Thompson’s In-Depth Power Rankings: #26 New York Jetsby Mason Thompson June 28, 2021 0 comments
The New York Jets had a very exciting offseason, filled with a new head-coaching hire, a busy free agency period, and the drafting of their new franchise signal-caller. The Jets are a far better team than they were a year ago, and Jet fans should be very excited about the future, as well as the present. New York ranks 26th in the power rankings.
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The firing of Adam Gase finally happened. After months of calling for the coach to lose his job, Jet fans finally got their wish. The search ended, and San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh as the new head coach. To pair with Saleh, the Jets brought in Mike LaFleur to be the new offensive coordinator. Both come over from the 49ers and look to implement the same schemes for the Jets this year.
Before free agency, New York entered with the second-most cap space in the league with over $73 million. The Jets were quick to use that money to build the roster up. Corey Davis took a while to produce for the Titans after being a first-round draft pick but finally had a good season last year, almost posting 1,000 yards on the season. New York gave him a three-year deal worth $37 million. New York also added Keelan Cole to the receiver room on a one-year deal worth over $5 million.
Then, the attention turned to the defensive side of the ball. Carl Lawson signed to help a pass-rush that desperately needed reinforcements. The former Bengal signed a three-year deal worth $45 million. Even though New York had a great run defense last year, Joe Douglas and company continued to add to it by signing Sheldon Rankins to a two-year contract. Jarrad Davis signed on a one-year deal to try and produce in a new defense after struggling with the Lions. Lamarcus Joyner has bounced around a few teams in recent years and comes to the Jets on a one-year deal to help out the secondary.
The Sam Darnold Saga
After the Jets used a plethora of picks to move up to the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, the selection of Darnold was supposed to be a bright one. Unfortunately, the surrounding circumstances around him led to his ultimate demise. While Douglas did put pieces around him, it seemed to be too little too late, and the damage had been done, and Darnold’s career with the Jets was over after the season, with New York having the second pick in the draft. With a loaded quarterback class ahead, Douglas and company shipped Darnold to Carolina in return for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft and second and fourth-round picks in 2022.
A Draft to Help Out the New QB
The Jets had the second as well as 23rd selection in the first round of the draft. Zach Wilson was the name leading up to the pick at number two, and he would be the pick to help kickstart a new era of Jet football. With holes along the offensive line, Douglas didn’t stand pat with the 23rd pick in the first round. Instead, he moved up nine spots, giving up their two third-round picks to select USC offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker. Vera-Tucker played both guard and tackle for the Trojans but will likely start at left guard for New York.
With LaFleur implementing a similar offense to that in San Francisco, he needed his Deebo Samuel. LaFleur may have found a player like him when the Jets wound up drafting Elijah Moore with the 34th pick overall. Moore was a top 15 player on the draft board according to New York’s draft documentary series. He joins the Jets after an excellent season at Ole Miss, where he averaged over 140 yards per game. Many expected New York to add a running back in the first round, but they waited until the fourth round to select Michael Carter, who will likely have a big role for the Jets this year.
After the first four picks were on the offensive side, the rest of the draft was used to improve the defense. Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen were safeties in college, but the hope is that Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich can help with their move to the linebacker position. The Jets added Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols to a cornerback room that needed depth. The last pick was Jonathan Marshall.
- Overall – 77.44 (26th)
- Offense – 76.63 (25th)
- Defense – 78.43 (23rd)
- Coach and Culture – 76 (T-22nd)
Quarterbacks – 78.5, 18th (26 percent Overall, 39 percent Offense)
Wilson was one of the most electrifying college prospects we have seen in a few years. His crazy playstyle with his insane arm talent and off-balanced throws can make you laugh at how insane they are. He is an uber-talented player that is in a perfect scheme for his talents and an organization that seems to be finally focused on surrounding their franchise quarterback with talent. Along with his arm talent, he has plenty of accuracy and mobility to make a name for himself in today’s NFL. Wilson is a perfect example of a quarterback that is a film junkie and loves the game. He looks like he’s having a blast at all times and the teammates around him seemed to love him. Wilson will start day one for the Jets.
