New York Jets Top Five – Positions Of Need

Joe Belic with a New York Jets top five on their biggest roster needs

OK, so, Snoopy is dead to me, and preliminary bragging rights belong to Giants fans until the teams meet again on November 10. Regardless, Jets fans should be elated with how seamlessly the Jets’ first-team moved the ball during the opening drive. Crowder and Herndon performed as advertised, and Sam made all the right moves—well, except for one errant pass, but let’s not get into that. Nevertheless, the second and third teams didn’t fare as well, and many questions still remain. In this week’s “Joe Jet 5,” I breakdown five glaring weaknesses the Jets need to address. 

Kicker 

I respect hard work and pursuing one’s dreams.  I also admire when someone understands his/her limitations and makes the necessary changes—regardless of what others might feel is best for them.  I remember watching American Idol as a kid and contestants would sing their hearts out fully expecting the judges to love them despite the fact they are—sadly—clearly not good enough. I always felt bad for them, and I questioned the integrity of the show’s producers for letting some participants go as far as they did, but I endlessly wondered how could they—the hopefuls—not know?  

While Maccagnan should be applauded for finding Pro Bowler Jason Myers, he should also be criticized for letting him go.  What was Maccagnan thinking?  Was it wise to break up a special teams unit ranked #1 in the NFL?  What was observed in Catanzaro that made Macc feel comfortable with him in a lead role?  Didn’t Maccagnan see the writing on the wall? Afterall, Catanzaro was released by Tampa Bay—midseason in 2018—after missing four PATs and registering a subpar field goal percentage.  

I don’t want to be too hard Catanzaro, although I was during Thursday’s game—tweeting angrily “the Jets should sCatanzaro.”  I’m a sucker for farewell letters, and he struck a chord.  While some might consider him a quitter I—for one—don’t see it that way.  I respect him for his self-awareness and applaud his decision to move on. 

There is some good news. Last season’s pro-bowl kicker (Jason Myers) was claimed off waivers, and it appears viable options may be available this season as well.  The Vikings sent a 5th rounder to the Ravens for Kaare Vedvik (K).  Kickers are essential, and we all need one, but that’s a hefty price.  I can’t imagine the Ravens would give up that kind of draft capital for backup.  I fully expect Dan Bailey to become available and I’d love for Douglas to bring him in. He’s not the kicker he used to be (75% field goal percentage last two seasons), but he could be solid competition for recently signed Taylor Bertolet—who’s been practicing well thus far.  I’m a firm believer that kicking is a mental game and, if Bailey could revert back to his original self, our woes in the kicking department could be rectified. 

While it’s reasonable to be concerned, I’m comfortable Douglas will secure a kicker and ensure we don’t lose games because of poor decisions by the previous regime. 

Corners, Corners, and more Corners: 

The Jets’ first-team defense did an admirable job forcing a three and out in the preseason opener; however, after that initial thwarting, they were less than impressive.  Derrick Jones, Parry Nickerson, and Krayvon Brown were routinely beat.  Honestly, it was a little embarrassing how easily rookie Daniel Jones and—a potential practice squad player—Alex Tanney moved the ball on the Jets backups. Now, I understand that it’s early, but we also have to keep it real. This cornerback group is looking like a real issue. The Jets addressed Jones’ subpar showing with a pink slip and are now one more CB short; unfortunately, the dominoes keep falling as Kyron Brown left practice—with an apparent injury—on Monday as well. At one point this week, our starting corners were: Roberts, Poole and Arthur Maulet.  The lineup is almost comical, yet it’s the sad reality the Jets are dealing with. Maccagnan left several holes, and cornerback is no exception. 

I’ve mentioned in several articles Douglas’ knack for finding corners, and I hope he has something up his sleeve because if something doesn’t change this will be a long-term problem. While Douglas found some “needles in a haystack” with the Eagles, I want to see a power move.  I think at this point with Trumaine Johnson nursing a hamstring—and a subpar 2018—the Jets need to acquire someone with name recognition. In a passing league, you don’t want the Achilles heel of your team be found in your secondary. 

Edge 

While Polite showed a glimmer of promise in the preseason game, I can’t say I was thrilled with his performance. He was routinely handled without difficulty by a backup offensive lineman.  I fully understand Polite is developing and it’s going to take time, but I was expecting more from him in this matchup.  Obviously, the light switch can come on at any moment, but I doubt Polite has the impact this season many were anticipating.  I loved his college film, and I’ve been an advocate of his throughout camp, but the showing this past Thursday night was disconcerting.

Frankie Luvu had a nice game and showed some fire—forcing a fumble and playing with confidence. However, it seems as though edge will once again be a carousel ride, and it’s a position that needs monitoring.  

Safety

I’m happy to hear Marcus Maye is off the PUP list; however, I can’t say I’m confident he’ll stay on the field. I want to be optimistic, but history dictates the Jets will be sending out another “mayday” shortly.  Do we have players on this roster who can fill the void?  Well, after watching the first preseason game it appears the Jets lack depth at yet another position; while Rontez Miles is a decent backup, he’s not a starting-caliber player.  

I loved the Trevon Wesco pick and I expect he’s going to surprise many people; nevertheless, during the draft, the player I was hoping the Jets would select—before trading down—was Chauncey Gardner-Johnson (S). I had a feeling Maye would be an issue, and although he’s in a uniform right now, his injury history remains unsettling.  

At the beginning of the season, my biggest concern was the offense, but it’s become clear the weakness of this team could be on the defensive side of the field. 

Guard

Unfortunately, Winters left the last game with a shoulder injury. He’s expected to be ready for week 1, but there is reason for concern.  Brian has had durability issues throughout his career and only played a full season once in six years. I commend Joe Douglas for having the foresight to make a trade for Alex Lewis, but I can’t say I feel comfortable with him or Tom Compton starting at guard.  

According to PFF, with 707 snaps—in 2018—Lewis received a dismal 49.3 overall grade. While Lewis was average in pass protection (60.1), he struggled mightily in run blocking (46.9). 

According to PFF, with 837 snaps—in 2018—Tom Compton received an overall grade of 60.6. Compton was decent in pass protection (60.2) and run blocking (62.7), but he’s far from a refined OL.

Hopefully, Frank Pollack (OL coach) can get the most out of these players. He’s arguably one of the best in the business, and if anybody can do it, it’s him. Still, there is no question losing Winters would be a big hit to a line, which began to look promising.  I’m hopeful Winters will be ready for the start of the season, but at this point, nobody knows the severity of his injury. 

Douglas isn’t a miracle worker, and it’s going to take some time to correct all the mistakes from the previous administration but, thus far, he’s doing an admirable job—especially bringing in Ryan Kalil (C). Regardless, I’ll be paying close attention to Alex Lewis and Tom Compton.  If for some reason they don’t play up to par, Douglas will need to address the situation swiftly.