Josh Livi | January 10th, 2020
The New York Jets had a pretty monster offseason. Bringing in Le’Veon Bell, C.J. Mosley, and Adam Gase. There were a lot of high hopes for gang green. It was a pretty rough beginning however as the Jets began the season 2-8 in their first 10 games. Jets lost a heart breaker to the winless 0-9 Miami Dolphins team and then lost later in the season to the 0-12 Cincinnati Bengals.
This Jets season had a little bit of everything. It had “the good, the bad and the ugly”. Jets had everything from Sam Darnold getting mono, to losing our star linebacker during the second preseason game, to Gase being the laughing stock of New York. All in all, after the loss to the Bengals, the Jets finished the season fairly strong winning the next three out of four games and finishing the season on a high note. Beating the New York Giants, Washington Redskins, and Oakland Raiders in the process.
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What Went Right
The Jets had a pretty interesting season. First of all, they brought in generational talented superstar Bell. They signed him to a four year $52.5M contract! The deal has a max value of $61 million and includes $35 million guaranteed. They also brought in star linebacker Mosley to help revamp the defense. He was also signed to a massive contract for five years $85 million. The next big time “addition” was bringing in quarterback guru Gase as their next head coach to help Darnold take the next step forward and becoming a franchise quarterback.
The Jets finished with a record of 7-9 in 2019, which was good for third in the AFC East. Although the record doesn’t look pretty, they did finish the season going 6-2 during their last eight games. Gase got a hold of this coaching business during that stretch. Bell was beginning to be used as a workhorse back under Gase, albeit sporadically, and Darnold put together some beautiful performances. Bell still managed to have at least 10 carries in every game this season except one and ended up receiving more work as the season progressed. Darnold looked a lot more comfortable even though the Jets lack offensive-linemen, deep threats, and hardly any real playmakers. Darnold did find a new weapon in Ryan Griffin who came out of nowhere and was stuffing the stat sheet week in and week out.
There was a lot of buzz and chatter right before the NFL trade deadline, surrounding star players on the Jets. Players who were being mentioned were, Bell and star safety, Jamal Adams. Thankfully, they both stayed, and the Jets looked a lot more competent as the season progressed.
What Went Wrong
What could go wrong, went wrong early on in the season for the Jets. Gase was already under a lot of scrutiny, due to his hilarious and pretty pathetic press conference when they were introducing him. He looked like a complete fool, who had no idea how to coach football, let alone in the NFL. A lot of people felt that Gase is the one to put Darnold over the top, but that didn’t go too well.
After just one week, Darnold got diagnosed with mono, and that caused him to miss up to five weeks. The Jets had Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk playing quarterback during Darnold’s absence. Yes, Falk was playing meaningful snaps in the NFL as the starting quarterback for the Jets. The opposing defenses knew to zone in, stack the box and not let Bell beat them, and that’s exactly what they did. Bell struggled mightly during the five game absence of Darnold. To make matters worse, the Jets players were dropping like flies.
During the second preseason game, Avery Williamson tore his ACL against the Atlanta Falcons. Mosley, who was a big time free agent signing, injured his groin during a week one showdown with the Buffalo Bills. He came back week seven but re-injured his groin and that forced him to miss the rest of the season.
There was also a lot of hype surrounding second year tight end Chris Herndon IV. Herndon showed plenty of flashes in 2018, but 2019 was a year to forget. He played in only one game due to rib and hamstring injuries. Griffin flashed big play potential, before ultimately falling victim to the injury bug. His season ended prematurely as well due to an ankle injury. All these factors played into the Jets not having the type of season we had all hoped for. Let’s hope for bigger and better in the year 2020.
Outlook for the Offseason
I was personally hoping the Jets would fire every single coach, and bring in a more competent professional. However, the Jets front office has already decided to bring back Gase for another season in the year 2020 so let’s see how that plays out. The Jets have $57.5 million in cap space for the 2020 season and I expect them to make some moves. Bringing in players to revamp the offensive line, and a weapon for Darnold is a must. Bell is currently under contract, but bringing him back should be on top of their list, same with Adams. You want to build around the core of star players you have, not trade them away.
The Team’s Free Agents
The Jets don’t have many impact free agents if any at all. Robby Anderson had a pretty decent season under Gase with Darnold feeding him the ball. He was the Jets number one wideout this past year. I doubt the Jets bring him back though, as he has already stated he wants to test out free agency. He is looking in the line of $12 million a year. With only $57.5 million in cap space, I do expect the Jets to let him go.
Other names to monitor for the Jets are Bilal Powell, Kelvin Beachum, Jordan Jenkins, and Brian Poole. None of these players are going to be receiving a franchise tag from the Jets, but it is interesting to see what they will be doing with these players as well as star players Bell and Adams if they trade them this offseason or not.
Open Market Free Agent
A few big time receivers are available in the open market this offseason. Amari Cooper, A.J. Green, Emmanuel Sanders, Randall Cobb, and Devin Funchess. The Jets lack weapons on the outside and only have Jamison Crowder in the slot. With Anderson testing free agency, the Jets need a big time name. Besides receivers, the Jets need offensive line help.
Offensive linemen who can help are players such as Jason Peters, Brandon Scherff, and Spencer Long. I would really love for the Jets to sign Cooper. Signing Cooper could be a massive move for the wide receiver needy Jets. They seriously need to address the offensive line. Protecting Darnold at all costs in 2020 with receivers and the offensive line has to be the Jets’ the top priority.
Projecting the NFL Draft
Entering the 2020 draft, the Jets have three picks in the first three rounds. Picks number 11, 48 and 68. Let’s take a look at some of the Jets needs heading into April and see what they might do with their selections.
Round 1, pick 11: Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa
I really want to see the Jets grab Wirfs as he is arguably the second or third best offensive tackle in the draft. With Wirfs, he can open up massive holes for Bell to thrive, and give Darnold ample time to throw. Most importantly, protecting him.
Round 2, Pick 48: KJ Hamler, WR, Penn State
I would like the Jets to get a receiver to help open up the field for Darnold and possibly give him a new weapon. Looking at Hamler, who is a speedy wideout, he could do a lot of damage, especially if Anderson does leave for free agency.
Round 3, Pick 68: Benito Jones, DT, Mississippi State
I would like the Jets to select a defensive tackle and help bolster our defense. Looking at player Jones, he can attack the rusher, cover up the holes, and can move for a big guy. He plays angry and with a lot of intensity and that’s what can make a big difference for this team. With Jones, a healthy Williamson, and Mosley, that trio could cause chaos in the backfield for any opposing team.
With $57.5 million in cap space to spend in offseason free agency, they should be able to fill their holes. I expect they will get a number one wide receiver, an offensive tackle, and to fill some of the holes in our defense. A lot of our players are coming back from an injury-plagued season, so that will help a lot for next year. Be sure to keep an eye out on players like Cooper as he can make a huge difference and alter any draft plans the Jets have.
Herndon should have a much better year next year (barring an injury).With a healthy Herndon, that gives Darnold another big safety net which could help his production next year. Bell will be treated like a workhorse and be given the ball 30 plus times a game and that will make a huge difference for this football team. I think Jets finish with a 9-7 record next year good for second in the AFC East.
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