The 2018 regular season is finally upon the football world as the New York Jets begin another campaign filled with hope. Here are the top 25 bold predictions for the Jets this upcoming season.
2018 will surely go down in the history books when it comes to the New York Jets. Besides starting the youngest quarterback ever in Sam Darnold, it’s the 50th year anniversary of the Super Bowl III championship team.
This upcoming season presents the Jets with a golden opportunity to usher in a new era thanks to finally addressing the most important position on the team. Make no mistake about it, this season will be all about Darnold and his progression done the right way.
The Jets made the right call starting Darnold and letting him learn the ropes now to be a force to reckon with in the future. Besides Darnold likely to do very well in 2018, what about the other players and situations that await Gang Green?
Here are the top 25 bold predictions for the Jets heading into the regular season.
25. Isaiah Crowell will deliver consistent results
When the Jets acquired running back Isaiah Crowell via free agency, it was a smart signing considering everything he brings to the table. At just 25-years-old and four years in the league, Crowell is just getting started.
In his career with the Cleveland Browns, Crowell totaled 3,118 rushing yards, 737 rushes, and 21 touchdowns. If the Jets are able to get such production early on by Crowell, it will go a long way towards a productive season.
Crowell will easily deliver consistent results since he’s a power running back capable of handling a huge workload. Considering the Jets are starting a rookie quarterback in Darnold, it easily means they’ll likely commit to the ground game on a weekly basis.
Expect to see Crowell deliver solid results week in, week out for the Jets. He could very well end up being a centerpiece on offense thanks to his ability to do damage on the ground or air as a receiving option.
Next: 24. The penalties will continue
24. The penalties will continue
Oh yes ladies and gentlemen, those yellow flags will be raining in on the Jets a whole lot in 2018. It’s a shame, really. This all stems from a lack of discipline and executing plays flawlessly.
If preseason action was any indication, it’s that the Jets have a long way to go to ensure they stop causing reckless penalties. From extending plays due to holding or giving up free yards due to being offsides, the Jets will easily be one of if not the most penalized teams in 2018.
Hopefully, they get their act together after the first few weeks of the season but Jets fans would be wise to prepare for the fact that they’ll likely give up a plethora of yards via penalties. It could turn into a chaotic situation if the Jets lose close football games because of it.
This all lands on the shoulders of head coach Todd Bowles and the leadership regime. If things get out of hand on top of losing a lot of football games, things could get rather hectic in the locker roomall because of penalties.
Next: 23. Trumaine Johnson will be quite the pickup
23. Trumaine Johnson will be quite the pickup
When the Jets acquired cornerback Trumaine Johnson via free agency, it sent a clear message to the rest of the league in that they are serious about building a contender. Johnson is easily one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL and brings instant respect to a defensive secondary that is already stacked with talent.
Expect to see Johnson live up to expectations and prove that he was quite the pickup for the Jets. Johnson might end up being one of the best free agents the Jets have acquired in years since he’s that good of a defensive back.
Johnson should be able to thrive in “New Jack City” and be one incredible cornerback that will make plays early and often all season long. Since the league is mostly a passing one, Johnson’s contributions could keep the Jets in a lot of close football games.
With 18 interceptions so far in his solid career, Johnson should be able to teach his fellow partners in crime some great techniques to improve turnovers as a unit. Johnson will be an incredible teacher and mentor to have in the locker room for all the young defensive backs around him.
Next: 22. Eric Tomlinson will surprise many
22. Eric Tomlinson will surprise many
The Jets made a huge decision this offseason by letting tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins walk via free agency and go with their in-house options. During training camp and preseason action, tight end Eric Tomlinson showed he was more than capable of replacing Seferian-Jenkins.
Not only did Tomlinson show his ability to make plays when the football is in his hands, but he excels as a blocker which should help out a lot on offense. Best of all, Tomlinson is relatively unknown and will surprise many in 2018.
Expect to see a lot of Darnold to Tomlinson since every rookie quarterback’s favorite target tends to be their tight end. At 6-6 and 263lbs, Tomlinson can continue to develop during the regular season as he’s young and has a lot to prove on offense.
Tomlinson doubles up as a hybrid player on offense since he also has experience as a wide receiver. Needless to say, he will rack up a lot of production and do his best to spell playmaker on a weekly basis.
Next: 21. Darron Lee will have a big season
21. Darron Lee will have a big season
Despite having a relatively quiet preseason, linebacker Darron Lee has been slowly but surely getting ready for a big jump in 2018. Lee will call out the plays on defense and make adjustments based on what he sees to put defenders in a position to make plays.
With more pressure to deliver big results entering his third year in the pros, Lee will deliver his finest season yet. Not only will Lee hone his craft as a linebacker but also enjoy a breakout year thanks to his speed and continued development.
