In 2020, the New York Jets completed one of the most shameful seasons in the history of the franchise. Next up is an important offseason that sees them with tons of available resources. This includes two picks in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. However, there’s also the challenge of the Jets team needs that the club is forced to deal with.
Different components of the Jets’ roster, in which they were amongst the worst teams in the NFL, led the club to the bad year they had. Prior to the start of the 2021 season, general manager Joe Douglas will have to fill in all the holes and provide some much-needed balance. But that’s not all. Albeit not severe, they face the possibility of losing multiple starters in free agency and adding even more positions to the list of New York Jets team needs. The upcoming offseason is still set to be a busy one for Douglas and his staff.
Jets Team Needs
Secondary: Cornerback and Safety
First and foremost on the list of New York Jets team needs is the secondary. Of all the groups that failed miserably this past season, the Jets passing defense might be the worst unit on the whole roster. The Pierre Desir signing ended up as a huge bust, newcomers like Lamar Jackson disappointed, and Bradley McDougald was a liability as a strong safety.
The result – New York allowed 275.6 yards per game, the fifth-most in the National Football League.
Not only do the Jets have to find an answer to their problem on the outside against wideout receivers. Furthermore, they also have to deal with Marcus Maye and Brian Poole‘s expiring contracts. If both of them leave, New York will lose two of their most prolific players in coverage against the pass. Both had an allowed passer rating of 80.0 or under in more than 30 targets throughout the 2020 season.
But even if they both remain, Arthur Maulet, should he re-sign, Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin will be positioned to fight for the outside corner job. With passer rating figures in the 90.0 range, all have been average-to-good, with room to grow. However, none might be proven enough to be trusted in that spot. Therefore, the aforementioned names might remain as depth pieces while New York searches for answers to this item on the list of Jets team needs.
Next up on the list of New York Jets team needs is a wide receiver. Undoubtedly, one of the most consequential Jets team needs in the past two offseasons has been Sam Darnold‘s receiving corps. In 2019, Darnold was fairly solid with Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson in a receiving core that lacked depth. However, the 2020 passing unit was the zenith of all struggles.
It all started in March. That was when Joe Douglas lost Robby Anderson and replaced him with Breshad Perriman. Moreover, the team brought in Denzel Mims as a second-round pick and acquired Chris Hogan as a depth piece.
Perriman had a history of being an inefficient long-threat target in his previous four seasons as a pro. Mims was a rookie that needed time to fulfill his potential. It seemed that, apart from Crowder, the Jets’ corps promised not to make the most of their opportunities. This, for an offense that relies so heavily on the pass, was a worrying prospect. Unfortunately, that was exactly what transpired during the 2020 season, leaving the position on the list of Jets team needs once again.
New York had the worst offense in total yards and the main factor for that was the passing unit. With Denver and Philadelphia both recording more passing attempts, the Jets’ percentage would have been even worse if the three teams had the same number of throws made, according to that trend.
The players that most disappointed in that department were both within the top five of the Jets’ most-relied on targets. Firstly, Perriman, second in targets with 60, made just 30 catches – 50.0%. Secondly, Mims posted a catch percentage of just 52.3% on 44 targets. For comparison, Chris Herndon and Braxton Berrios both made more receptions while having fewer targets than Perriman.
The receiving corps is likely due for another overhaul. Perriman, who signed on a one-year deal 9 months ago, will join the free-agent market. With over $70 million in salary-cap space, the team is beyond capable of addressing one of the biggest Jets team needs heading into 2021.
Jets Team Needs: Tier Two
Offensive Line: Guard
The Jets had one of the worst offensive lines in 2019, so to say that that improvement up front would be a big part of the Jets team needs is an understatement. In saying so, Douglas is headed to the free-agent market to find four new starters. His search, which included star center Connor McGovern and first-rounder Mekhi Becton, seemed like a success in May. But that wasn’t the case throughout the campaign.
New York’s O-Line had a very weak year. Conceding 43 sacks, the group allowed the ninth-most in the league. Moreover, the Jets’ offensive line allowed 52 sacks, a drop of nine over last year. However, there’s a catch. The Jets had 90 passing attempts fewer this year, leading the sack/pass attempt to remain at about one sack every ten throws. This marks virtually no improvement on an investment of around $22 million on the four new starters.
The wandering continues during the 2021 offseason, with a chance for Douglas to fix his mistakes of the past. Alex Lewis, NY’s starting left guard, could be a strong candidate for release. Lewis started nine games before an off-field incident ended his season. Even when he started at left guard, he was present for just 55 percent of the team’s offensive snaps. That was less than any of his four teammates within the unit.
If New York elects to cut him, they would save $12 million over the next two years. It won’t be surprising for the team to look for another solution at LG to fix one of the worst O-lines in the NFL.
Last year, the Jets decided to pass on high-profile pass-rushers, like Jadeveon Clowney. New York might have been right to pass on the Tennessee Titan, who recorded zero sacks this past year. Nonetheless, the Jets’ defensive line, the 12th-worst, took another statistical hit, although it did climb in the ranks.
The Jets posted 31 sacks in 2020, four less than during 2019, despite playing 20 more defensive snaps. On the other hand, the Jets did improve from 23rd a year ago to 21st in a high-scoring offensive year for the NFL. NYJ could still use an upgrade in that department. However, this will continue to be a minor issue on the Jets team needs list considering the severity of the other units’ woes.
Last on the list of Jets team needs is a running back. New York’s running unit seemed much higher in the NFL hierarchy than the passing unit at one point. However, at the end of the day, the lack of talent has caught up. The group averaged 4.1 yards per carry, the seventh-fewest in the league.
The stories of the failure of this group in 2020 are endless. First, Le’Veon Bell, despite all the sky-high expectations, started just two games before an injury and a release. Then, Frank Gore took over the rushing duties and, oh boy, was it bad. The 16-year veteran only produced 3.5 yards per attempt on team-high 187 rushes. Rookie backfield weapon La’Mical Perine posted a similar number behind Gore. Only Ty Johnson and Josh Adams managed to provide a spark. However, they still didn’t have enough influence in a 55:45 split in the play selection.
The second round of the draft could be a good place for New York to add a running back. Both Travis Etienne and Najee Harris could be valuable additions as the Jets spend more on other assets in free agency. On the contrary, Kenyan Drake could also turn the Jets’ luck on the ground around. However, it might be more important to spend free-agent money on the aforementioned Jets team needs.