Unfortunately, if something were to happen to Wilson, the season has crashed and burned. James Morgan and Mike White aren’t starting-caliber options and may not be good enough to be backups in the league. New York missed out on bringing Nick Mullens in to back up Wilson in a system he’s familiar with but could still look to add a veteran insurance policy.
Running Backs – 68, 32nd (4 percent Overall, 5 percent Offense)
The Jets come in last in the league at the running back position. That is mainly because of the lack of a true starter at the position. Tevin Coleman was signed during free agency and is familiar with the scheme LaFleur will be running. Don’t be surprised if he gets most of the starting reps once the season starts. Carter is a great late-round flier in fantasy leagues this year, thanks to his competition in the room and his receiving abilities. The coaching staff and front office love him, and he should get on the field sooner than later.
Lamical Perine was a fourth-round selection in last year’s draft that had his moments as the season wore on. The second-year pro will likely factor in on redzone touches while also competing with Ty Johnson in that same role. Josh Adams will be competing for a roster spot once again this year.
Pass Catchers – 81, 22nd (10 percent Overall, 16 percent Offense)
A year after the New York receiver room was a laughingstock, Douglas completely revamped the room. Davis will be the number one receiver for the Jets this year and is already familiar with the terminology of the new offense. Denzel Mims was a second-round pick last year and flashed at times. After being the number one receiver last year, Mims will likely be the number two receiver this year. He will fit in nicely in the new scheme and shouldn’t get the number of double teams he had towards the end of last year. Mims and Wilson could be a quarterback-receiver duo that develops into one of the best in the league.
Jamison Crowder took a pay cut to stay with the Jets this last week. This comes after a few weeks where it seemed like the two would part ways, enabling Crowder to go to another team. Now, the veteran gets to work with Wilson and LaFleur and work out of the slot while also being a teacher to the multitude of young players that New York has in their receiver room. With Crowder returning, it looks like Moore won’t have as big of a role as many thought during his rookie year. Moore will likely get a lot of manufactured touches, and the Jets would love to get him as many looks early into his career as possible.
Who Gets The Final Spots?
Cole as a fifth receiver on the Jets shows just how much depth they have on the squad. He could potentially be a second or third option on some teams. Braxton Berrios was once thought of as the next potential slot receiver and showed flashes last year, but he may be battling for a roster spot this offseason. Vyncint Smith is a friend of the program and is a deep threat but is fighting for his job this year, and it is unknown if New York will keep a seventh receiver.
It seems like we’ve been saying it’s a make-or-break year for Chris Herndon for years now. He finally showed the upside he had towards the end of last season, but he needs to stay consistent and perform better as a blocker. The Jets brought in competition for Herndon by adding Tyler Kroft. He is a much better blocker than Herndon and was a redzone threat for the Bills last year as 25 percent of his catches went for touchdowns.
Trevon Wesco was already on the team but is a perfect example of a player that LaFleur loves. He is a poor man’s Kyle Juszczyk and will play a lot of H-back for New York this year, once again. Ryan Griffin and Daniel Brown return from last year, while Kenny Yeboah joins the squad as an undrafted free agent that many people on draft twitter were in love with.
Carter will immediately be a factor in the receiving game. The former North Carolina back had 82 catches during his collegiate career, but he was splitting time with Javonte Williams during that time as well. Coleman isn’t as shifty as he used to be but could provide a similar skillset to Carter. Johnson and Perine have shown promise catching passes out of the backfield as well.
Offensive Line – 76.5, 21st (13 percent Overall, 19 percent Offense)
Douglas has completely transformed the offensive line, and it continued into this last week when the team signed Morgan Moses. He will be the starting right tackle, which was one of the biggest weaknesses on the roster heading into the season. Last year’s first-round pick Mekhi Becton looks like a star in the making, and him paired with Vera-Tucker on the left side of the offensive line is a lethal duo. Connor McGovern will man the middle of the offensive line as one of the first free-agent signings Douglas made last offseason. At right guard, there appears to be a competition between Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis for the starting job.
With Moses now slotting in at right tackle, that enables George Fant and Chuma Edoga to be backups instead of starters. Edoga was once a day two pick but hasn’t panned out since. Like Edoga, Dan Feeney was once a high draft pick for the Chargers that didn’t pan out and is resorting to a backup role in New York now. Look out for Teton Saltes to potentially grab one of the final roster spots as an undrafted free agent that many liked on Draft Twitter.
