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New York Jets Off-Season Could Spark a Big Turnaround

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The New York Jets offseason plans are on the minds of Jets fans everywhere. Sure, life has been difficult for the New York Jets in recent years. Since they made it to the AFC Conference Championship game in 2010 (second time in two years might I add) they have had one winning season and never made it back to the playoffs.

In that same time span they have gone through three head coaches (Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles, and Adam Gase) and now they find themselves looking for a fourth. The Jets have one winning season, two seasons at .500, and seven losing seasons. Five of which have come in a row between 2016 and 2020. Since 2010 they have also managed to only send seven different players to the Pro Bowl.

But, could that all be about to change during the next New York Jets offseason?

After another abysmal season where the Jets finished with a record of 2-14 and had the worst-ranked offense in the league, they finally sacked head coach Adam Gase. It has felt like Gase has been on borrowed time for a while now and was kept in the job to secure another losing season and the number one pick in the 2021 draft. In typical Jets fashion, however, he couldn’t even do that right. Heading into Week 15 the New York Jets sat at 0-13 and would face the 9-5 Los Angeles Rams, the 10-4 Cleveland Browns, and the 6-9 New England Patriots to close out the season.

Gase would somehow manage to get wins over both the Browns and the Rams before losing the final game of his Jets tenure to the Patriots. In winning these two games he ruined the New York Jets offseason chances at the number one pick and forced them to have to settle with the second. Now that Trevor Lawrence (everyone’s choice at number one) is off the table should the Jets roll the dice on Sam Darnold?

2018 New York Jets offseason Brought False Hope

When the Jets took Sam Darnold with the third pick of the 2018 draft they thought they were drafting their quarterback for the next ten to twenty years. At the University of Southern Carolina, Darnold finished his career with 7,229 yards, 57 touchdowns, 22 interceptions, and a completion percentage of 64.9. Why wouldn’t the Jets think they had their man? Unfortunately for them, his NFL career hasn’t quite planned out how they would want it to.

In his three seasons in the NFL, he has already thrown 37 interceptions and only 41 touchdown passes. Darnold has failed to impress but a lot of the blame for this has to go with the coaching staff and their inability to find a system to suit the young quarterback. He is obviously talented, as shown by his college career, so surely they can find a system to make it work.

If the New York Jets do decide to roll the dice on Darnold then this could be the season to trade away a high pick. With a number of young talented quarterbacks in the 2021 draft and a number of NFL teams looking for the next face of their franchise, the Jets could secure themselves a nice package for their second pick and add even more talent to a New York Jets offseason that is primed to be huge already,

There are potentially nine other teams who could be in the market for a new quarterback if the price was right. Washington Football Team, Chicago Bears, New York Giants, Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers, Indianapolis Colts, San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, and the Atlanta Falcons (obviously the Jacksonville Jaguars are as well but surely they have already submitted their ticket to Roger Goodell).

FOXBOROUGH, MA – JANUARY 03: Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets passes the ball against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 3, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

New York Jets Offseason Starts at the Top

Before the New York Jets offseason additions can happen, the Jets need to find themselves a new Head Coach. As luck would have it, just like a large number of quarterbacks coming out of the draft, there are also a lot of possible Head Coaches available for the Jets to secure. This is the most important decision the Jets upper brass have to make. One thing that is constant for successful teams to win a Super Bowl is to have a top-notch head coach.

Bill Belichick has spent 20 years at the New England Patriots and has been hugely successful, Mike Tomlin has spent 14 years at the Pittsburgh Steelers and hasn’t had a losing season and John Harbaugh has been with the Baltimore Ravens for 13 seasons and only has one losing season.

Consistency is key for Head Coaches and this notion of changing them after one or two seasons is not viable and has to stop. In order to change the nature of an organization, you need time to work away at it. How does the saying go, “Rome wasn’t built in a day”, neither were successful franchises in the NFL. With the number of Head Coaches potentially available (Eric Bieniemy, Robert Saleh, Urban Meyer, Joe Brady, and Brian Daboll to name a few) the Jets have a chance to find their man for the long haul. 

NEW YORK JETS CURRENT SQUAD

The first thing on the New York Jets offseason list is to get a head coach. So, what will the new Head Coach be walking into? Well, when you take away the years of losing seasons and the culture that comes with it you actually have a team that has plenty of draft capital and a handful of draft picks. First and foremost you have a quarterback that is more than capable of leading a team that you can build around.

You have a left guard in Mekhi Becton who has had a stellar rookie campaign. In Denzel Mims, you have a young wide receiver who, once he returned from his injury, looked dynamic and averaged 15.5 yards on his 23 receptions.

