What can we learn from this year’s contenders as the New York Jets look to evolve their roster and organization into a competitive one? Here is a run through from the teams we saw Divisional Weekend. Check back on Friday for weekly picks playoff picks which can be placed in any safe online casinos…
Offense Remains King
We wrote about this at length last year but it is an offensive dominated league and the New York Jets need to respond accordingly. When we reached Divisional Weekend, seven of the top ten offensive DVOA teams were still alive. The only remaining team who was not in the top ten was Houston, who was only there because Deshaun Watson become Superman in the second half of the team’s Wild Card game and then were thoroughly destroyed by Kansas City in the following round.
All four of the Divisional Round home teams were top 8 in offensive DVOA, while only 3 of the top 10 defensive DVOA teams made it to Divisional weekend. Two of them (Minnesota and Baltimore) lost by double digits. Five of the final eight teams in the NFL this year were 14th or worse in defensive DVOA.
When looking at the final four teams, every remaining team was top 8 in offensive DVOA while 3 of the 4 of them were 14th or worse in defensive DVOA. Only San Francisco was top ten in both offensive and defensive DVOA.
So what do all these ratings mean? The same thing they generally mean every year. You can be a contender with an average or slightly below average defense. You cannot be a contender with a bad offense and you are unlikely to be one if you only have an average offense.
The Jets were 31st in offensive in DVOA this year and 10th in defensive DVOA. They have been comically lopsided with allocating resources to their defense in recent years and need to make a radical shift starting now. Since selecting Sam Darnold, they have only drafted four other offensive players, Chris Herndon, Trevon Wesco, Trenton Cannon and Chuma Edoga. Wesco is a blocking tight end and Cannon is a special teamer…both are roster long shots in 2020. They have used their other picks besides Darnold in the first three rounds on two interior defensive lineman, an out of the league edge rusher and Edoga. There are six people currently paid more than Darnold on the roster, two are inside linebackers, one is another interior defensive linemen and one is a “cornerback” named Trumaine Johnson.
The Jets can afford to tread water or even take a small step back on defense next year (this may be inevitable anyway with Duck Hodges, Matt Barkley, Danny Fumbles, and Dwayne Haskins not on the schedule). They need to take a massive, massive leap on offense if they want to be a viable contender. Their offseason needs to be structured accordingly. You can be a playoff team with James Burgress, Foley Fatukasi and Nathan Shepherd playing major front seven reps. You cannot be a playoff team with Brian Winters and Brandon Shell playing major reps with a receiving group that doesn’t adequately replace Robby Anderson if he leaves in free agency.
But While Talking Defense, How About An Edge?
The Packers went all in on edge rushers this past offseason with Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. They were rewarded with a combined 25.5 sacks. San Francisco drafted soon to be DROY Nick Bosa and put him with Arik Armstead and Dee Ford. They combined for over 25 sacks. Kansas City has helped Chris Jones thrive by adding Fran Clark, who narrowly missed double digit sacks this year. Tennessee got 9 sacks from Harold Landry to pace their defense this season.
The Jets need more than Jordan Jenkins and Tarell Basham, who are nice supporting pieces but lack the necessary consistency and explosiveness off the edge to be difference makers week in and week out. More speed off the edge, which doesn’t need to be manufactured by blitzing Jamal Adams, will also hopefully help Quinnen Williams look more like Chris Jones and less like Leonard Williams.
Scheme Flexibility Is King
Matt LaFleur did not make Green Bay’s offense pass happy and a Sean McVay knockoff despite having Aaron Rodgers, DaVante Adams and Jimmy Graham. He recognized where Rodgers and Graham were in their careers and built his offense around Aaron Jones. Mike Vrabel made a quarterback switch in the first half of the season, despite Tennessee’s draft pick investment in Marcus Mariota and down the stretch has allowed Tennessee to become exceptionally run heavy to support Derrick Henry’s historic hot streak. We all know what Andy Reid has done to optimize his offense to Patrick Mahomes’ video game skill set and Kyle Shanahan runs arguably the most diverse, unique offense in the league. He has rotated between lead backs all year, integrated rookie receivers, midseason acquisitions and knows how to manufacture touches for his best player, George Kittle.
It is about the players, not about “your system.”
The Offensive Line. The Offensive Line. The Offensive Line.
All four remaining teams ranked top ten in offensive line DVOA. 11 of the top 13 teams in offensive line DVOA made the playoffs this season. Houston was on the only outlier. The Jets were 26th in offensive line DVOA this season. They need at least two starters this offseason and substantially better depth to better sustain the inevitable injuries that will happen at some point.
Worth Noting – Receivers / Tight Ends
Only one of the four remaining teams had a 1,000 yard receiver this year, rookie AJ Brown on the Tennessee Titans. However, both the 49ers and Chiefs had a tight end go over 1,000 yards.