Following a 5-11 2017 season, the New York Jets have been quite active in the offseason thus far, but the future appears to be a bit brighter. Let’s take a look at the team’s biggest strength and weakness heading into 2018.
Once upon a time, the New York Jets had not only one of the NFL’s most feared defenses, but one of the leagues most well-rounded and talented defenses as well. That strength had seemed to abandon the team in recent memory, but it appears as if the team’s defense is once again developing into a force to be reckoned with. Specifically in the secondary, which is certainly a strength for Gang Green heading into 2018.
Adams, who was selected sixth overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, not only emerged as a team leader and a much-needed locker room presence, but he performed well on the field too, totaling 83 tackles, 2.0 sacks and one fumble recovery. Sure he has some improvements to make, but he’ll likely continue to shine in 2018.
Maye, on the other hand, was selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Jets and he too saw success early on, totaling 79 tackles, two interceptions, and one fumble recovery. In addition to Adams and Maye, cornerbacks Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine also saw moments of success last season and they will likely only continue to improve with the signing of Trumaine Johnson. Expect to see Johnson now serve as the Jets’ No. 1 cornerback, allowing Claiborne to move into the No. 2 spot and Skrine to move back to his more natural spot as a nickel back.
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Overall, the future appears to be extremely bright for the Jets’ secondary and the group as a whole will need to be on point in 2018 given that there are indeed some questions surrounding the team’s defensive line and linebacker positions.
With that being said, we’ll now move on to the team’s biggest weakness heading into the new season, which is a bit more difficult to pinpoint. Obviously, following back-to-back losing seasons the team has much to improve on, but there are indeed a few areas that stand out more so than others when looking at team weaknesses.
Sticking with the defense, it’s become incredibly evident that the Jets are in dire need of a legitimate edge rusher at outside linebacker, which the team hasn’t possessed since head coach Todd Bowles took over at the helm in 2015.
General manager Mike Maccagnan has attempted to fill the role in recent memory, drafting Lorenzo Mauldin in 2015 and Jordan Jenkins in 2016, but neither has blossomed into the type of player that Maccagnan was likely hoping for.
Without a dangerous weapon occupying this position, opposing offensive lines have been able to double Leonard Williams, limiting his production quite a bit in terms of sacks and the amount of pressure he’s been able to put on opposing quarterbacks. It’s unlikely that the Jets add a player at this position prior to the 2018 season, meaning it’ll continue to be a big weakness as of now.
Moving on, the Jets’ offensive line also remains a notable weakness to some degree. In 2017, the line was, at times, downright brutal, finishing fifth in the league with highest sack percentage allowed. The group also gave up 47 sacks, which ranked seventh-most in the league, while also ranking 19th in rushing yards per game.
The team, however, has made some changes in hopes of improving the line, bringing in Rick Dennison to serve as the new offensive line coach in addition to signing veteran center Spencer Long. Last season, the majority of the issues stemmed from the center position, which was occupied by Wesley Johnson, but if Long remains healthy, these issues could become less of a concern.
With a solid center, pressure will likely be taken off the rest of the group. If healthy, guard Brian Winters will likely perform better and it’s also important to note that tackles Brandon Shell and Kelvin Beachum seemed to improve as the season dragged on. Obviously, questions still surround the offensive line, but it may not be as big of a weakness as some may think.
Ultimately, there’s a lot to be happy about when looking at the Jets’ roster moving forward, but like any team, there are also areas to improve upon, with some raising more concern than others. It’s important to remember that the Jets are still in a rebuilding stage, but perhaps the team’s time is finally coming.