TOJ Free Agency Preview: New York Jets Linebacker Targets

Michael Meegan previews the free agent LB that the Jets must target

The New York Jets linebacking core is currently a work in progress. CJ Mosley is still a good player but is not the elite player he once was and is getting older. Quincy Williams is not an NFL starter. This FA LB class is underwhelming but value can still be had. The GUY I would target is Anthony Walker Jr.

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Zach Wilson Rookie Year Review

Michael Meegan assesses Zach Wilson’s rookie performance and answers the question of where we go from here.

Zach Wilson’s rookie year is complete. He finished with 9 TDs, 11 INT’s,  55.9 completion percentage, and 2334 passing yards. He added 185 yards on the ground and 4 rushing TDs over his 13 starts.

How would I describe Zach Wilson’s rookie year? One word–bad. “Save Article, closes word press, shuts computer and goes to a dark room to weep about the scary thoughts that the Jets still do not have a franchise QB.”  Now is that harsh on Zach after he got injured during this season? Yes, it is. However, Zach did have a lot of positive and negatives that need to be discussed in detail.

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TOJ’s Know Your Opponent: Buffalo Bills

The Jets season finale is in Buffalo, as the Bills need a win against the Jets to clinch the AFC East. The Jets are undermanned but have shown week after week they will not go gently into that good night.

Coaching: Sean McDermott is one of the best head coaches in the NFL, but his Bills team has not fired on all cylinders this season. Leslie Frazier’s defense has been bullied at times this season, especially against the run. Brian Daboll’s offense is not the fire breathing dragon it was last year as it’s struggled to find the correct balance between its run and pass game and has been clunky at times.

Personnel: QB Josh Allen has regressed from the QB he was last season. That being said he still has 40 TDs on the year, which just shows he’s a Superstar and is going to be a problem for the Jets for a decade. Stefon Diggs is still as elite as a WR can be in this league. The Bills OL has struggled with injuries this year and been inconsistent with all the moving parts but that unit is as healthy as it can be coming into week 18.

The Bills defense lost its best player for the season in CB Tre White. They still have the best safety duo in the league in S Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. Matt Milano is one of the more underrated LBs in the game, and the Bills DL is very deep and it’s great at keeping bodies fresh.

Potential Weaknesses- The Bills are a tough team to figure out. When their offense is cooking, they can put a 50 burger on the Jets. They also lost to the Jags this season and have been pushed around by tough teams like the Colts and Pats. The Jets run game could give this Bills defense some fits and keep this Bills offense off the field.

Matchup: The Jets are playing for pride and the Bills are playing for the division crown. The Jets are down to their third string LT and missing their top 3 WRs. It’s a tall task for Zach Wilson to put up the 30 points that is going to be required to win this game.

Prediction: Bills 27 Jets 17. I think the Jets cover the spread of 16.5 in this game and Zach Wilson gives us multiple TDs to cheer but the Bills don’t mess around and end up with a comfortable win by the end.

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TOJ’s Know Your Opponent: Miami Dolphins

This Jets season has been one to forget and Zach Wilson is running out of time to give fans something concrete to really believe he is going to be a franchise QB one day. Now an undermanned Jets team gets to travel to Miami to face a blitz happy defense fighting to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

Coaching: Brian Flores has had an interesting season, starting off 1-7 but has righted the ship and has gotten the Miami defense to return to form during their 5 game winning streak. The Miami Dolphins offense is fake and runs 4 yard RPO’s game after game while dinking and dunking its way down the field. I still refuse to learn the names of either of their Offensive Coordinators.

Personnel: QB Tua Tuagiviloa has become an efficient check down machine for the Dolphins. Jets catch a massive break with no stud-rookie WR Jaylen Waddle in this game. The Dolphins OL is still god awful, and the rest of the Dolphins skill guys are average at best.

On defense, rookie edge rusher Jalean Phillips has really come alive with 6 sacks in his last 3 games. CB’s Xavieran Howard and Byron Jones are two of the best man corners in football and are very likely to bully the Jets WRs in the same way the Saints corners did. Jets catch another break, though, because budding star safety Javon Holland is also missing this game.

Potential Weaknesses: the Dolphins OL is still very bad and the Jets DL should be looking to overwhelm them. The Dolphins do not run the ball well and have injuries at the RB position. Tua’s security blanket has been Waddle: without him, there will be an opportunity to make him second-guess and make mistakes.