Expect to see Lee thrive in 2018 and prove that the Jets made the right decision selecting him in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Bowles gave Lee a lot more responsibilities this year as he will rise to the occasion and deliver.
If Lee proves to be a bright spot on defense, it could potentially open things up for everyone else around him, including the overall pass rush. Lee will set the tone and start creating an identity on defense.
Next: 20. Terrelle Pryor won't pan out as envisioned
20. Terrelle Pryor won’t pan out as envisioned
All preseason long, wide receiver Terrelle Pryor didn’t do much of anything. As a matter of fact, he was on the roster bubble if it wasn’t for a touchdown play in the preseason finale that likely earned him a final roster spot.
Dealing with an ankle injury isn’t easy as Pryor will likely not live up to expectations of the offseason that he would be a difference maker on offense. Pryor does have the skillset to be a solid wide receiver but a nagging ankle/foot injury will limit his ability to make big plays where it matters most.
Expect to see Pryor be a non-factor on offense and eventually sidelined due to injury. Pryor hasn’t had a full season healthy since his blockbuster season in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns. The league is always about what you are doing now, not what you did years ago in the past.
If things don’t work out with Pryor, the Jets will likely chalk it up to taking a shot and things not working out as envisioned. It happens all the time and will happen with Pryor.
Next: 19. Jamal Adams leads defense in interceptions
19. Jamal Adams leads defense in interceptions
Last season, safety Jamal Adams had a solid year but if you could believe it, failed to get a single interception. Adams ended 2017 with 63 tackles, two sacks, and started every game for the Jets.
Adams came close numerous times when it came to hauling in an interception but the football either slipped through his fingers or he mistimed it. This time around, Adams won’t end the season with a goose egg in interceptions.
Expect to see Adams not only get a lot of interceptions, but he’ll lead the Jets defense in that category. He’s a vocal, fiery, and competitive player that is already a leader on defense and will back it up by overachieving.
Adams has everything needed to enjoy a breakout year that sends him right to the first Pro Bowl of his career. Expectations are high for Adams as he prepares for his sophomore season.
Next: 18. Andre Roberts will score a special teams touchdown
18. Andre Roberts will score a special teams touchdown
It’s been years since the Jets scored a touchdown via special teams. All preseason long, special teams have been an utter and complete disaster.
Believe it or not, it won’t take long for special teams coordinator Brant Boyer to right the ship with wide receiver Andre Roberts being a centerpiece in the group. Roberts has seven years experience in the league and besides being a decent wide receiver, does well on special teams.
Roberts will not only put the Jets in a better position to score after handling kickoff/punt return duties but will surprise many by scoring a touchdown on special teams. It will be a surreal sight for Jets fans to see when it actually happens.
With experience under his belt and a good opportunity with the Jets to double up his contributions on both offense and special teams, Roberts could be a nice hybrid playmaker if everything falls into place. Hopefully, this special teams touchdown happens in MetLife Stadium during a home game so the crowd can witness glory at its finest.
Next: 17. Trent Cannon will be an X-factor
17. Trent Cannon will be an X-factor
If you’ve watched Jets preseason games, you undoubtedly noticed just how fast running back Trent Cannon can be once the football is in his hands. He has some surreal speed but is a raw prospect that is learning the ropes as it’s his rookie season.
Make no mistake about it, Cannon is so fast that once he puts everything together to become a smarter and more aware running back, he’s going to be an X-factor on offense for the Jets. He could add an incredible dimension on offense as a speedy/change of pace running back or do big things as an eligible receiver out of the backfield.
With Crowell and Bilal Powell getting the majority of reps at running back, expect to see Cannon spell relief when his number is called and surprise opposing defenses with his speed. Cannon still has a lot to learn but the potential is there for a player that has star written all over him.
It won’t happen early on in the season but give it a month or so for Cannon to take things to the next level. Cannon will be fun to watch evolve as a playmaker as the weeks go by.
Next: 16. Jermaine Kearse will be clutch in the red zone
16. Jermaine Kearse will be clutch in the red zone
If it’s one thing that is known about wide receiver Jermaine Kearse, it’s that he comes up in clutch situations when it matters most. In his first year with the Jets in 2017, Kearse totaled his best season yet.
Last season, Kearse totaled 810 receiving yards, 65 receptions, and five touchdowns. Expect to see Kearse step up his game and make his presence felt as the top red zone threat on offense.
Kearse will likely see his role increase in 1st and goal situations since both Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa will get the majority of focus by opposing defenses. Kearse will thrive in this role and have the most touchdowns in the wide receiver positional group.
When general manager Mike Maccagnan made the trade to acquire Kearse by the Seattle Seahawks, it was a big move that so far, has paid off. Kearse has the potential to enjoy some of the best years of his career in a Jets uniform.