Overall, Douglas has reshaped the offense as a whole, including the offensive line especially.
Run Defense – 90, 5th (2 percent Overall, 5 percent Defense)
New York has consistently had a great run defense. Despite being on the losing end of most games last year, the run defense was one of the lone bright spots on a team devoid of anything to make them look good. Quinnen Williams has shown a lot of development since his drafting, but the lead man in this role is Folorunso Fatukasi. The two make up perhaps the best interior defensive line duo in the league. Rankins is more of a pass-rusher than a run defender but offers great depth in this regard. Nathan Shepherd had a good season in 2020 and posted career highs in tackles, quarterback hits, and sacks. Marshall was the last pick the Jets made in the draft and will likely have a hard time making it onto the field with the depth on the interior of the defensive line.
Lawson isn’t the best run defender in the league by any means and could lose snaps to Kyle Phillips and Ronald Blair on first downs. Blair was brought in during free agency and is very familiar with Saleh and the scheme after being with the 49ers the last few seasons. John Franklin-Myers has been used frequently in pass-rush situations but won’t factor in much on running downs but could get an uptick in production under Saleh and the new scheme. Bryce Huff and Hamilcar Rashed Jr have been two undrafted free agents in the last two years that are great pass-rushers but need some refinement in their run defense. Phillips and Blair will likely get most of the early snaps in run-defending.
Since signing with the Jets before the 2019 season, C.J. Mosley has only played in two games. In 2019, he missed the final 14 games due to an injury and opted out before the 2020 season. If he can return to his Baltimore form, New York is finally getting their man in the middle of the defense. Outside of Mosley, there isn’t anyone that sticks out. Jarrad Davis is a physical specimen that couldn’t get it all figured out in Detroit, and Saleh is hoping he can get the most out of him finally. Blake Cashman is finally looking to put his injury problems past him and be one of the better young linebackers in the game. Staying healthy is the biggest concern with Cashman.
Beyond those three, things get very questionable. Sherwood and Nasirildeen are coverage players at the second level and not run-defenders by any means.
The run defense is the best unit as a whole and finished fourth last year, without Mosley and many other players. Under Saleh, the group could even finish first in the league.
Pass Rush – 80, 20th (12 percent Overall, 25 percent Defense)
Lawson comes over and will be the number one edge rusher on the squad this season. The Jets are hoping he can stay healthy and give him the production they are hoping for after giving him a large contract. Franklin-Myers had a solid season last year and will likely be a starter on the other side of Lawson. He had three sacks last year to go along with his 13 quarterback hits.
After a disappointing rookie campaign, Williams turned it on last year. The former third overall selection finished the year with seven sacks. The Jets are hoping to get more consistent production from him going into his third season, and Saleh is the man to get the most out of the young player. With Saleh at the helm, watch for Williams to take a massive step forward and turn into the likes of Kenny Clark in the middle of the defensive line as a dominant disruptive force in both the run game and pass rush. Rankins had an eight-sack season in 2018, and the Jets are hoping to have him in a great interior rotation. Fatukasi, Blair, and Vinny Curry will likely factor in.
Watch for the young duo of Huff and Rashed to make some noise this year. In 14 games last year, Huff had 14 tackles, four quarterback hits, and two sacks as an undrafted free agent. Rashed shouldn’t have gone undrafted, and Douglas and company were smart to scoop him up following the draft.
Linebackers – 75.5, 25th (5 percent Overall, 13 percent Defense)
The Jets are hoping Mosley comes back from his injury and hope his extra year off hasn’t done much to his production. From a coverage standpoint, Mosley is solid. If Cashman can finally stay healthy, the Jets found a steal in the 2019 draft. He has shown flashes, but the injuries are mounting up for him yet again. Davis should do better than he did in Detroit in Saleh’s scheme, but that is still a question mark. There are a lot of questions about the main three, including Mosley.
Behind those three, the depth drops off greatly. Sherwood and Nasirildeen are coverage specialists that will likely line up as WILL linebackers this year. Sherwood is a great tackler, but his athletic profile is a bit worrisome following his 4.76 40-yard dash time. Outside of these five, there isn’t much to talk about.
