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The New York Jets have improved their roster throughout this offseason, however what are the areas of their team that still need to be improved? Here is a completely subjective ranking of them….
1 – Quarterback – Fortunately this is going to be remedied in 27 days, hopefully by either Josh Rosen or Baker Mayfield. As it stands today, the Jets have a 39 year old journeyman who is probably better suited to be their quarterback coach and a player who hasn’t taken a meaningful snap since 2015. In the best case scenario, the Jets rookie AND Bridgewater play well in the preseason, Bridgewater is traded for a draft pick, the rookie starts week one and McCown is the backup.
Yes, the Jets rookie should start from week one. Let’s get the learning and development process started immediately so this team is ready to compete in 2019, similar to how the Rams and Eagles were in the second year of Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, after both started (and struggled) their rookie years. It is the exception (Aaron Rodgers, Jimmy Garoppolo) not the rule that a young quarterback benefits from sitting on the bench. You learn by playing, not by watching. Rosen or Mayfield (hopefully) should follow in the process steps of Wentz, Goff, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Derek Carr, Andrew Luck, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford and others who started the majority or the entirety of their rookie season.
2 – Linebacker – You can mesh together linebacker and defensive line to just put pass rusher but for the purpose of this article, let’s break them apart. Right now the Jets project to start Avery Williamson and Darron Lee at inside linebacker, which is probably about a league average duo. At outside linebacker, they have Jordan Jenkins who is a decent complimentary player followed by Josh Martin who is best served as a role player and then Lorenzo Mauldin and Dylan Donahue, two players it is hard to expect anything from. They did add backups at both linebacker spots in Kevin Pierre-Louis and Brandon Copeland to help with depth but overall this unit lacks a game changer and anybody who you could reasonably project to having more than 4-5 sacks.
3 – Defensive Line – It is crazy to think this position is now listed so high but with the current depth chart, it needs to be. Leonard Williams is one of the best young defensive ends in football and Steve McLendon is a solid nose tackle but it gets fairly thin after that. Both Mike Pennel and Xavier Cooper showed promise in limited roles last season and now will be given more responsibility. After those four, there isn’t anybody with any type of real NFL experience. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Jets ultimately brought Kony Ealy back.
4 – Coaching – Todd Bowles has been about a C- so far as the Jets Head Coach (I give Mike Maccagnan the same grade to date as a GM). He must become more aggressive and smooth out his game management issues. The Jets cannot keep being the team who punts from their opponent’s 41 yard line on 4th and 2 or burns all their timeouts in the third quarter.
At Offensive Coordinator, Jeremy Bates is walking in with high expectations despite a thin resume. He will have a challenging task of likely constructing an offense around a rookie quarterback with only an average offensive line in front of him. At Defensive Coordinator, nobody is really sure what Kacy Rodgers does but hopefully the Jets are creative with how they scheme getting after the quarterback considering the defensive line/linebacker depth chart.
5 – Offensive Line Depth – The Jets staring unit has potential to be average to slightly above average if Spencer Long, Brian Winters and Brandon Shell can stay healthy for 16 games. The depth is a little concerning, as Ben Ijalana has struggled when given extended playing time (he is the top backup at tackle) and the top interior backup now is Jonotthan Harrison who was pretty good in limited duty at center last year. The Jets are likely to bring back Dakota Dozier as a backup at guard. Ultimately, the Jets are going to be reliant on three players who struggled with injuries last year staying healthy which can be a risky proposition.
6 – Internal Scouting – We saw signs of progress on this over the offseason by the Jets not going out of their way to overpay eminently replaceable starters like Demario Davis and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Let’s hope the progress continues by doing things like not wasting everybody’s time with four or five quarterbacks in camp or on the roster (admit your mistake with Christian Hackenberg and cut your losses) and by being aggressive post NFL Draft on filling remaining problem spots on the roster.
7 – Tight End – As it stands now, Eric Tomlinson, Jordan Leggett and Neal Sterling is the depth chart. The reason this isn’t higher is because the Jets may not use a tight end all that much in Bates’ offense or they may regularly utilize Quincy Enunwa in a H-Back role, while allowing Tomlinson to focus on blocking from a traditional Y alignment.
8 – Cornerback – The signing of Trumaine Johnson provided a huge shot of talent to this group and allows Morris Claiborne to slide into a role better suited to his skill set. However, the Jets are still going to be starting walking penalty Buster Skrine as their nickel back and have limited depth if Claiborne’s health becomes an issue. Daryl Roberts is fine as a fourth corner but Juston Burris cannot handle extended playing time and everybody else on the bottom of the depth chart is a huge question mark. One more body here wouldn’t hurt, especially with Claiborne’s history.
9 – “Weapons” – If Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa are available, the Jets should feel good about their collection of receivers and running backs. Another back with home run ability would be nice and could potentially be found on day two or three of the NFL Draft.
10 – Expectations – We have written about this at length before but the Jets must eradicate the culture of being satisfied with not being completely awful but still not being good. Going 5-11 last season was not an accomplishment. It was going 5-11. The Jets are 10-23 over their last 33 games. They need to win more and not be satisfied with talking points around a “plan” and “culture” in the midst of another 5 win season.
11 – Media – This is minor but very fixable. The Jets need to do a better job of communicating about their public messaging. Nobody expects them to show their hand and be forthcoming with the media about football decisions but avoid having your owner say Todd Bowles isn’t involved in a personnel decision, followed by the GM saying he is involved in a personnel decision, followed by Bowles saying he likes 7 players for the 3rd overall pick when you just traded from #6 to #3. Again, this is minor stuff but it never hurts an organization to be publicly aligned with their messaging.
12 – At Least – We know safety is taken care of.
— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) March 30, 2018
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com