Stephen Russo goes 3 up and 3 down on New York Jets HC Adam Gase
With week one of Free Agency off to hot start around the league, Jets GM Joe Douglas has taken a simple, understated, and intelligent approach to put his stamp on the team. His best move thus far is undoubtedly Connor McGovern, the versatile interior offensive lineman from Denver – smart, durable, and penalty free – I like the sound of that! Douglas has taken other measures (George Fant, Josh Andrews, Greg Van Roten, re-signing Alex Lewis) as well to stick to his promise of bolstering a struggling offensive line unit from 2019. The bottom line is that he has placed focus in arguably the most important area of a team, when his predecessors spent years neglecting it. Now, will these moves pan out? Time will tell. But there is nowhere to go but up for this unit.
Stephen Russo on what Joe Douglas can learn from the 2013 New York Jets…
The longer your Jets fandom tenure, the more opportunity you have to draw lines of similarity between past coaches, players, games, or seasons altogether. How many of us have uttered the words “I’ve seen this movie before” while watching a Jets game? I’d be willing to wager it’s a high percentage. The current playoff drought has us all clamoring for change and hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself, even though the worst fears of Jets fans seem to always become reality.
Stephen Russo on the myths around rebuilding in the NFL
The rebuild. It is a term that has found an all too comfortable home in the vocabulary of every long-suffering Jets fan over the last decade. There are all types of rebuilds, too. Look no further than the Jets teams of recent history to see how many different ways you can do this thing:
Stephen Russo with the good, the bad and the ugly from the New York Jets offensive weapons in 2019
Prior to the start of last season, it appeared as if the Jets took their first step into this century and bought into offensive football. While the hire was controversial, they went for an offensive coach in Adam Gase, a small step in the right direction. The organization recognized a serious asset in Sam Darnold, and also realized that if you want your young Quarterback to thrive, you surround him with talent. So, they signed Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder, and figured that pairing them with Chris Herndon, Quincy Enunwa, and Robby Anderson would lead to the “electric” offense that Sam Darnold and Adam Gase had envisioned when the season started. Well, weren’t we in for a rude awakening?
Allow me to take a look at the top weapons individually and grade them on a pretty simple scale: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.
Stephen Russo grades out the New York Jets defensive line in 2019
The Jets entire defensive unit, and in particular, their defensive line, was a strongpoint of the team in the 2019 season. With heavy investments made both in the draft and free agency in recent years, the defensive line should be a strength. Let’s take a closer look at how the unit performed this past season.
Stephen Russo grades out the New York Jets offensive line in 2020
The Jets offensive line was quite the story for the 2019 season. From injuries to miscommunication to an inability to block a zero blitz, this unit showed it all… and not in a good way. For too many years, and specifically under Mike Maccagnan, Jets fans and media alike were clamoring for more attention to be paid to this unit. But still, no investment was made and it reared its ugly head in 2019. This position group, which was marginal at best coming into the season, was a major disappointment.
To add salt in the wound, they were oft-injured as well, starting 11 different lineman and nine different line combinations during the season. A lauded Hail Mary by new GM Joe Douglas before the season to lure Ryan Kalil out of retirement to come play center was a huge swing and a miss, and his season ending injury proved to be a blessing in disguise as Jonotthan Harrison filled in much better for the latter part of the season. Early season struggles from Kelvin Beachum (he’s still having nightmares of Myles Garrett) and Brian Winters, a turnstile rotation at right tackle between Brandon Shell and Chuma Edoga, and continual miscommunication and incompetence paved the way for an abysmal season for the Jets’ offensive line.
Stephen Russo goes 1st and 10 on his final thoughts on the New York Jets 2019 season and what comes next…
I believe in Sam Darnold. Did he make some head-scratching throws this season? Sure. Did he continue to make mistakes that he made in his rookie year? Yes. Was his start on MNF against the Patriots awful? Absolutely! But he also made strides forward and bounced back from a difficult first half of the season for an impressive second half. He is a 22-year-old kid who has played 26 games in 2 years, and has overcome bad offensive lines, subpar coaching, and limited offensive weapons to improve in nearly all statistical categories, throw more touchdowns than interceptions in both years, and get himself to a winning record as a starting quarterback in 2019. That’s progress.
Stephen Russo goes 1st and 10 on the narratives around the New York Jets season and their ugly win over Pittsburgh
It seems as though there are only two possible narratives on this 2019 Jets’ season that has been, in a word, underwhelming. Regardless of the current record and the chance for this team to get to 7-9 with a win over a JV Bills team in Buffalo to improve their win total 3 games from 2018, I believe it’s safe to say that more was expected. Fans needed more from Adam Gase. We wanted to see more progress from Sam Darnold. We thought Le’Veon Bell would be more reminiscent of his Pittsburgh days. And basically, we felt that the offense and this team would be more competitive than it has been all season. I think, to varying degrees, everyone (well most everyone, I am speaking to Jets fans) can agree that all of those things are true.
Stephen Russo with an offseason wish list for Joe Douglas and the New York Jets
‘Tis the season for giving. But, in the world of a Jets fan, ‘tis the season for wishing. While this roller coaster of a year winds down and results in a way that many of us feared it would, the offseason is right around the corner and our wish list is growing. For far too many years, the March through August stretch has been the most exciting time for Jets fans. The hope builds, the “on paper” discussions begin, and the actual play on the field isn’t given the chance to crush our dreams.
This feeling is all too familiar, but as the calendar turns to 2020 the Jets fanbase will have something to look forward to that they haven’t had in, well, forever… an undeniable blind faith in a General Manager. You’d have to go back to Bill Parcells to find a hire that was as universally accepted among Jets fans. That correlation is fitting because new GM Joe Douglas will be tasked with doing exactly what Bill Parcells did more than 20 years ago: propelling this organization out of mediocrity.
As the holidays quickly approach, I have given it my best shot at an offseason wish list for Jets new General Manager, Joe Douglas. Here we go!
Stephen Russo goes 1st and 10 on the Jets ugly win over the Miami Dolphins
A win is a win. In this league, you’ll take it. While the narrative is different because the Jets are now 5-8, this is a game that would have been deemed a “gutty” performance had it gotten the Jets to 8-5. The truth is that ugly wins count just as much as dominant wins and are the marks of a good team. The other truth is that the last nine years of ugly football and the first 11 months of Adam Gase’s tenure with the Jets haven’t afforded this team much in the way of credit for ugly wins.