Secondary – 74.5, 25th (13 percent Overall, 27 percent Defense)
Unfortunately, the downfall of the defense lies in the secondary, specifically at the cornerback spot. Bryce Hall was once thought of as a potential first-round pick but fell to the fifth round due to injuries. He will likely be the number one cornerback this year and should develop nicely this year under Saleh. Blessuan Austin had a great rookie season in 2019, but last year got bullied almost every time the ball was thrown at him. Javelin Guidry is perfect in the slot as an undrafted free agent from the 2020 class and had four forced fumbled in 11 games last year.
Like Guidry, Lamar Jackson was another undrafted free agent and is not a player you want to see the field as the fourth option. Pinnock could battle with Austin for the number two cornerback role, along with Echols, who has all of the athletic tools but needs to be taught up a bit. Echols will be a factor immediately on special teams. Carter could factor in with Guidry in the slot as well.
Justin Hardee is one of the best special teams players in the league and likely won’t find a role in the cornerback room. Corey Ballentine hasn’t produced since being selected in the supplemental draft.
Keep an eye out on one name to bring to the cornerback room. That name is Richard Sherman. The room is very young and devoid of a true number one cornerback, so Sherman would be an excellent signing that is familiar with Saleh and the scheme.
Marcus Maye is the main reason this ranking is as high as it is. Maye is debatably a top-ten safety in the league and is playing on the franchise tag this year. It will be a massive surprise if Douglas doesn’t sign Maye to a long-term extension following the season, if not before. Ashtyn Davis is similar to Maye skillset-wise. He has great tackling ability and can play single-high if need be. Joyner will likely factor in as the slot cornerback as well as a free safety. The Raiders didn’t play Joyner as a safety, where he fits best. Don’t be surprised if the Jets deploy all three on the field at the same time. Sharrod Neasman and J.T. Hassell are the only other two worth mentioning.
Overall, the secondary is a lot of unknown right now from a ton of young players. The Jets are hoping for big jumps from Hall, Davis, and Austin specifically in the group.
Coach and Culture – 76, T-22nd (15 percent Overall, 21 percent Offense, 30 percent Defense)
After many articles went out without the Jets being unveiled, one specific person has become upset. You know who you are. The reason why the Jets are so high in the power rankings is because of the culture being put in place by Douglas and the coaching staff. LaFleur was brought in to conduct an offense centered around Wilson. Not only did they select Wilson, but Douglas surrounded him with talent along the offensive line along with the weapons at his disposal. A mix of young and veteran players are on the offense, but the additions of Moses and Davis are some of the biggest. Crowder staying plays a pivotal role in the development of Wilson and the other receivers in the building. New York ranks 28th in offensive coach and culture.
Saleh is a dominant defensive coach. He is fiery on the sideline but will attend to his player’s every need, as seen in the draft documentary the Jets posted on YouTube. A young defense will be coached up by both him and Ulbrich to make sure the defense is the best unit it can be, led by its strong defensive line. The secondary will be the main problem for the defense, so adding a veteran like Sherman would be an excellent idea. The Jets rank 16th in defensive coach and culture.
With a young team and a new coaching staff, the Jets are sure to have some growing pains this year. In the first game of the season, the Jets go to face Darnold and the Jets in a revenge game. Against New England at home, the Jets have an advantage with their great run defense against a Patriots team that will likely be running the ball a ton in the first few weeks. A three-week stretch against the Broncos, Titans, and Falcons is a blend of different skillsets team-wise that will hurt the Jet secondary. A four-week stretch against the Patriots, Bengals, Colts, and Bills will be one of the hardest of the season.
In the second half of the schedule, things lighten up a bit with games against the Dolphins, Texans, and Eagles in Weeks 11-13. Unfortunately, the end of the season is rough against Miami again, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Buffalo.
According to Odds Shark, the Jets have an over/under of six wins. Though the prediction doesn’t agree with it, I would take the over. The culture shift finally has made its way to New York, and a coaching staff paired with a front office that finally has built a good roster is here. The Jets have a bright future, but they could endure some growing pains throughout the 2020 season.
Season Prediction: 5-12
*NOTE* Some teams higher in the rankings will have worse records than others. The rankings aren’t based upon the record but the overall talent of the roster.