Three Questions for Every AFC East Team: Jets Edition

Aug 8, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

NFL teams are in an interesting situation between a wild free agency and an NFL Draft that provides tons of depth. After an offseason shake-up, that applies to the AFC East more than to any other division in the league.

Tom Brady left the division for the first time in 30 years. The Jets lost their top receiver. The Bills got an excellent target by trading for Stefon Diggs. The Dolphins spent a lot in many different areas, seeking to balance out one of the NFL’s worst teams last year.

The AFC East has the possibility of being the most interesting it’s ever been. Buffalo might be looking like the most potent team in the AFC East, but they aren’t invincible either. Here’re their questions, alongside those for the other three teams:

In this edition, we’ll focus on the Jets’ issues and leave the other three AFC East teams for Parts 2-4.

New York Jets

Can the offensive line finally shine?

As we’ve previously discussed here, the Jets offensive line needs to be a lot better for them to even have any chance of providing effective functioning.

It was bad enough that they finished top 10 in most allowed sacks, 4th to be accurate. However, they’ve suffered from that for the third time in the last three years. What is even worse is that it mightily affected their rushing attack in Leveon Bell’s first year in New York. The former Pittsburgh running back averaged 52.6 yards per game, his worst since coming into the NFL in 2013.

Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and the re-signed Alex Lewis were pretty good moves in free agency. However, George Fant’s injury problems and lack of playing time make him a liability. Possible first-round pick Andrew Thomas could be the answer at tackle, with his reported strength being the help in the running game. Nevertheless, with both Fant and Thomas naturally left tackles, someone will have to move to the right.

Is the pass-rush powerful enough?

The Jets’ front seven started 2019 with high expectations. As it’s every year with the Jets bringing pressure, it turned out to be a disappointment.

Henry Anderson didn’t deliver, Leorand Williams ended up getting traded to the Giants, and the Jets finished 23rd with 35 sacks. On the other hand, they defended the running game with significantly more success. Therefore, one of their biggest targets this upcoming free agency was set to strictly be a pass-rushing frontward power.

Joe Douglas is yet to address this issue. With Jadaveon Clowney still on the market, he’s more likely to adopt him as his next target. Clowney, who has 22.5 sacks in the last three seasons, remains unsigned after demanding nearly $20 million per year. The Jets could afford to overpay, although the lousy effect is always felt when a lack of production meets an unfriendly deal in the long-term.

The Jets have $32 million available to spend. Another suitable candidate is Everson Griffen, among others. However, Derek Wolfe going to Baltimore significantly hurt the pool of available players. 

The worst-case scenario of overpaying for Clowney comes if the NFL season is canceled, which still seems unlikely. But that could, not necessarily would, mean a drop in the salary cap for the first time in more than a decade. However, it’s undoubtedly worth paying him what he demands because his potential is tremendous, over-the-top numbers are just a matter of time. That’s also a team need.

What’s the late-round priority in the Draft?

The plan for the upcoming NFL Draft (April 23–25) seems to be precise – a lineman in the first round and then the best remaining receiver with the 48th pick. After that, the Jets still have holes big enough to make a plan, but most of the job is left to their creativity.

Looking past the second round, the Jets could target one of the three quality safeties in the middle of the draft – Ashtyn Davis, Kyle Duggar, and Terrell Burgess. Another good move would be a cornerback, possibly Bryce Hall of Virginia or Darnay Holmes of UCLA in the third round. If they choose a safety, Tajan Bandy and Lamar Jackson are excellent corners that they can squeeze in the middle-to-late rounds.

Derrell Taylor seems like an underrated edge rusher to continue the draft selection in the fourth or the fifth round. The draft is likely to feature another receiver. It may be Quartney Davis, Lynn Bowden, Michael Pittman or another, and conclude with a running back to help out Bell.

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