The New York Jets started the 2017 season by starting 1-7. Over their next eight games though, they went 6-2 to finish the season 7-9. It was ultimately an up-and-down year for the Jets behind Adam Gase, who somehow remains the head coach. Sam Darnold was hot-and-cold the whole year and needs to be more consistent for the Jets to reach the playoffs this year. Le’Veon Bell‘s addition didn’t prove to be worthwhile as he failed to eclipse 1,000 yards last year. The defense led by Gregg Williams was the main reason why the Jets even won seven games last year and will be another unit worth watching this year.
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The Jets came into free agency with a good amount of cap space, yet elected to not retain Robby Anderson. Anderson was the deep threat on the Jets offense and the front office had to replace him now. New York retained Jordan Jenkins, Neville Hewitt, James Burgess, and Arthur Maulet which keeps a solid defense in place. To replace Anderson, the Jets opted to pick up Breshad Perriman who had a breakout to close out last season for Tampa Bay.
The Jets offensive line was horrendous last year. Brandon Shell, Brian Winters, Tom Compton, Kelvin Beachum, and Brent Qvale were all starters at one point last year, all of which are on different teams this year. Instead, the Jets followed in the footsteps of their divisional counterparts by adding plenty of options on the offensive line and holding positional battles along the offensive line, like the Buffalo Bills did last year. The Jets added George Fant, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and Josh Andrews to compete on the offensive line. Joe Flacco was brought in to tutor Darnold while also providing veteran insurance if Darnold were to get hurt. Pierre Desir was added late in the offseason after he was surprisingly cut from Indianapolis.
The NFL draft brought plenty of optimism for the Jets. With their first-round choice, they continued to try and fix their offensive line by selecting Mekhi Becton who will immediately start at left tackle. The selection of Denzel Mims in the second round gives Darnold another weapon at his disposal as the front office tries to see if he’s the quarterback of the future. Ashtyn Davis was a bit of a luxury pick in the third round until Jamal Adams asked for a trade and Marcus Maye is in the last year of his contract. Jabari Zuniga will factor in as a pass-rusher early as the rotation is one of the worst in the league. The Jets got a steal in the fifth round as they selected Bryce Hall. He was potentially a first-round pick before an injury derailed his senior season and impacted his draft process.
Ultimately, Adams was traded. Seattle gave the Jets an offer they couldn’t refuse which included Adams and a fourth-round pick in 2022 in exchange for a first and third-round pick this year, a first-round pick next year, and safety Bradley McDougald. The draft picks are great and all but McDougald is a starting-caliber safety as well.
This offense is going to revolve around the development of Darnold. There were multiple instances last year where he showed he could be one of the best quarterbacks in the game like against Dallas. He also had horrific moments, most notably the “seeing ghosts” game against New England. He didn’t get any help from the rushing attack last year and the offensive line was horrific. Now with plenty of additions across the offensive line to make it at least mediocre, Darnold should be able to improve upon last season. Bell should improve from last year and the additions of Mims and Perriman at the receiver spot should benefit the offense as a whole. Unfortunately, Gase is still the head coach which brings a lot of the optimism back down to earth.
The defense led the team last year. The run defense ranked in the top-five in the league and Williams is one of the best defensive coordinators in the game. The loss of Adams and the fact C.J. Mosley opted out will hinder this team. The addition of McDougald will lessen the blow of Adams while Blake Cashman and Patrick Onwuasor do the same with the departure of Mosley. The pass-rush needs desperate help but didn’t get many reinforcements besides the third-round selection of Zuniga. The front seven needs some help but the back-end has a ton of depth. The trio of McDougald, Maye, and Davis provides the Jets with three solid safeties and they have an abundance of cornerbacks that play great in the defensive scheme.
Predicting the 53 Man Roster
This could be a make-or-break year for Darnold as they have finally given him weapons and a serviceable offensive line. It’s time for him to become more consistent and show the franchise why they traded up to select him. Flacco is the veteran insurance policy the Jets needed while Morgan makes the roster over David Fales.
This group could change in the next few days. Bell and Gore are locked in to make the team but Perine suffered an injury earlier this week. The Jets originally traded for Kalen Ballage before the trade fell through due to Ballage failing his physical. He will be released and the Jets could likely pick him up once he’s released.
Crowder has been the safety-valve for Darnold since he’s entered the league. Mims could become the number one receiver in this offense for years to come and Perriman is a true deep-threat. Hogan was added recently to add another veteran to a group that needed depth. Smith is a height-weight-speed prospect who showed strides last year and Berrios is the backup to Crowder in the slot. Keep an eye on Lawrence Cager.
Herndon needs to stay healthy for the offense to run on all cylinders. He has the potential to be one of the best tight ends in the league if only he could stay healthy and not get suspended. Griffin had five touchdowns in Herndon’s absence and is a true red-zone threat. Wesco is more of a fullback in the scheme but he’s listed as a tight end.
The offensive line needs to be much better than last year and the five projected starters are all different from last year. Fant, Clark, and Edoga will likely battle for the right tackle spot. Van Roten, Lewis, Andrews, and Harrison could all battle for either guard spot. The only two spots that seem settled are left tackle and center.
McLendon is truly a run-stuffer at heart. He’s one of the main reasons why the run defense is so good. Williams needs to step it up after being the third overall pick last year. Anderson and Fatukasi are great against the run and provide to the depth across the defensive line. Phillips and Shepherd are also great depth pieces.
Jenkins led the team with eight sacks last year. Basham lines up opposite of Jenkins and had two sacks last year. Zuniga will likely battle with the Bashem for that slot opposite Jenkins. Huff was undrafted but could make the roster as he has impressed Williams. This group drastically brings the defense down and it would be beneficial for the Jets if they kicked the tires on bringing in Jadeveon Clowney.
Williamson is the true number one linebacker now that Mosley won’t be playing this year. Cashman and Onwuasor will battle for that second spot but will both be getting plenty of playing time. Cashman is the complete linebacker the Jets need. Hewitt and Burgess played well last year when they were thrust into the lineup due to injuries.
While the names might not be familiar, they are solid. Desir and Austin will be the starters on the outside with Poole being the starting nickel. Maulet was a starter last year for the Jets and had two interceptions. He will take a rotational role now with Desir being added to the fold. Wilson was once a high-draft pick from the Colts but never panned out. Guidry gets the final spot due to Hall’s injury. Guidry will likely find a role early on special teams.
With the trade of Adams, the attention now turns to this group. McDougald has proven to be a solid starting safety and the Jets should be thankful they were able to get him in the trade. Maye will likely be splitting time with Davis this year and the three could be on the field at the same time in dime packages. With Maye’s contract up after this year, Davis needs to show he is ready to step in a starting role sooner rather than later.
Ficken won the kicker job over Brett Maher in camp. Mann was selected in the sixth round to come in and switch the field position and Hennessy returns for another year.
Douglas has the Jets pointing in the right direction, although it won’t all come to fruition this year. The schedule is horrific from the start with games against Buffalo, San Francisco, Indianapolis, and Denver. The schedule doesn’t get much easier either. This year is all about seeing any sort of development from Darnold. Hopefully, Douglas also sees the team is much better off with someone else other than Gase as the head coach as well.
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