Is Safety a Position of Strength for the 2021 Jets?

Will Parkinson shares his thoughts on the 2021 Jets’ safety room.

When the Jets traded Jamal Adams last year, nobody knew what to expect out of the safety room. Adams was an all-pro player, and while Marcus Maye is talented, the room had a gaping hole from a leadership and talent perspective. However, through the 2020 season, the Jets learned just how good of a player and leader Marcus Maye is and also saw serious flashes from Ashtyn Davis during his up and down rookie campaign. As the Jets go into 2021, the safety room looks like it could be a bright spot on a feisty defense. The group is deep and should produce, whether it’s another dominant year for Marcus Maye, a year two improvement from Ashtyn Davis, or a return to consistent play from LaMarcus Joyner, who is moving back to his natural position.

For Marcus Maye, 2020 was a career year, as he emerged as one of the League’s better safeties even without his tag team partner, Jamal Adams. Maye posted an 82.9 grade according to PFF in 2020, the highest of his career while playing both the center field free safety role and the box strong safety role. Sam Monson of PFF mentioned on the TOJ Pod that Maye’s ability to play in the slot and in the box makes him even more valuable than Adams going into 2021. This further supported his ranking of Maye as the seventh-best safety in the NFL, while putting Adams at 10th. Erik Coleman, who is a former Jets safety, also mentioned the importance of Maye getting extended, noting his “great leadership, both vocally and doing things the right way, to earn that next contract” on the TOJ Pod on Friday. The bottom line for the Jets is that Maye has been one of the lone bright spots over the past four years and certainly warrants getting a new contract. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted that Maye and the Jets will likely not be coming to an extension agreement before the July 15th deadline, so it will be interesting to see how it affects the locker room. Maye is deserving of an extension, but Jets GM Joe Douglas has not shown a willingness to pay non-premium positions big money. That, in tandem with Maye being 28 years old, means that it’s likely that he will play on the franchise tag in 2021 and have his contract situation revisited after the season.

One of the biggest keys to the Jets defense taking a big step in 2021 is the development of Ashytn Davis. The second-year safety from Cal Berkley flashed in 2020. On the other hand, he did struggle a bit, specifically against the Chiefs and teams who attacked him vertically. Jamal Adams previously mentioned that the biggest adjustment from college, and growing from year one to two, was developing his eyes. The speed of the game in the NFL is so much faster than the speed of the college game. As a result, if you catch yourself peaking into the backfield or watching guys’ eyes instead of their hips, and only play off your instincts, then you risk getting torched. Coleman mentioned his struggles in rookie-camp, watching Wayne Chrebet’s eyes and having to learn to just “play football” and not overthink. Davis is a top-tier athlete who makes plays on the football. If he is deployed in more “cover 1” and “cover 3” in this new scheme, he could grow into the Jets’ long-term answer at safety.

Lastly, a key to the Jets safety group playing better in 2021, is Lamarcus Joyner. Joyner is a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Jets, especially if he can return to 2017 form. Safety is his natural position and had a career-best PFF grade of 91.0. Joyner is a talented football player but struggled out of position as a slot corner with the Raiders in 2019 and 2020. The Jets are hoping that, with a return to his natural position and change of scenery, they can get Joyner’s 2017 play

With Joyner hoping to return to his old form and Davis looking to take a leap in year two, the Jets are set up with strong depth and flexibility at the free safety position, while Marcus Maye dominates the strong safety position. Having built a top-tier defensive line and a returning star LB in CJ Mosley, the Jets should be able to cover up their question marks at corner, given their strength at safety. If they can do that, the Jets will be in a position almost every week to compete and give their young talented quarterback a chance to win a bunch of ball games.

What are fair expectations for Elijah Moore?

Will Parkinson offers his thoughts on Elijah Moore.

The hype train is humming over at One Jets Drive over the Jets second round pick Elijah Moore. The rookie wideout from Ole Miss who lead college football in yards per game last season has impressed in OTAs and minicamps thus far and the excitement from the coaching staff and fan base is skyrocketing. The question I, and many others, keep getting asked is “what are realistic expectations?” or “what is Elijah Moore’s ceiling?” The 5’9″, 178 lb. speedster is hoping to take the NFL and his Jets career by storm.

