This offseason we’ll take a look at all 32 NFL teams’ most pressing needs heading into the 2018-19 season. Next up is a franchise that hasn’t appeared in the Super Bowl for 50 years: The New York Jets.
The Jets were hyped as one of the league’s worst teams entering last season, but they ultimately finished closer to mediocre with a 5-11 record. Year 4 of the Todd Bowles era will require plenty of turnover on both sides of the ball. The offense faces the prospect of losing key starters in Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Quincy Enunwa in addition to pieces on the offensive line, while the defense could move on from starters at all three levels of the unit.
General manager Mike Maccagnan has plenty of ammo to work with, as the Jets have the fourth-most cap space in the league heading into the draft. Former quarterback coach turned offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates will be tasked with putting together a competent unit, and the coaching staff will have its hands full with the league’s sixth-youngest roster. They’re fully expected to draft a quarterback in the first round after trading the No. 6, No. 37, and No. 49 overall picks (along with a 2019 second-round pick) for the No. 3 overall pick. Isaiah Crowell will replace recently retired Matt Forte.
Need No. 1: Quarterback
McCown gifted Jets fans nearly unprecedented quarterback play last season, as he posted the third-best completion rate and fourth-best quarterback rating and averaged the eighth-most passing yards per game in franchise history. The Jets have resigned him and he’ll enter next season as their starter. Still, they’re expected to address the position in the draft regardless of the soon to be 39-year old. Christian Hackenberg still hasn’t thrown a regular season pass, and the early returns haven’t been pretty. Overall, Hackenberg has posted a 48.8 percent completion rate and 4.4 yards per attempt with a 3:4 touchdown:interception ratio in six preseason games. Bryce Petty has compiled a 4:10 TD:INT ratio with a 1-6 record in his seven regular season starts over the past two seasons.
The Jets signed Teddy Bridgewater to a one-year deal to provide depth, but may be forced to select whichever quarterback falls to them at No. 3. Our top-five quarterbacks in our post-combine quarterback rankings are Sam Darnold, Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Allen.
Telling Stat: McCown’s average of 7.26 adjusted yards per pass attempt last season was the fourth-best single-season mark in franchise history, but just the 15th-highest mark among the league’s 34 quarterbacks to start at least six games in 2017.
Need No. 2: Defensive End
The Jets’ 18th-ranked defense in Football Outsiders’ Defense-Adjusted Value Over Average again proved to be stouter against the run than pass, boasting the league’s 11th-ranked defense in rush DVOA compared to the 22nd-ranked group against the pass. The secondary isn’t without blame, but the defensive front needs reinforcements after Richardson was shipped off to Seattle. Leonard Williams is a special talent at defensive tackle, but Muhammad Wilkerson is gone, and the team’s defensive ends totaled just 2.5 total sacks last season. Overall, linebacker Demario Davis led the team with five sacks, and the Jets didn’t have a defensive end graded among Pro Football Focus’ 45 top pass-rushing edge defenders.
Not having a pass rush isn’t exactly new for the Bowles-led Jets, and they’ve paid the price upon facing the game’s best offensive lines.
- Jets vs. top-10 units in adjusted sack rate (12 games): 4-8, 26.6 points allowed, 359.3 total yards, 257.8 pass yards
- All other games (36 games): 16-20, 21.8 points allowed, 330.6 total yards, 231 pass yards
It’s tough for any defense to stop the game’s best passers, but the Jets have consistently fallen short due in large part to a pass rush that’s ranked 21st, 32nd, and 25th in adjusted sack rate since 2015. The defense is fairly strong up the middle at all three levels, but adding more capable bodies on the edge will be vital to improving a pass defense that hasn’t recovered since Revis Island was deserted.
Telling Stat: The Jets have a league-low 55 sacks over the past two seasons.
Need No. 3: Pass Catchers
The Jets aren’t devoid of talent at receiver, but it’s uncertain what the position group will look like in 2018. Robby Anderson could face league punishment for his latest arrest, ASJ is an unrestricted free agent, and Quincy Enunwa is a restricted free agent coming back from a season-ending neck injury. Jermaine Kearse is coming off a career-best 65-810-5 season, but he’s probably best served as an offense’s second- or third-best receiver. The potential loss of Anderson would be an especially tough pill to swallow, as he led the league with seven touchdowns of 20-plus yards and opened up the rest of the offense with his 4.3-second speed.
The Jets want ASJ back, but it’s unclear whether he wants to return. The Jets have addressed the wide receiver position plenty in recent seasons, drafting ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen, and Devin Smith within the first four rounds of the draft since 2015. Ultimately, they’ve combined for one touchdown and zero games with 50-plus yards. Last season the Jets attempted to use Jeremy Kerley as the slot receiver to complement Anderson and Kearse, but Kerley was later released following a PED-related suspension. It’s clear the front office isn’t afraid to use high picks on the position, but the team also has capable slot options in free agency including Jordan Matthews and Kendall Wright.
Telling Stat: The Jets are one of just 10 teams with fewer than $15M devoted to their wide receivers, and currently nobody is spending less on tight ends.
- Cornerback: After a solid start to the season, Morris Clairborne was torched by the likes of Demaryius Thomas (8-93-1), Michael Thomas (9-93-1), Brandin Cooks (5-79-1), and Tyreek Hill (6-185-2) down the stretch. Claiborne will return in 2018 and get some help from former Rams’ No. 1 corner Trumaine Johnson. The rest of the group doesn’t offer much promise, as PFF didn’t grade a single Jets cornerback among the league’s 75 top corners in 2017. Overall, none of the seven Jets cornerbacks to play 15-plus snaps managed to allow fewer than 1.05 yards per cover snap, a feat accomplished by 70 defensive backs around the league.
- Interior Offensive Line: The Jets could lose starting center Wesley Johnson as well as several contributors from the league’s sixth- and fourth-worst offensive line in adjusted sack rate and adjusted line yards per rush. None of the team’s interior offensive linemen from last season had a PFF run- or pass-blocking grade above 45. The front office shouldn’t be shocked, as the Jets have used just three draft picks on guards and centers since 2010.
Daily fantasy players should know about NFL rookies before they’ve played a down of professional football because they are among the most misvalued assets in all of DFS. People who know NFL rookies have a significant DFS edge. The draft will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX, from April 26-28.
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