These last two weekends of playoff football have given me that playoff football itch that us New York Jets fans haven’t experienced in seven whole years. The closest we got was a snowy, frigid Buffalo Sunday two years ago when Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the Jets playoff chances directly to Bills defenders not once, not twice, but three times. It’s been a long time coming so lets play the hypothetical game and build a team that gets the Jets to the playoffs.
2018 QBs #Jets will face: Brady 2x, Rodgers, Watson, Luck, Mariota, Stafford, Trubisky, Tannehill 2x
Keenum (likely), Denver new QB (Cousins/Allen/Mayfield?), Buffalo new QB (Rudolph/Smith?), Cleveland new QB (Darnold?), Bortles
Interesting, potentially very tough list
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) January 15, 2018
Let’s base this whole piece off of the assumption that the above holds true and the Jets will face those opposing quarterbacks in 2018.
We are also assuming they make the obvious moves of cutting Muhammad Wilkerson, Matt Forte and Ben Ijalana to free up cap space. We are also assuming the Jets bring back Demario Davis, Morris Claiborne and Austin Seferian-Jenkins.
Sign Kirk Cousins at any cost
If the Jets have any hope of reaching the playoffs next season, first and foremost they’re going to need to back the Brinks truck up right to Kirk Cousins’ front door and not let him leave until he takes the Jets offer. If he hits free agency, the Jets have the cap space to not only sign him but to also sign complimentary pieces for him on offense, improve their offensive line and fix their holes on defense.
If the Jets sign Cousins they’ll have the quarterback advantage in most of their matchups next season. The only matchups they wouldn’t have that advantage would be against the Patriots (Brady), Packers (Rodgers) and Colts (if Luck is healthy). The Texans are close with Watson but we’ll see how he returns from his injury. Going into 2018 knowing you’ll have the advantage at quarterback in 75% of your games is a damn good start. He also sets you up not just for a playoff run next season but will for however long you sign him for.
Sign Ezekial Ansah
Ansah will most likely be the most expensive edge rusher in this free agency class but you need to fill your need at edge rusher and Ansah is the best in his class. He had 12 sacks last season (even though six came in the final two games) and is a big guy. He has the ability to rush outside or inside and is a twitchy 6’6″ beast. The Jets can address this need in the draft but getting a solidified edge in free agency like Ansah is a better bet to make the playoffs in 2018.
Sign Trumaine Johnson
I expect the Jets to bring back Morris Claiborne on a friendly prove it deal. He flashed signs of excellence but once again had an injury plagued season this season. Buster Skrine is better as a nickel corner and signing Johnson puts him in his natural position.
Johnson will be coveted by a lot of teams but the luxury the Jets will have is the amount of money they can shell out. He forces turnovers (18 interceptions in six season) and is one of the best cover corners in the league. He’s a guy that’ll punch you in the mouth and go about his day. At 28, he’s on the older side of corners but in 2018 he gives you the best option at corner.
Sign Allen Robinson
One of the selling points the Jets have to give to Kirk Cousins is the ability to get him weapons. If Allen Robinson shakes free from the Jaguars, which I expect him to, he would be a very good fit in New York. With Blake Bortles as his quarterback in 2015, he went for 80-1400-14. His numbers dipped two seasons ago due to Bortles’ play and he tore his ACL in the first game of this season. That might be enough to get him at a friendly price. A receiving core of Robinson-Anderson-Enunwa-Kearse has the chance to be very, very scary and should light up Cousins’ eyes.
Sign Ryan Jensen
Really anybody besides Wesley Johnson is an upgrade at this position. The Jets offensive line struggled last season mostly due to the fact that they were playing with only four offensive linemen. The Ravens had a top 10 offensive line in terms of pass protection with Ryan Jensen commanding the crew. He could come relatively cheap and can be the fix to the Jets offensive line woes.
Draft Saquon Barkley, RB, Penn State (R1, P6)
Listen, LISTEN. If the Jets are looking to make the playoffs next season, taking the most talented player in the draft with the sixth pick is a good thing. Barkley can do it all. He’s an explosive runner, he has very good hands and has the ability to make guys miss at the next level. Think Bilal Powell on steroids. He might not make it to six, but if he’s there you can’t pass up on a talent like him.
Draft Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville (R2, P37)
He’s a smaller corner but he fits Todd Bowles’ mold for corner. He’s physical and he’s good in man coverage. He does have injury concerns that drop his draft stock. He should be good for next season and if Morris Claiborne continues his trend of playing only 60% of seasons healthy, Alexander can be a fix to fill in next season opposite Johnson and keep Skrine in the nickel.
Draft Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Edge, Oklahoma (R2, P49)
This might be a bit of a long shot where the Jets are drafting but what’s better than one edge rusher? Another edge rusher! He can play three downs and has very good moves when getting to the quarterback. He’s as athletic as any edge in this draft and while he’s a smaller than most edge rushers in this draft, he uses it to his advantage in leverage and has long arms to ward off linemen. Again, a long shot at this pick but he can make an impact day one for the Jets.
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