NFL Training Camps are quickly approaching and the 2019 new look New York Jets are right around the corner. As excitement and angst swirls around the fan base, the questions surrounding this team remain large and it seems that a mere roll of the dice will separate 10-6 from 4-12. As the Jets and their fans prepare themselves for what should be, at the very least, an entertaining year, I will attempt to take an objective look at the 2019 roster and grade the positional groups on both sides of the ball, starting with the offense. Here we go:
Notables: Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian, Davis Webb, Luke Falk
Reminder: remain objective. Believe me when I say that I am as encouraged as one could be following the Darnold’s final four games of 2018. What I cannot allow myself to do is disregard the rest of the 2018 season in projecting forward to 2019. Darnold showed tangible progress at the end of 2018. He showed rapport with young (key) weapons Anderson and Herndon, an ability to improvise when things broke down, and poise that you rarely see from a 21 year-old rookie, and let’s not forget that he did all this without his top two running backs, Quincy Enunwa injured, and in a Jeremy Bates system. However, before that stretch run, he had bad games; he had mediocre games; and now he is learning a completely new system in year two. His stock is trending upward, and the Jets will go as far as he takes them. Make no mistake, the 2019 season begins and ends with Sam Darnold. Among the others, Siemian may prove to be a solid signing as a veteran backup with experience in Gase’s system, but if any quarterback not named Darnold plays significant time this season is doomed.
Notables: Le’Veon Bell, Ty Montgomery, Bilal Powell, Eli McGuire, Trenton Cannon
This positional group is a massive upgrade from the group that ended 2018. Le’Veon Bell is the best dual threat running back in the game, and Ty Montgomery is a versatile change of pace back to compliment him. Both command attention in the run and pass game, and provide Gase with Swiss army knife options in his offense. The addition of a healthy(?) Bilal Powell only furthers the strength of this group and could leave McGuire and Cannon on the outside looking in. The running back position has the chance to be the most improved position on the roster and should provide the offense with real excitement and a number of dual threats out of the backfield.
Pass Catchers (WR/TE)
Notables: Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder, Chris Herndon
This group is undoubtedly the most underrated position by non-Jets fans. While many “experts” struggle to name a receiver on the Jets not named Robby Anderson, I happen to believe that this group has the potential to be great. The biggest reason is that each member of the group checks a different box. Robby Anderson is one of the best deep threats in the NFL and has the ability to take the top off of a defense, but also demonstrated an expanded route tree at the end of last season. Enunwa is a big, physical receiver who excels in the middle of the field, on screens (but not every play!), and outside the numbers. Jamison Crowder is an elite slot receiver that should easily get over 100 targets in Gase’s offense and also shows an ability to get up the field. Finally, Chris Herndon showed in his rookie year that he can be a serious threat in the passing game as a big target outside, inside, and in the red zone. The biggest question mark for this group is health. Enunwa has always struggled to stay healthy. Crowder is coming off a season ending injury. Herndon spent much of his time at Miami injured. And Anderson dealt with nagging injuries for much of last season. If healthy, these weapons could be a dangerous group in 2019 and we could see Adam Gase let Darnold sling it.
Notables: Kelvin Beachum, Kelechi Osemele, Jonotthan Harrison, Brian Winters, Brandon Shell
This is easily the biggest question mark on the offense. Beachum is probably the most overlooked and underrated by fans, as he has been a competent and dependable starter during his tenure in green and white, but he is hardly an All-Pro. Osemele could potentially be a great addition, however the Jets are hoping he can return to his All-Pro form while also hoping that 2018 was an aberration. Harrison is unproven, and the biggest question mark in the group, playing arguably the most important position. Being weak at center with a second year quarterback is a risky move. Winters has struggled mightily in the last two years and is a serviceable starter, at best. Shell has shown flashes but injuries remain a concern and it seems as though he has been generally over-valued by fans simply because he was a fifth round pick by Maccagnan who became a starter. The offensive line has the chance to come together under the leadership of Osemele and Beachum, but the reality is that the collective unit is subpar.
Overall, the offense is a safe bet to be a much improved group and should be able to put up points, which would be a welcomed change of pace to what this fan base has witnessed for the better part of a decade. Sam Darnold will make a jump, and just how big that jump is will ultimately determine the success of the offense and team. With the development of the weapons from last year (Anderson, Herndon) and the addition of versatile and game-changing pieces (Crowder, Bell) this offense should prove to be exciting. The overwhelming question mark at offensive line has the potential to ruin it all, and truly highlights the lack of attention to this group by Joe Douglas’ predecessor. If the offensive line can gel, and find themselves ranked in the middle of the pack, this offense should be a force to be reckoned with and may actually steal some victories from the jaws of defeat in the 2019 season.