Optimism is a dangerous and foreign term in the minds of Jets’ fans. It appears we have traveled quickly from the days of the Rex Ryan bravado and gloating about taking down the Patriots, to wallowing in despair and pleading to the Football Gods to just allow us to watch meaningful games in December. Whether it’s Sam Darnold’s highlight reel final games of the 2018 season that excited the fanbase for the future, or the glaring roster holes as the season quickly approaches, there are certainly causes for optimism and concern. Let’s look at the top reasons for both…
The Jets will be 11-5 and Playoff Bound Because of:The Offensive Free Agency Haul
The 2019 offseason didn’t disappoint as the Jets landed much needed playmakers for Sam Darnold, signing Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder. While both have question marks (a full season off for Bell and season-ending injury for Crowder), there is no denying that the Jets offense improved dramatically with the addition of these two players. Bell is the most versatile back in the game and instantly becomes the Jets’ best weapon since Curtis Martin and will provide a security blanket for Darnold.
While Crowder’s speed and ability in the slot will provide the Jets with something they haven’t had in a very long time. When you add these weapons in the mix with Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, and Chris Herndon, the Jets appear to have all their bases covered from a scheme standpoint. One addition fans shouldn’t sleep on is Ty Montgomery. A converted wide receiver to running back, he possesses all the tools to be a swiss army knife type of weapon for Adam Gase and a serviceable backup to Bell.
Sam DarnoldThe young quarterback showed enough in the last four games of the 2018 season to ignite an entire fanbase as he led the NFL in passer rating during that span. He showed a tremendous rapport with Robby Anderson (who clearly expanded his route tree) and rookie Chris Herndon. In those final four games, Darnold showed an ability to improvise when plays break down and learn from his mistakes, as he only threw one interception during that stretch. We must keep in mind that this was all with Jeremy Bates calling plays, Quincy Enunwa injured, and Darnold playing with the team’s third string running back.
Adam Gase’s Offensive Mind
Perceived personality and abrasiveness aside, Adam Gase lives and breathes offense. He has spent his entire career on the offensive side of the ball. This is a welcomed change for the Jets, who have consistently hired defensive coaches with antiquated styles of game management since the beginning of this century. When you pair Gase’s offensive mind with the progression of Darnold and the blank canvas he provides, it feels like a match made in heaven. Gase will not pigeon-hole or type cast players like his play-calling predecessor did and will utilize the weapons he has at his disposal to get the most out of them. With Bell’s versatility, Anderson’s expanded route repertoire and big play ability, Enunwa’s skills outside and in the slot, and Crowder working the middle, this has the chance to provide the Jets with their best offense since Keyshawn, Curtis and Chrebet.
They’re 4-12 and Cleaning House Due To:The Offensive Line
The move for Kelechi Osemele was a good one and a risk worth taking, yet the Jets still need to be hopeful that he returns to his All-Pro form, which is a big question mark. He is undoubtedly an upgrade over James Carpenter, but he is far from an All-Pro lock. The Jets will start Kelvin Beachum at left tackle, who is reliable and probably underappreciated by fans, yet he still struggles in the run game. Brandon Shell will start at right tackle after coming off a season ending injury, and Brian Winters returns at right guard and has been a marginal starter, at best. The Jets failed to address the gaping hole at center through the draft or free agency and will head into the season with Jonotthan Harrison as their starting center. Harrison was serviceable as a replacement starter at the end of last season, but to go into 2019 with him as your answer at the position is a roll of the dice.
The Cornerback Position
The additions of CJ Mosley, Quinnen Williams, and Jachai Polite look like they will assuredly improve the Jets defense, yet the inability of the front office to upgrade the cornerback position make this feel like a wash. The Jets let Buster Skrine walk in free agency and brought in Brian Poole – a slight upgrade. They let Morris Claiborne go (who could still return) and brought back Daryl Roberts, who filled in nicely in spots before inexplicably being sent to play free safety as Marcus Maye went down for the year. And, as CB1 we have Trumaine Johnson, who struggled mightily in his first season with the Jets. And again, the Jets remain extremely hopeful that a 29-year-old corner can return to his form from three years ago. It is concerning that in a growing pass-happy league the Jets’ Front Office felt comfortable not addressing cornerback position overall.
A Combustible Front Office and Coaching Staff
The first round of the draft had just ended, and rumors were circulating about Mike Maccagnan being on the hot seat. Whether that was Adam Gase making a power play, or VP of Player Personnel Brian Heimerdinger voicing displeasure with the state of the front office, typically where there is smoke there is some fire. When you combine this with an already volatile coaching staff (hello Gregg Williams and Joe Vitt) and Adam Gase’s known abrasive personality and history, it could be a recipe for disaster, especially if the team gets off to a shaky start.