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1 – Sam Darnold was not competing against Josh McCown this summer. Sam Darnold was not competing against Teddy Bridgewater this summer. He was competing against himself. All the New York Jets needed to see was him being capable and competent enough to start week 1 and he was going to be under center. Darnold easily cleared that bar day to day in training camp and in the preseason. There are going to peaks and valleys throughout his rookie season. He is 21 years old. There are question marks on the Jets offensive line and the defense is likely to struggle getting after the quarterback. Regardless, Darnold has impressed the organization with his poise, confidence and the fluidity to his game. He looks like a veteran already and there is no reason he cannot put up credible season long numbers in his debut (final predictions for his stat line coming this weekend). As it stands now, the Jets look like they got a good one. Let’s now see how he handles his first wave of adversity and if he can stay on a positive trajectory throughout a 17 week season.
2 – He has been inconsistent through three years, particularly when it comes to drafting (we’ll get to that in a bit) but Mike Maccagnan has been terrific at the game’s most important position since the end of the 2017 season. He cut bait with failed picks Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg, he made an aggressive move up in the NFL Draft after missing on Kirk Cousins, thanks to extra pick acquired for Sheldon Richardson and took a savvy flier on Teddy Bridgewater for pennies, before flipping him for a third round pick. If Darnold is good, it buys Maccagnan at least another two years as the Jets GM, right or wrong.
3 – Final thought on quarterback: It is about time the Jets have wised up and only carried two on the active roster. Let’s hope we never see Josh McCown this year but he is a capable number two for this season. Long term, the Jets will need to figure out a backup for Darnold. Is that Geno Smith or Mark Sanchez music? (Kidding)4 – It was a wildly disappointing summer for the Jets 2015-2017 draft classes. The 2015 class, outside of Leonard Williams, will be gone in the next two days (Lorenzo Mauldin and Deon Simon). Darron Lee looked shaky in the preseason and Juston Burris is likely on the chopping block along with Jeremy Clark. Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart and Jordan Leggett were all complete duds and don’t deserve a roster spot but may get one because of their draft position. Elijah McGuire got hurt and may be put on the short term IR. The Jets lack of depth is going to hurt them this season and something that will need to be remedied with all that cap space next offseason and their remaining six draft picks in 2019.
5 – Barring a trade (still a possibility), the Jets pass rush at outside linebacker will be a mish mash of Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, Brandon Copeland and potentially rookie UDFA Frankie Luvu. Todd Bowles is going to need to get creative with his blitz packages, as he regularly floods the field with defensive backs. It would not be shocking if a safety or corner ends up leading this team in sacks outside of Leonard Williams (if he plays to his potential).
6 – The Jets starting tight ends are going to be two players who were on the team last season: Eric Tomlinson at the Y and Neal Sterling at the H. Sterling was the best all around player at the position this summer and Tomlinson will be here because of his blocking ability. Chris Herndon will make the team but is unlikely to have a big role early in the season after a quiet summer.
7 – It will be interesting to see how the Jets handle the backup running back position. We know Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell will be 1A and 1B in the backfield but with McGuire’s injury, the Jets need to decide if they want to hang on to veteran Charcandrick West or go with rookie Trenton Cannon. Despite issues with ball security, the Jets gave Cannon more return reps against Philadelphia and with the amount of work he got this preseason, it seems like he will be sticking around. Thomas Rawls had a stinker of a summer and won’t be around long.8 – The Jets are likely to be aggressive on the waiver wire looking for a backup tackle or maybe even on the trade market. Right now, Brent Qvale is the only player who seems secure with a backup roster spot and he had a rough preseason to put it politely.
9 – On to positive draft pick news: It was a terrific summer for second year cornerback Derrick Jones who looks like a keeper and the top backup outside cornerback. Jones was a college receiver who converted to defensive back. He has terrific athleticism and with the #31 on looks alarmingly like former Jets corner Antonio Cromartie. Also starting right tackle Brandon Shell was steady and healthy all summer after dealing with injuries and inconsistencies in 2017.
10 – Jason Myers is going to be the kicker, at least in the beginning of the year. It looks like the Jets may keep Cannon over Andre Roberts at returner but it feels like they will regret not having a veteran available to handle kicks and punts, if they do. Overall, it isn’t easy to feel good about the special teams heading into September.
11 – Players who had a strong preseason/summer: Neville Hewitt, Doug Middleton, Henry Anderson, Nathan Shepherd, Xavier Cooper, Neal Sterling, Clive Walford, Tre McBride.
12 – Final 53 man prediction, not factoring in suspended players (Stewart, Rashard Robinson and Kevin Pierre-Louis), injured players (Eli McGuire and Rontez Miles) and the reality that the Jets will add 2-4 players off waivers this weekend.
- QB: Sam Darnold, Josh McCown
- RB: Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell, Trenton Cannon, Lawrence Thomas
- TE: Neal Sterling, Eric Tomlinson, Chris Herndon, Clive Walford
- WR: Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jermaine Kearse, Terrelle Pryor, Charone Peake, Andre Roberts
- OT: Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell, Brent Qvale
- OC/OG: James Carpenter, Brian Winters, Spencer Long, Dakota Dozier, Jonotthan Harrison
- DL: Leonard Williams, Steve McLendon, Nathan Shepherd, Henry Anderson, Mike Pennel, Folorunso Fatukasi, Xavier Cooper
- ILB: Darron Lee, Avery Williamson, Neville Hewitt, Kevin Minter
- OLB: Jordan Jenkins, Josh Martin, Brandon Copeland, Frankie Luvu, Dylan Donohue
- CB: Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne, Buster Skrine, Parry Nickerson, Derrick Jones, Daryl Roberts
- S: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Doug Middleton, Terrence Brooks
- ST: Thomas Hennessy, Lachlan Edwards, Jason Myers