To say that it has been a rough start to the 2019 NFL season for the New York Jets would be an understatement. From early season losses to quarterback illnesses, things haven’t been ideal for Gang Green. But, as the saying goes, it isn’t how you start but rather how you finish. And while the season may not be going the way that the Jets have hoped, there are still a lot of things for the team to play for as they move forward in 2019.
There are two things that great teams have that all NFL teams aspire to: continuity and culture. For proof of that, the Jets should look no further than the team that beat them in week two, the New England Patriots. And if the Jets are going to continue to rehabilitate their culture to compete with the Patriots at the top of the AFC East in the future, they can’t afford to tank.
Fortunately, head coach Adam Gase has made it clear that he has high expectations for his team even if this season may not look like one that will end with a playoff berth. After the anemic offensive performances that have plagued the team early in the season, that kind of attitude is needed to tighten things up going forward.
One area where continuity will be especially important going forward is in improving the Jets’ inconsistent offensive line play. The offensive line’s issues protecting the quarterback helped get Trevor Siemian injured, something that cannot happen to usual starting signal-caller Sam Darnold. The top priority for this team has to be protecting the face of their franchise, and coach Gase and company need to develop a cohesive unit to make that happen.
This season looks like a lost cause, with Super Bowl LIV odds from Betway putting the Jets ahead of only the Miami Dolphins to win the Lombardi Trophy. As of September 25, 2019, the Jets stood at +20000 odds to join the list of Super Bowl winners. But how well the team plays over the remainder of this season will go a long way toward determining their chances to win future titles.
Sam Darnold’s Development
When the New York Jets drafted Sam Darnold to be their franchise quarterback, they made a commitment to his development and for him to take this team as far as he could. But the Jets need to do Darnold some favors as well if he is going to reach his full potential once he gets back from his shocking absence due to mono.
Beyond just protecting Darnold more effectively than they have protected him, the Jets need to set him up for success with the rest of their offensive players. Wide receiver depth has been a huge concern for the Jets as well thanks to injuries to Demaryius Thomas and Quincy Enunwa. In the week three loss to the Patriots, the Jets used just four wide receivers. A win against the Patriots wasn’t likely with Luke Falk at quarterback, but the Jets will need to have more options available for when Darnold returns if they want to have fresh legs to stretch the field for four quarters at a time.
To his credit, Darnold has shown solid leadership qualities during what is clearly an adversity-filled time in his young career. Despite being out with mono and the team being overmatched early this season, Darnold says he is confident the team will go on a run and turn the season around. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but he is saying the right things. Now the question is whether or not Darnold can back those words up with his play on the field.
There are, of course, many other reasons for the Jets to continue to give it their all this season. Players are playing for future contracts and coaches are coaching for the same. But developing and winning culture and doing everything they can to make their quarterback an elite starter in the NFL are any team’s top priorities, and the Jets have a chance to make those aspirations reality starting with their performances over the rest of the 2019 season.