold to be pressured more than any other quarterback in football. The Jets were hoping for renaissances from veterans Kelechi Osemele and Ryan Kalil, but instead got a pair of season ending injuries and zero production.
The Jets knew that they needed to address their offensive line issue quickly, and they did just that. After shelling out tons of money on free agents Connor McGovern, George Fant, Gren Van Roten, and Josh Andrews. After all that spending the Jets went out and used their 11th overall pick to take one of the best offensive lineman available in the draft in Louisville standout Mekhi Becton. The Jets have put themselves in a position to get a much needed bounceback season from their offensive line.
The Jets defense was phenomenal against the run last season, finishing 2nd in the league in both yards allowed and yards per carry. That should carry into this season, as Brandon Copeland was the only defensive lineman that they lost. Henry Anderson, Quinnen Williams, and Steve McLendon are the Jets biggest contributors up front, while they will lean heavily on Avery Williamson and Jordan Jenkins to contribute at linebacker and anchor their defense as they survive without star C.J. Mosley for the entire season.
As good as their run defense was last season, they will absolutely need to get to the quarterback more this season as the Jets pass rush was incredibly mediocre last season.
The biggest change that the Jets will have to adjust to this season is the obvious loss of star Jamal Adams. Bradley McDougald will be taking over Adams’ role as the Jets starting safety and he will be playing alongside Marcus Maye. Many will focus on the the loss of Adams, but the duo of Maye and McDougald at safety is an extremely solid combination.
The thing I am least looking forward to is how the Jets cornerbacks play this season. Ever since the second departure of Darrelle Revis, the Jets have lacked a true shutdown corner on their team. Trumaine Johnson was supposed to fill that role, but he was a disaster with the Jets and lasted less than two seasons. Instead the Jets will roll out a collection of unproven talent at cornerback like Bless Austin, Brian Poole, and Pierre Desir. The Jets will be facing a lot of questions throughout training camp, and the biggest one might be their cornerback depth.
The Jets special teams started out horribly last year, and continued to be a very poor throughout the season. After kicker Kaare Vedvik missed an extra-point and a 45 yarder in a 17-16 loss to the Bills in their first game of the season, he was cut immediately afterwards and Sam Ficken was signed. Ficken was better than Vedvik, but not by much, as he missed 8 kicks and 3 extra-points in his 15 games last season. He will be the kicker heading into the season, but might have a very short leash.
Rookie Braden Mann will be taking over as the Jets punter after the team let Lachlan Edwards walk. Mann was phenomenal as a kickoff specialist and punter during his time at Texas A&M, and should carry that over to the NFL.
My Jets Team Futures Pick
The Jets will certainly miss the playoffs this season, but they aren’t one of the worst teams in the league. The offensive line should improve drastically, and in translation so should the play of Darnold and Bell. The defense might be a little iffy, but it shouldn’t be too terrible.
I think the Jets are a 7 or 8 win team at best, so taking the over at +110 is a pretty good deal. I would avoid any other bet on the Jets, as they just don’t look good enough to make any noise this season with the team they have.