The Jets have not made the playoffs since 2010, and only really looked close in 2015 when they finished 10-6.
However, Gang Green are looking to move on from multiple failures in this modern era, under the leadership of their 2nd year QB Sam Darnold. The gunslinger Darnold faced a tough freshman year in 2018, but clearly has the ability to grow as a player.
Darnold plays a great deal like Brett Favre, and it was quite ironic that his best showing came against the Packers in week 16. In this game he threw for 341 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. While they eventually lost this game in Green Bay in overtime, that defeat cannot be on Darnold who played with tremendous touch.
Instead, the loss can be placed on former HC Todd Bowles who went run heavy to drain the clock, a decision that was potentially the last straw for the Jets front office. Adam Gase has made the switch from the AFC East rival Dolphins to replace Bowles. While the appointment of Gase received a mixed response, he comes with a reputation of improving QBs, which gives the Jets hope for this season.
Reasons to be hopeful
Aggressive free agency
The Eagles, Rams and Chiefs all embraced free agency aggressively while their QB is on a rookie contract. The Jets have followed this ideology, surrounding Sam Darnold with talent and improving their defence. Le’Veon Bell frustrated Steelers fans (and those that drafted him early in Fantasy) by sitting out the duration of the 2018 season, but the Jets will be happy to get one of the best running backs of his generation on ‘fresh legs’.
Bell, who may think he has something to prove this season, is a potential game changer to create a truly innovative offence.
The Jets also signed multiple time pro-bowler CJ Mosely to a large contract. The inside linebacker received $51 million guaranteed with the potential to reach $85 million over the next five years, a steep price for the former Ravens star. The Jets are clearly banking on Mosley being a leader for the defensive squad, aiming to replicate the strong defensive mentality prominent in Baltimore last year.
The BPA squad
Four times in the past five years the Jets have been picking within the first six picks of the draft. The players that have been chosen; Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, Sam Darnold and Quinnen Williams were described by draft experts as the ‘best player available’ in their respective years. For the Jets fortunes to really change, these players must form a foundation for greatness at Metlife.
Jamal Adams has a real sense of greatness in him, and has a high likelihood of being a franchise player for the defence. He could also count himself unlucky to narrowly miss out on all-pro honours in the past season.
Leonard Williams enters a contract year without making a huge impact on the league thus far. He is a challenging player to analyse as he has not had much talent around him until now. I would use Eagles star Fletcher Cox as an example of a player who was not elite until he was a few years into his career and had a bit more talent around him. In the words of my favourite NFL podcast, I truly believe Williams has the potential to make a similar improvement and ‘make the leap’ this year. Additionally, Quinnen Williams should assist in his namesake’s production. The Alabama standout was highly thought of before being drafted at number 3 and could assist in forming a destructive duo at the defensive line.
Reasons to be fearful
… It’s the Jets
A losing mentality is a tough thing to lose in sports. Rex Ryan led the Jets to back to back AFC Championship games in 2009 & 2010, the Jets have failed to make the playoffs since.
They have only won 9 games in the past 32 and the removal of Todd Bowles as HC was inevitable.
Gase may not have been the popular choice in NY, but he has led Miami to the playoffs. The ultra-competitive new DC Gregg Williams should assist in changing the ethos of the team, as he was able to turn the Browns D into a turnover machine last year. However, plans are a lot easier said than put into practice, therefore we will need to see the changes on the field first. Furthermore, it is always a challenge to beat Brady and Belichick to the AFC East.
O Line worries
I worry about the amount of talent on the O Line that the Jets have. Bell’s game is built upon a patient analysis of available running routes and I am concerned whether the middling veterans of the Jets can maximise holes like the Steelers line was able to. Darnold has also had fumble issues, therefore progress must be made to keep him upright.
Sean’s way too early prediction which will come back to bite him in 2020