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.
This is a one-horse race as in my opinion, Jamison Crowder was the only “good” offensive weapon on this team in 2019. Other players showed flashes, but none showed the consistency game after game that Crowder did. He was undoubtedly Darnold’s favorite target, and led the team in receiving targets, catches, touchdowns, and yards – nearly every statistical category. Crowder was reliable and consistent, and a great free agent signing.
I’ll start by admitting that titling this section “The Bad” might be a bit unfair, but calling it “The Mediocre” just doesn’t sound as good. Le’Veon Bell (reluctantly) falls into this category. This is a tough grade because for a good part of this season, he was the best player on the field. A bad offensive line coupled with the obvious misuse by offensive genius Adam Gase, led to Bell’s worst statistical season ever. He failed to crack 1,000 yards in 15 games, only averaged 3.2 ypc, and scored 4 touchdowns… total. It was not a good year for Bell as he fell far short of expectations.Robby Anderson also falls into this category and primarily for one reason: consistency. There is no question that Robby Anderson is a talented receiver and a favorite weapon of Darnold’s, but he needs to be more consistent. Anderson got off to a slow start in 2019, and never fully recovered. He showed flashes and had a very nice 3-game stretch in the middle of the season (Oak, Cin, Mia), but for the most part left much to be desired. Too much of his production (52, 779, 5) was clumped into 5 games, leaving too many games where he simply wasn’t a factor.
Chris Herndon, coming off a surprisingly good rookie season, left fans with extremely high hopes for the 2019 season. However, prior to the season, Herndon was hit with a 4-game suspension to start the season due to a DUI. Then, he inexplicably tweaks a hamstring in practice before returning to action, keeping him out an additional 4 games. He finally made his return to action in week 10 against the Giants, and ended up breaking a rib and ending his season. One catch for seven yards in a sophomore season where many expected this up and comer to build upon an obvious rapport with Sam Darnold and add to that “electric” offense. Yet another letdown.
Ty Montgomery, signed in the offseason to back up Le’Veon Bell and be the “swiss army knife” weapon and change of pace back, was a major disappointment. After flashing during training camp and preseason, Montgomery barely saw the field in Gase’s offense and made little impact, amassing under 200 total yards and not a single touchdown. In fact, he yielded much of the backup duties to the ageless Bilal Powell.Quincy Enunwa, much like Herndon, had an injury shortened season as he was lost for the year after week one. Enunwa, and all Jets fans, were hopeful that the move to Adam Gase would allow him to work more than a simple quick screen in his route repertoire, and the addition of the other weapons would open things up for him to utilize his rare combination of size, strength and speed to add to the offense. But a week one injury ended his season early, as he finished with one catch for -4 yards.
In summary, injuries played a major role in the 2019 season, and not just on the offensive side of the ball. However, even with additions like Crowder and Bell playing 15 or more games and Anderson playing a full season, this offense finished the season ranked 31st in points scored and 32nd in yards. While the aforementioned injuries and your starting quarterback getting mono and missing 3 games need to be taken into consideration, so does the big picture.
In the end, the Jets were a team that managed to beat inferior opponents down the stretch and make their way to a 7-9 record. But they did so with a struggling, inconsistent offense getting much help from their injury riddled and overachieving defense. The Gase led offense showed flashes, particularly in the middle of the season scoring 34 points in 3 consecutive victories. However, on the whole, the offense was inconsistent and, outside of the opening scripted plays, failed to adjust to anything the defense did.
This offense, with the combination of the added playmakers and in-house talent, underachieved. The fact that they ranked at the bottom of the league in scoring and yardage is an indictment on coaching and inferior play.
It must improve in 2020 if this team is going to end its longest playoff drought since the 1970’s.