Matchup: Zach Wilson has not been good at all this season. He has not put together 4 average/goodish quarters in a row yet. It feels foolish to predict that changes this week without his two best WRs and potentially playing with a Third String LT. The Jets offense is going to have to get creative to get the 20 points that they’re going to need to keep this game close and potentially sneak out a win. Part of that is going to be to take the game out of the rookie QB’s hands. Otherwise they’re going down with the ship in a likely multi-turnover ugly loss game for Zach.

Prediction: I don’t know how you can predict the Jets to win another game this season with the injuries they have and their recent performances. Miami wins an ugly game: Dolphins 17 Jets 9.

TOJ’s Know Your Opponent: Week 13 v Philadelphia Eagles

The New York football Jets are coming off their first road win of the season and now return home for a showdown against the mercurial Philadelphia Eagles. The Jets are 0-11 all time against Philly so the question is will this be the year they finally get off the mat!?

Coaching: Rookie HC Nick Sirianni has been a pleasant surprise in the NFL this season. A lot of people thought he’d be a disaster given his wacky press conferences and flower planting analogies but he has this team playing hard and coordinating the 12th best offense by DVOA with not a lot of talent.

Jonathan Gannon is the Eagles DC. He is a first time coordinator and a disciple of Mike Zimmer. The Eagles defense doesn’t have a lot of talent in their back 7 but Gannon has gotten a lot out of that unit.

Personnel: The Strength of this Eagles team is their offensive line. They are snatching souls every week they play. Jordan Maliatta has blossomed into one of the best AND maybe the most violent LT in that NFL, and, man, are alot of people eating crow after Howie Roseman gave him the biggest contract imaginable despite him having only played a handful of snaps. Lane Johnson and Jason Kelce are healthy again and have returned to all-pro form and this OL has been the driving force behind a strong running game this year. Jalen Hurts is out for this game so expect this group to get another heavy workload in the run game. Devonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, and Myles Sanders are a solid skill group that are finally fully healthy this season.

The Eagles defense is built a lot like the Jets in that their DL is their biggest strength, except they’re actually consistent. Fletcher Cox is still Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrove is playing like a man possessed, while Josh Sweat has continued to be a disruptive player. The Jets catch a massive break with Brandon Graham missing this game through injury.

The Eagles back 7 lacks talent outside of CB Darius Slay who has had a nice return to form season in Philly in this defense with multiple pick 6s this year.

Potential Weaknesses : Gardner Minshew is playing in this game and, while he had a good rookie season, he was terrible in Jacksonville last year and hasn’t started an NFL game since last December. If the Jets sell out to stop the run and end up putting the game in Minshew’s hands, it could benefit them greatly. The Eagles back 7 outside of Slay is terrible: they especially have no serious NFL talent at LB so the Jets should be primed to take advantage of this.

Matchup: This time last week I hated this matchup for the Jets. Sirianni comes from the Frank Reich tree and, with the Eagles OL, I was expecting a repeat of the Colts game where they ran the Jets out of the stadium. Jalen Hurts does a lot for this running game though, as he always shifts the numbers in their favor given he’s always a threat to run. With Minshew, this threat is not there. I think the Jets defense can keep Minshew relatively in check and this game will come down to how well the Jets offense can do. We have seen this OL struggle to keep Zach upright and this is not the DL to play when you’re not on your A game. Zach needs to make quick efficient decisions to neutralize this pass rush, which is something we haven’t seen him do on a consistent basis yet.

Prediction: I think the Jets keep this one close. But ultimately Zach isn’t ready to do what it takes to win this game and the Eagles sneak out of MetLife winners by a 21-20 margin.

TOJ’s Know Your Opponent: New York Jets v Houston Texans

The Houston Texans have been memed all year, and most memes consistent of “they are not a real football team” and “they are tanking this year.” Well… the Houston Texans are coming off a big win against the Titans last week and they are FAVORED against our New York Jets. Man, this is gonna a weird game on Sunday.

Coaching- David Culley is the HC of the Texans, a hire that was universally panned. Culley is an old school coach who loves punting and doesn’t like analytics. His Defensive Coordinator, former Bears HC Lovie Smith, calls the Tampa 2 zone all game long on defense. He dares you to beat it and, lo and behold, most teams end up doing just that. On the other side of the ball, Tim Kelly is their OC and has actually has done some fun stuff with this offense and Tyrod Taylor.

Personnel- Laremy Tunsil is a very good LT, Brandin Cooks deserves to be on a better team and is a very productive WR, and Tyrod Taylor is a serviceable QB but this roster severely lacks talent and is filled with more JAGS than the state of Florida.