There have been many comparisons to Elijah Moore’s game and size from players like Steve Smith, Santana Moss and Tyreek Hill to guys like Antonio Brown and current Jet Jamison Crowder. While it is lofty praise for the 21 year old to be compared to Antonio Brown, who is arguably the best wideout over the past decade in the NFL, draft analyst Ryan Roberts said on the TOJ Pod that he would be wary of doing so: “…wow, that is some comparison and am a bit wary of something like that.” While Roberts didn’t feel great about the comparison, he did mention Moore’s elite ability to get open and create space saying that Moore is “…one of the best manipulators of space in this year’s draft.” While Moore’s style is like Brown’s, Moore has also reminded a lot of scouts and fans of Steve Smith and Santana Moss for their game breaking speed and ability in tight space but being incredible tough slot receivers with minimal drops. Moore has reps from the X and Z position as well but will function mostly out of the slot in this west coast Shanahan scheme for gang green. For the Jets’ sake, if Moore turns out to be any of the aforementioned players at pick at 34, he will be a homerun pick and building block for the future. 

Rookie wideouts have had the ability to come into the NFL right away over the past 2 years and make instant impacts, especially guys who possess an elite trait. Big bodied late 1st and 2nd round receivers like D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, Chase Claypool, Tee Higgins, AJ Brown and Brandon Aiyuk have all seen success because of their size, speed and ball skills early in their career. For guys like Justin Jefferson and Deebo Samuel who have used their elite quickness and route running to make massive impacts out of a primary slot position early in their careers. Jefferson and Samuel offer a great platform for a guy like Moore who posses those qualities and will be in a very similar scheme to the ones ran in Minnesota and San Francisco. 

Long term what kind of career is he projected to have? If you look at where he can get to as his NFL ceiling it becomes a bit more challenging. NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah has mentioned Moore as “an outstanding route runner” and a “natural hands catcher,” which bodes well for Moore becoming one of the top slot wideouts in the NFL and someone who projects to be a heavy-target option going forward. In today’s NFL you don’t have to be the traditional big bodied X wideout to be a team’s #1 guy, and it is realistic to think Moore will be that guy over the next 5-7 years. He is a guy who will be talked about down the line as an 80 catch, 1200-yard, 8-10 touchdown a year player who is always in contention to be pro bowl level player. It’s something the Jets have been looking for since the days of Keyshawn and Coles, and Joe Douglas hopes this is the Jets cornerstone offensive weapon of the future.

The Path to Back to Relevance

Stephen Russo offers his thoughts on Joe Douglas’ tenure as GM.

It’s a cautious step, Jets fans.  But a step nonetheless. The step I am referring to is the step out of dysfunction that Joe Douglas has seemingly taken. Weeding through the disarray and continuous blunders of a failed organization over the last decade is no easy task, but we are seeing light at the end of this tunnel. Anyone with a pulse can feel the collective optimism of our beloved and passionate Jets fan base: we have hope. We are 6 months removed from the worst Head Coach in Jets history who capped off the worst decade of football that we have all experienced. But the path to competence and relevance is paved right in front of us, courtesy of Joe D.

The peak of free agency was highlighted by big moves to sign an edge rusher in Carl Lawson and give the Jets something they haven’t had in 15 years, a big bodied wide receiver who can be a red zone and middle of the field threat in Corey Davis, and some quality under-the-radar signings like Keelan Cole and LaMarcus Joyner.

Douglas followed this up with an absolutely stellar draft. Not a single soul can argue with any of the first 4 picks. The Jets (finally!) entered the 21st century and drafted offensive players! They got their quarterback, traded up for arguably the safest pick in the draft in Alijah Vera-Tucker at a position of need and solidified the left side of their offensive line, and then followed those up with the explosive Elijah Moore in the second round and running back Michael Carter in the fourth. Weapons! Offense! Points!

To cap off the offseason, late last week Douglas made a deal with free agent Right Tackle Morgan Moses, formerly of the Washington Football Team. Moses, 30, has been nothing short of steady and reliable and has started every game for Washington since 2016. This move solidifies a premium position while providing depth and reliability at swing tackle in George Fant. With this signing, Douglas has essentially rebuilt the entire offensive line in 2 off-seasons.