Defensively, you have Quinnen Williams who has looked like one of the best defensive ends in football. CJ Mosely is set to return for the 2021 season who is an excellent middle linebacker. As well as Marcus Maye and Brian Poole who along with the rest of the secondary have improved as the season has gone on. Most importantly though you have over 70 million in cap space for 2021 and nine draft picks, five of which are in the first three rounds. That is a situation any Head Coach should be licking their lips at. The talent on that side of the ball makes it a lower priority on the New York Jets offseason plans than offense is.

DETROIT, MI – SEPTEMBER 10: Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets exits the field after the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The Jets won 48 to 17 on September 10, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

New York Jets offseason wish-list

The 2021 offseason is going to be full of stars potentially looking for a new home. If I was the new Head Coach I would be finding myself a star running back to take some of the pressure away from my quarterback and who will be able to take full advantage of my brand new offensive line. The man for that job, Aaron Jones. Jones has had an excellent career in Green Bay behind one of the league’s best offensive lines.

Since coming into the league in 2017 he has 37 touchdowns, he averages 5.2 yards per carry and most importantly he doesn’t give the ball away. From 651 attempts he has fumbled the ball four times and only lost it twice. A powerful, strong, consistent runner is exactly what the Jets need and Jones fits all those categories. 

Next I would look at the wide receivers that are coming up in free agency, and there are certainly a few options. Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, and Marvin Jones Jr are all available but I would be looking elsewhere. Ju Ju Smith-Schuster is where I would be spending my money. Another player who came into the league in 2017 has grown into a very dependable wide receiver in the crucial moments for the Steelers.

If we forget about the 2019 season in Pittsburgh, Smith-Schuster has three seasons with over 800 receiving yards, he has at least seven touchdown receptions in each season, and is averaging over 12 yards per reception. He has excelled when there are other threats at the wide receiver position. In 2020 Pittsburgh had Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson, and James Washington all drawing attention and Smith-Schuster had his highest number of touchdowns in a season ever. If the Jets get a wide receiver in the draft as well as having Mims and Jamison Crowder then Smith-Schuster could excel in this offense.

Whilst looking at the Pittsburgh roster you would probably take a look at star pass rusher Bud Dupree. Improving every year in the league, Dupree was on course for his best season ever before he tore his ACL and was forced to sit out. Consistently improving year to year Bud Dupree has turned into one of the premier edge players in the league and will be available in 2021. Playing on the franchise tag in 2020 Dupree played eleven games and racked up eight sacks. There will be a lot of talk about how he recovers from the injury but if he makes a full recovery he will be highly sought after.

All in all the New York Jets are in a great position to turn their fortunes around and maybe think about a few winning seasons. With the New England Patriots’ reign in the AFC East coming to an end, the Jets need to move quickly if they want to keep up with the Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Whether or not they go with any of the names mentioned above, the 2021 offseason is loaded with draft talent and free agents and provides a great opportunity for a team with plenty of cap space. If the Jets can get the right man at the helm then who knows maybe there are a few winning seasons in their future.

2021 DRAFT

After free agency, the focus of the New York Jets offseason can switch to the 2021 NFL draft. the New York Jets have some pieces they need in order to compete but let’s not beat about the bush, they still require to bring in a lot of new talent. Luckily for them, they have the means to do it. When free agency opens up the Jets are in a favorable position that they will be able to go after just about anyone they want to.

First and foremost they need to sort out the offensive line. Let’s say that they stay with the number two pick and don’t trade back, the sensible choice would be Penei Sewell from Oregon. The 6 foot 6, 330-pound tackle would add some much-needed power to an offensive line that has to give Darnold a chance to operate.

After the blockbuster trade with the Seattle Seahawks for Jamal Admas, the New York Jets also have their first-round pick in 2021. The position of that pick is yet to be determined but if he is still available then the Jets would do well to add Rashod Bateman, the wide receiver out of Minnesota.

After nearly opting out of the 2020 season, Bateman went on to average 20.3 yards per reception before opting to sit out of the final three games of the season due to worries about COVID. A big wide receiver with deep threat potential and excellent route-running ability is just one of the weapons that Sam Darnold needs. 

New York still has another seven picks through the 2021 draft where they will be able to bolster the offensive line and find some defensive stars. Now the small matter of the 70 million dollars in cap space. That is a lot of cap space and picks in order to turn the New York Jets offseason into a great one.

Thanks for reading my article about the New York Jets offseason plans, follow me on Twitter @steelers_mark and also follow OTH_Football.

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – OCTOBER 19: Penei Sewell #58 of the Oregon Ducks looks on in the fourth quarter against the Washington Huskies during their game at Husky Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
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