Potential Weakness- The Texans defense is very solid against the pass but they struggle mightily against the run. While no Michael Carter hurts the Jets, Ty Johnson can still take advantage of this run defense. The Texans OL outside of Tunsil is leaky, particularly in the interior, and the Jets DL should be poised to take advantage.

Matchup- When I and many other Jets fans saw the schedule this year we all looked at the Texans game as a win. Houston beating the Titans without any of their WRs or Derrick Henry should not change that. The Jets are more talented and, I hope, better coached than Houston and they deserve to be criticized harshly if they don’t win.

Prediction- I think the Jets beat the Texans. I think the run game gets going and Zach has an efficient multi TD game. The Jets DL wreck this game and the Jets win 27-17.

This Week on #TOJLive:

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TOJ’s Know Your Opponent: New York Jets v Miami Dolphins

This game sucksssssssssssssss.

Coaching: The bloom has come off the rose for Miami Dolphins HC Brian Flores. After 2 years of overachieving, the Dolphins are one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this year. It seems to be known by all that defensive performance is a less sticky stat and shouldn’t be relied on to be totally consistent year after year. This was unknown to the Miami Dolphins and, as their defense has regressed, the team has been in a tail spin.

The Dolphins have 2 offensive coordinators, which is all you need to know about why the Dolphins offense is struggling. I would google their names but they will not be in Miami next year as Brian Flores picks a new OC every year.

Personnel- Jaylen Waddle is a very exciting rookie WR and Mike Gesecki is a good mismatch weapon at TE.
The Dolphins secondary is one of the best in league lead by All-Pro Cornerback Xavien Howard, and supported by Byron Jones, who is one of the better corners in league. Javon Holland has really flashed at safety as a rookie.

Potential Weaknesses: The Dolphins OL is LOL bad: call it like it is, it’s really the worst in the league. Chris Grier somehow was able to create an OL that includes a first rounder and multiple second rounders and have it still awful. If the Jets DL can’t take advantage of this group, serious questions should be asked.

Matchup: This is going to be an anemic game to watch. The Dolphins offense is gonna try to dink and dunk its way down the field and pray that Tua can stay healthy for 4 quarters as he is going to take some hits from this DL. The Dolphins are going to zero blitz Joe Flacco to death. Maybe he can hit a big go ball early to Elijah Moore to make Flores play the defense more conservatively. Joe Flacco is going to throw the ball up for grabs and it really is anyone’s guess if they’re going to be big plays and DPIs or turnovers.

Prediction: Dolphins 12 Jets 10

This game looks poised to be a game Red Zone forgot. I do think the Jets defense stops the skid of getting lit up for 40 points every week but this offense with Flacco falls just shorts and Zach Wilson is back leading the team in Houston.

Know Your Opponent: Buffalo Bills

The New York Jets have struggled mightily against AFC East opponents in recent years and, on Sunday, the best team in the division comes to MetLife.

Coaching: Sean McDermott is one of the 5 best coaches in the NFL. What he has done in his first 4 years in Buffalo has been remarkable. He and DC Leslie Frazier put out a strong defense year after year and OC Brian Daboll is one of the best play-callers in all of football.

Personnel: The 2021 Bills offense is not the fire breathing dragon it was in 2020 but it is still an extremely talented unit. Josh Allen is still a very good QB, Stefon Diggs is still one of the 5 best WRs in football and Emmanuel Sanders, Dawson Knox, and Gabe Davis make it one of the best skill groups in the league.

The Bills defense has been one of the best in the league this year. Tre White, Levi Wallace,Micah Hyde, and Jordan Poyer are the best secondary in the NFL. Matt Milano remains one of the most underrated players in the league at LB and the Bills have a lot of depth along their Dline.

Potential Weaknesses: the Bills offensive line, especially the interior, is not good. It’s a position GM Brandon Beane has ignored and it’s starting to hurt the Bills. In all 3 of their losses this season their OL woes have been their demise.

Matchup: it’s very hard to project what is going to happen with the Jets defense week to week. On the road their DL rarely shows up and they look like the worst defense in the league. The DL has been much better at MetLife and I think that’s going to continue on Sunday and the Jets defense keeps the Bills offense in check. I think it’s going to be a rough day for the Jets offense against this well-disciplined defense.

Prediction: Bills 23 Jets 9 Mike White was fun, and I think he’s a very capable back-up QB going forward and would like him on the Jets in 2022 and beyond. There are levels to this game though, and I think we see that today and Zach Wilson is back under center next week in Miami.

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