After some big wins in Free Agency, Nick Ballistreri shares his Over/Under pick for the New York Jets Win Total
It has been 8 long seasons since the New York Jets have played in a playoff game. Since that time, they have been through countless quarterbacks, coaches, and skill players trying to make this thing work. The Jets went into the offseason with a Brinks truck filled with cash, ready to pay some players. They did just that, making some key additions on top of adding new Head Coach, Adam Gase. For the first time in a couple of seasons, there are some real expectations for Gang Green.
The Jets are lead on offense by 2nd year QB Sam Darnold. Darnold, the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, started most of his rookie season to mixed results. Darnold finished the 2018 campaign with 2,865 passing yards, 17 TDs and 15 Interceptions, while completing only 57.7% of his passes. Now on the surface, those numbers are flat out ugly. However, there are a number of things to keep in mind.
The Jets did not give Darnold time to learn on the bench, as they threw him into the fire in Week 1. And while it was clear at times that Darnold may not have been ready, this will be beneficial to him in the long run. The offensive line was also putrid, giving Darnold no time and the running backs little lanes to run through. With the situation in front of him, it should come as no surprise that Darnold struggled through his rookie season.
After a season in which Isaiah Crowell was the bellcow at running back, the Jets decided it was time to think big. Remember Le’Veon Bell? Bell, one of the best running backs in the NFL, sat out the 2018 season due to a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers. It’s up in the air whether this was a smart move by Bell, but he got what he wanted, as he signed a big 4-year deal with New York in the offseason.
I love the Bell signing for a few reasons. As stated, Bell is a stud in the backfield. His running style helps him find holes that other running backs simply cannot find. He is also one of the best pass-catching backs in the league; another key for helping Darnold get comfortable. The last season Bell played, he ran for 1,291 yards and 9 touchdowns, while also catching 85 passes. 85! Bell will open up the offense in so many ways for the Jets and Darnold.
The Jets receivers, to put it kindly, also struggled in 2018. Are you noticing a trend here? That being said, the depth chart at receiver is looking better than it has in years. The team went out and signed one of the best slot receivers in football, Jamison Crowder in free agency. With returning receivers Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa returning, the Jets have a top 3 at receiver that can compete. With the speedy Anderson taking the tops off of defenses, and Crowder running through the seams, this offense has the looks that it can take a huge jump.
Lastly, the Jets worked hard to improve their offensive line. They swung a trade with the Oakland Raiders for All-Pro Guard Kelechi Osemele, and signed Center Ryan Kalil, who came out of retirement specifically to play for the Jets. They made some other depth moves to shore up the line, as they are now covered if injuries ravage them again. With an improved offensive line, look for Darnold to stay much cleaner in the pocket this season, and Bell to have plenty of holes up front.
Gone are the days of the Jets having one of the best defenses in the league. The Jets are 25th in total defense in 2018, and gave up an average of 27.6 points per game. Ugly.
Things should be much improved this season. The Jets are lucky enough to have one of the best all-around safeties in the game, Jamal Adams. Adams makes things happen on the backend, and entering just his 3rd season, look for him to continue to improve. The Jets are also expecting big things from his counterpart at safety Marcus Maye. Maye has struggled to stay healthy over his career, but the team picked him in the 2nd round a couple of seasons ago for a reason, and are optimistic about his play.
The Jets also went out and made one of the biggest linebacker signings in history. They signed CJ Mosley from the Baltimore Ravens to a massive 5-year, $85 million contract, with $51 million guaranteed. Mosley is no slouch. He’s a massive inside linebacker who makes things happen, and has played in 4 pro bowls. It was an expensive investment, but the Jets felt it was worth it. We’ll see.
The Jets also had the 3rd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, and used it to take DL Quinnen Williams out of USC. Many feel that Williams was the most talented player in this draft, and the Jets were ecstatic to have him fall to #3. Pair up Williams with talented, but underachieving DL Leonard Williams, and the Jets have the potential to have a very strong, young defensive line. After giving up almost 28 points a game last season, anything will be an improvement.
Jets Over/Under Pick
Draftkings has set the Jets O/U at 7.5. After a season in which the Jets finished 4-12, this seems high. However, expectations are rightly elevated for the Jets this season. The season falls on Sam Darnold’s shoulders. He was the #3 pick in the draft just 2 seasons ago, and entering his 2nd season, he is looking to make a big jump. With an improved offensive line, a better running game, and more weapons to throw to, expect Darnold to enter the conversation for one of the best young passers in football.
Defensively, the Jets have talent. While they won’t be a top 5 defense, top 12 feels realistic for this group…if they play up to their talent level. Injuries can always make this defense take a backseat, as they are already dealing with a season ending injury to LB Avery Williamson. However, with the additions they made, and the return of Maye on the backend, the Jets have reason to think this defense will at least keep them in games.
The Jets finally fired Todd Bowles, and this frankly felt like it was years too late. Bowles was hired as a defensive coach, until it was proven he can’t run a defense in New York. The Jets turned the page and hired Adam Gase from Miami. While Gase was not wildly successful, he had a decent tenure in Miami. He is also known to develop QB’s very well, as this had to be a key in them signing him as well, as they hope he can develop Darnold.
The hope is that Gase can get the best out of this offense, and reports from training camp are already looking good. With weapons on offense, he needs to find ways to make this work.
7.5 is a really tough number for me. To take the over, I would be saying the Jets are 4 games better than last season. I’m not sure that’s the case, but let me explain why it just might be. With all the additions, the Jets clearly have a better roster than last year’s disaster. Also, the schedule is very generous. The AFC East, with the exception of the Patriots, is far from a powerhouse. The Bills and Dolphins struggle to compete, so the Jets would like to have at least 3 wins from that group. Fielding a last place schedule will help their cause as well, as the Jets will play the Jaguars, Raiders, and Bengals as well. While this is by no means my most confident pick, I am going with the Over 7.5. Let’s see if Darnold backs me up.