Like every team in the NFL, the New York Jets will be navigating arguably the most unique season in league history in 2020. I am writing this article under the assumption that there will be an attempted season, which I do believe will be the case, how it actually plays out is anybody’s guess. For now, let’s assume we are going to get a severely abridged training camp, preseason and 16 games with no fans in the stands with a possible delay of a few weeks for the opener…
The Jets will have no more excuses than any other team in the league if the above plays out but here is overview of specific challenges they will be dealing with and will not have to deal with comparatively to other teams.While there is plenty of skepticism of their coaching staff, they will have the benefit of returning with the exact same system on both sides of the football. This is more exciting on defense, where the team excelled last year despite multiple injuries and will be getting players like CJ Mosley and Avery Williamson back. Offensively, Adam Gase concerns aside, it should make life easier for Sam Darnold because he will not have to learn a new playbook or new terminology. Hopefully, in his second year under Gase he will be receiving more ownership of the playbook and the direction of the game plan week to week.
Staying on the returning parts of the team, all eyes will be on Jamal Adams who is demanding either a new contract or a trade. The expectation is that he will be at training camp because the Jets control his rights for three more years and it doesn’t seem pragmatic for Adams to sit out an extended amount of time this season but he may attempt to exert more pressure on the team by missing whatever version of training camp and preseason there is. The team has also had less contact than usual with players returning from injuries, like Mosley and Williamson, so there could be an adjustment window as they get back up to full speed.
The Jets have a general expectation that their first two draft picks, Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims are going to start. The learning curve will be steeper than usual for the rookies, with the same going for third rounder Ashtyn Davis who could be pushed into larger role sooner than expected depending on how the Adams’ situation shakes out.
There will be further challenges on offense, as the the team could have up to four new starters on their offensive line (Becton, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten and George Fant/Chuma Edoga), they are also acclimating a new outside receiver alongside with Mims in Breshad Perriman while tight end Chris Herndon is returning from a fully missed season due to injury. Frank Gore is another new face as the primary backup to Le’Veon Bell at running back. The most stable part of the returning offensive players is Darnold, Bell, Jamison Crowder and Alex Lewis.The Jets will open the season with back to back games against 2019 playoff teams, who are returning their coaching staffs as well (Buffalo and San Francisco). They will then have four straight against teams who did not make the 2019 playoffs but will be returning their coaching staffs, although two will have new starting quarterbacks (Indianapolis, Denver, Arizona, Los Angeles). The schedule is not easy but it is far from a gauntlet, particularly after a challenging first two weeks.
This season is going to be bizarre and unlike anything we have seen before. Coaching will arguably be more important than ever as team’s adjust to a higher turnover than usual on their depth chart, no crowds and shorter than usual preparation time for the season. All things considered, the Jets are returning their full staff, their starting quarterback and most likely their three other most prominent players (Adams, Bell, Mosley), there will be challenges with a new offensive line/rookie integration but that should not give a pass to this coaching staff, more than it does for any other team.