The Jets are generating some buzz around the NFL as one of the teams that might turn it around this year and might be able to sneak into the playoffs. That was probably based on the additions of Le’Veon Bell, Quinnen Williams, and Kelechi Osemele. There are 50 other players that will be on the roster for Sunday’s game against the Bills, and that’s where some of the question marks come in.
Offensive Line (8): Ryan Kalil, Alex Lewis, Kelechi Osemele, Brian Winters, Tom Compton, Jonnothan Harrison, Chuma Edoga, Brandon Shell
Running Backs (4): Le’Veon Bell, Ty Montgomery, Bilal Powell, Trenton Cannon
Quarterbacks (2): Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian
Wide Receivers (6): Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa, Jamison Crowder, Josh Bellamy, Braxton Berrios
Tight Ends (3): Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco, Daniel Brown
Defensive Line (9): Leonard Williams, Quinnen Williams, Henry Anderson, Folorunso Fatukasi, John Franklin-Myers, Bronson Kaufusi, Steve McLendon, Kyle Phillips, Nathan Shepherd
Linebackers (8): Tarell Basham, Blake Cashman, Neville Hewitt, Jordan Jenkins, Harvey Langi, Frankie Luvu, Albert McLellan, C.J. Mosley
Cornerbacks (5): Nate Hairston, Trumaine Johnson, Arthur Maulet, Brian Poole, Darryl Roberts
Safeties (5): Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Matthias Fairley, Bennett Jackson, Rontez Miles
Special Teams (3): Kaare Vedvik (K), Lachlan Edwards (P), Thomas Hennessy (LS)
Analysis: The Jets made national news with the surprise of third-round pick Jachai Polite. as well as one of Darnold’s oldest weapons in Deontay Burnett, but other than that it was pretty straightforward. There were issues with Polite’s actions off the football field and inaction on it
The rosters glaring weakness lies at cornerback, which looks very beatable. Although he’s supposed to play week one, Trumaine Johnson is still recovering from a hamstring injury and had an off year last year, his first with the Jets. Darryl Roberts has been spotty at times, and Maulet, Poole, and Hairston are in their first year on the Jets. Hairston has been a Jet less than a week. Hairston was released by the Colts due to an abundance of young skill in their secondary, and very easily could end up being a big addition to this Jets team. Poole looks like a gritty upgrade over Buster Skrine, and Maulet looks like a decent emergency option.
Kicker is another issue for the Jets, who let Pro-bowler Jason Myers take his talents to Seattle in free agency and now feature Norwegian-born Kaare Vedvik, who looked good for the Ravens in preseason last year, but went 1-for-4 this year in preseason for the Vikings. Vedvik does have the longest punt in the NCAA since 1972, a 92-yard punt, so at least we know he has a powerful leg.
Joe Douglas did a good job shoring up the offensive line this offseason, adding Osemele, Lewis, and coaxing Kalil out of retirement. Douglas may also be looking to drop a defensive linemen like Shepherd or Phillips if the right quarterback becomes available as Adam Gase, the former quarterbacks coach is likely pressuring him to add a third arm.
The tight end group which is short Chris Herndon for four games due to suspension is upheld by newly added Ryan Griffin, who had 300 yards last year, and intriguing rookie Trevon Wesco. Wesco did not make a catch in the preseason, but his blocking popped off the screen and he has tremendous upside.
The Jets are also in a tough spot at linebacker, having lost Avery Williamson for the season with a torn ACL, a major blow to the defense. Mosley and Hewitt are starting at ILB, but Hewitt could lose his starting job to Blake Cashman if his problems in coverage become a larger issue. Look for Douglas to be making some changes here, maybe swapping out Langi, a surprise on the 53 man roster, for a veteran option.
The Jets wide receivers look solid, assuming everyone can stay on the field. Anderson, Enunwa, and Crowder offer Darnold a diversified receiving portfolio. Crowder could be the sneaky second addition alongside Bell that makes the offense tough to stop.
Not to mention Sam freakin’ Darnold, who should take massive strides in year two. He called himself spastic in the pocket last year, but looked much more comfortable in the pocket during the preseason, building on the improvements he had in the second half of 2018.
Season Prediction: 8-8
The Jets are too thin at corner to compete. Plain and simple. Trumaine Johnson did not look like himself last year, and while it might have been more of an off year than a preview of things to come, it’s not a good sign that he is not yet healthy. Anytime the Jets will have to play a team with two or more quality receivers, their only hope of winning is going to be to air it out offensively, which the Jets will be able to do a lot more this year with Crowder and Bell. Bell gives Darnold a reliable quick option out of the backfield, and when Herndon gets back from suspension the Jets third-down offense could be scary. If they make a trade for Patrick Peterson or A.J. Bouye I could see this team pushing New England for the AFC East crown, but without more help for Gregg Williams in the secondary, this team will struggle. Look for improvements on both lines, and for the Jets to be in exciting 70 point games and draft six corners next May.