You smell that, Jets fans? That is most definitely the smell of optimism and football returning, as we have reached the two-weeks-away-from-the-Green-&-White-Scrimmage portion of the off-season. We have a new coach that’s been here for about six months, and a new general manager that’s only been here for what feels like six days. It’s year two of Sam Darnold, with an influx of talent on both sides of the ball, and a puncher’s chance of ending a too-long playoff drought. There’s still a few questions this team needs answered so, like a Pat Mahomes errant cross body throw that lands in the arms of Jamal Adams in January to seal a playoff win, let’s take this pick six to the house.
Can Johnathan Harrison steady the offensive line at the Center position?Spencer Long, a signing that very few people wanted less than I did, didn’t work out and it almost cost the Jets their prized rookie QB on multiple occasions. When the Jets finally turned things over to Harrison, he held up pretty well. He was penalized five times but gave up zero sacks. With the addition of Kelechi Osemele, and a healthy Brian Winters, the offensive line has the potential to be dominant up front, but it starts and ends with Harrison. If he is not steady up front, the Jets will be in trouble.
Will the good Trumaine Johnson actually show up?
Trumaine Johnson was not good at all last year. He was targeted 61 times and gave up 40 receptions, and was on the receiving end of way too many lowlights. He is now reunited with the defensive coordinator that essentially got him paid, a potentially scary front seven in front of him, and an all-pro safety behind him for a second straight year. The Jets defense needs Johnson to be good for them to be as good as they can be, because the depth chart is dangerously thin behind him. While it stands to reason that Gregg Williams won’t use as much man to man as Todd Bowles (Williams uses alot of Cover 3), Johnson will still have to cover someone this year, and if there’s more Robert Foster blowbys, the season will go up in flames.
Who will be the edge presence on this defense?The Jets have been looking for an edge rusher since before Joe and I even thought of becoming dads to adorable babies. The Jets drafted Jachai Polite during day two of the draft with the hopes that it’d be him, and it very well could be, but it’s alot to ask a rookie pass rusher to come right in and contribute. If it’s not Polite, is it Brandon Copeland (5 sacks last year) or Jordan Jenkins (7 sacks last year)? Could the edge presence come from Tarell Basham (one of my former DraftSZN co-host Jeff Lloyd’s favorite prospects) or CFL standout Frankie Luvu? The Jets project to have a solid defensive line, but they need an edge presence in the worst way. Who steps up will be something to watch.
What is the expected 2nd year jump for Sam Darnold?
Sam Darnold has been compared to Jameis Winston and Tony Romo, so let’s look at both of their year two stat lines (in Romo’s case, his year 6 stat line but 2nd 16 game season):
- Winston: 4090 yards, 28 TDs, 18 INTs
- Romo: 4483 yards, 26 TDs, 14 INTs
If you average that out, you’re looking at 4286 yards, 27 TDs, and 16 INTs. That would be a HUGE increase statistically from Sam’s rookie year. What Sam did well last year was throw with anticipation, and both he and Jeremy Bates deserve credit for fixing his ball control issues. You want to make sure Sam doesn’t take bad sacks that end up costing the team field position, which is something Coach Gase mentioned in One Jets Drive, and Sam’s willingness to throw the ball away has to be a point of improvement. He also has to get better at taking what the defense gives him, and not forcing throws into coverage, but a jump this big would surely put the Jets in playoff contention.Which Adam Gase are we going to get, the one who was Sean McVay before Sean McVay or the one who benched more talented players for long periods of time?
Adam Gase was a rising star in the coaching ranks (due, in large part, because of Peyton Manning’s historic seasons in Denver). He got his head coaching promotion due to those seasons in Denver, went to Miami and seemed to struggle to get a handle on his team down there. Inconsistency seemed to be the theme in Miami, whether that came with personnel usage or playcalling, and success was marred with that inconsistency. Gase, in alot of ways, has a shorter leash than people realize, but probably longer than what others are speculating. You’re not going to have Sam play in his 4th system in 4 years, so I’d say Gase has at least 3 years barring the wheels falling completely off. If we get the aggressive and innovative Gase who is motivated to prove the doubters wrong, the Jets should be in good shape.
Does Joe Douglas make a big move this summer?
Some General Managers like to ease into the job, but this is no ordinary job. The Jets have not made the playoffs since 2010, have had a banner off-season via free agency, and the Mountain comes in highly-respected, and he’s assembled a championship-winning front office. They are also into year two of Sam’s rookie deal, which means the clock is ticking on putting a winner around him. Mike Maccagnan spent the equivalent of a small nation’s GDP to bring in elite talent, and yet the team still feels two elite players away (a cornerback for starters, hello Darius Slay). If the Jets have designs on making the playoffs, it is very possible that Joe Douglas opts to make a big splash and target a talented player to shore up a weak area on this roster.