When Joe Douglas took the Jets’ General Manager job in 2019, he knew he’d have to roll up his sleeves to clean up the mess that he was left.  Years of bad drafts, horrible contracts, and a myriad of terrible organizational decisions paved the way for his hiring and the proverbial light to go off in Christopher Johnson’s head to finally right this ship.  Douglas was left with a barren roster completely devoid of talent, and the little talent he did have seemed to be in the wrong places.  He kept his eyes toward the future while assessing the present – both players and coaches – and began the clean up.  He has traded assets that he knew wouldn’t be long-term answers for this team and gotten remarkable value back for them.  He’s stockpiled draft picks to maximize his swings on the most important part of building (or re-building) your team from the ground up.   He’s shown a tremendous feel for the market, both on draft day (see Denzel Mims) and in free agency, where he not only can assess where a player should be valued, but also where the 31 other teams are valuing them.  Most importantly, he spearheaded a flawless coaching search in January.  He truly operated with a clean slate to hire someone he had never met before in Robert Saleh, who was arguably the best candidate on the market.  Now, Douglas, Saleh, and new quarterback Zach Wilson are in lockstep with each other, creating a necessary symmetry in the organization that they haven’t had in years.  

In 1997, Bill Parcells inherited a 1-15 team (4-28 in two seasons) from an atrocious head coach. He quickly launched that team to respectability and sparked the best 15-year run in team history. Can Joe Douglas have a similar “Parcells-ian” effect on the Jets organization, effectively hitting the reset button after years of missteps and gaffes to set the stage for a run at sustained success? It is a tall task, but the Jets could truly be at the starting line of something great.

Buckle those chin straps, Jets fans. For the first time in a long time, this is going to be fun. All Gas, No Brake!

TOJ Live ft. Stephen Rodriguez

The TOJ Live hosts interview Stephen Rodriguez of FTN and Bleav Podcasts.

Check out the latest episode of Turn on the Jets Live on Youtube!

Hosts Stephen Zantz and Stephen Russo chat with Stephen Rodriguez of Bleav Podcasts and FTN about a variety of Jets-related topics.

Continue reading “TOJ Live ft. Stephen Rodriguez”

TOJ Pod ft. Lindsay Jones of The Athletic

Will Parkinson chats with Lindsay Jones of the Athletic on this episode of TOJ Pod.

On this episode of TOJ Pod, Will Parkinson interviews Lindsay Jones, who is a senior writer for The Athletic covering the NFL and a frequent guest on The Athletic Football Podcast. Lindsay and Will chat about a variety of Jets-related topics including:

– The Zach Wilson Hype Train
– Potential Breakout Players
– How impressive was Robert Saleh in 2020
– Realistic Jets Expectations
– Watson or Rodgers to Denver?


The Draft SZN Finale

The guys discuss 2022 prospects on the last episode of Draft SZN.

On the last episode of Draft SZN, DA Osorio, Joe Belic, James Kuntz, and Michael Meegan discuss which rookies are most likely to win OROY and DROY and which players in the 2022 NFL Draft Jets fans should know about. We have some interesting discussions about…

-the likelihood of a non-Trevor Lawrence OROY
-some interesting DROY prop bets
-a 3rd round pick who James is positive will outplay his draft slot
-Meegs and DA’s love for two PAC 12 EDGE rusher prospects
-an SEC team that has a surprising amount of top prospects in next year’s draft
-and a 1st round WR prospect who is tailor-made for Zach Wilson’s playing style (guarantee you it’s not who you think)!


TOJ Pod: OTA Takeaways

Will Parkinson provides his thoughts a variety of Jets topics including the signing of Ronald Blair, his takeaways from OTAs, and a preview of upcoming guests.

On this episode of the Turn on the Jets podcast, Will Parkinson talks through:

– The Ronald Blair Signing

– OTA Takeways

– Morgan Mosses Visit

– Positional Battle Preview

– TOJ Guest Preview


UDFA Profile: Tristen Hoge

Joe Belic breaks down Tristen Hoge.

The selection of Alijah Vera-Tucker in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft filled a big hole up front, and the offensive line appears better equipped for the season ahead. However, right guard is still up for grabs, and a training camp face-off for the unclaimed spot will continue to be a big story.