Next: 15. Offensive line will continue to be inconsistent
15. Offensive line will continue to be inconsistent
Just like it was last year, the Jets offensive line will continue to be inconsistent. Besides the addition of new center Spencer Long via free agency, the same cast of subpar players will be back in 2018.
Unfortunately, that isn’t a good thing by any stretch of the imagination. The Jets offensive line has players that are defined by injuries, blown plays, and penalties. Expect to see things remain the same as it will be a huge issue throughout the season.
Things will likely get so bad with the Jets offensive line, it will be a major area of opportunity next offseason. So much so, Maccagnan will likely have to address the offensive line in both free agency and the 2019 NFL Draft.
Football games are won and lost in the battle of the trenches. Without a good offensive line, the Jets won’t win many football games in 2018.
Next: 14. Leonard Williams will continue to disappoint
14. Leonard Williams will continue to disappoint
Last season, defensive end Leonard Williams was ineffective, to say the least. Dealing with a lot of double teams and a lingering wrist injury, Williams had a lackluster season in 2017.
Williams totaled just 22 tackles and two sacks in his worst season in the pros. Since the Jets didn’t bolster their overall pass rush, expect to see Williams continue to disappoint. While he does have the talent to be an incredible defensive end, there is only so much he can do.
Without a good supporting cast around him on the Jets defensive line, he will continue to get double teamed and phased out of plays. It’s unfortunate but Williams will likely get the brunt of the blame when in essence, Maccagnan didn’t do his part to give him a better defensive end alongside him.
Despite rookie defensive end Nathan Shepherd likely making a name for himself in 2018, he will also have growing pains as he transitions to the pros. Williams thrives when he isn’t the spotlight on the defensive line as he’s not near that level just yet in his career to dominate on his own.
Next: 13. Bilal Powell will be traded
13. Bilal Powell will be traded
After going on eight years with the Jets, it’ll be time for the franchise to make the tough decision to trade running back Bilal Powell to address a major area of need. Powell will be traded to a team for a player and/or draft pick that will help the Jets in the future.
Whether Maccagnan trades Powell before the deadline for a pass rusher or offensive lineman, it will need to be done. Powell is entering the final year of his contract in 2018 and will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
It’s best to trade Powell if his value is high this season to get something back in return that will undoubtedly help the Jets for the future. Considering that running back Elijah McGuire will be back at some point later this season due to his broken foot injury, makes Powell expendable.
Expect to see Powell traded to get something good back in return before he leaves via free agency anyway. It’s all about what is best for the future success of the team.
Next: 12. Jets will let Darnold experience growing pains
12. Jets will let Darnold experience growing pains
The Jets made the bold decision to start Darnold and will stand by it regardless of what happens throughout the season. They will let him experience all the growing pains that come with being a rookie starting quarterback.
No, the Jets won’t have any controversies if Darnold ends up being a turnover-prone quarterback. It’s all about his progression in football games that count now in order to prepare for what should be a bright future under center.
Don’t expect the Jets to make a quarterback switch to Josh McCown just because Darnold isn’t performing as expected. Unless he gets injured, it’ll be Darnold starting for the Jets all season long, regardless what losing streaks they’re in or any blowouts in front of the home crowd.
Darnold, just like any rookie quarterback, will have several ups and probably a lot more downs in his first season. All that matters is he grows with every passing week to continue his development.
Next: 11. Lack of overall pass rush will cost games
11. Lack of overall pass rush will cost games
Due to a lack of an overall pass rush, it will easily cost the Jets a few winnable football games. The truth of the matter is, if a defensive line can’t pressure quarterbacks, they will get shredded apart like there is no tomorrow.
The Jets will do just enough to get close to leaving a football game victorious but will likely lose just when it matters most because they simply can’t get to the quarterback. Without constant pressure on opposing quarterbacks, even subpar players can make big plays due to the extra time to work with.
Against quarterbacks like Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Tyrod Taylor, they will do some serious damage with just a few extra seconds. Expect to see the Jets defense give up a lot of big plays and not have any answers when it comes to their lack of an overall consistent pass rush.
Since the league is all about quarterbacks and dynamic wide receivers, the Jets defense will be on the outside looking in. If you can’t take down opposing quarterbacks or rush them into mistakes, it will be a big reason why a team will ultimately lose a football game.
Next: 10. Nathan Shepherd will be a household name
10. Nathan Shepherd will be a household name
At 6-4 and 315lbs, defensive end Nathan Shepherd is a true freak of nature. He’s big, fast, and looks like he will be a household name once his rookie season is in the books. Shepherd’s motor is crazy as he doesn’t take any plays off and brings a high level of intensity every time he steps foot on the gridiron.
While all eyes are on Williams on the Jets defensive line, expect to see Shepherd be dominant against the run and have more sacks as well. Shepherd has the potential to be a consistent defensive end but will need time to develop the right way.
With that means getting a lot of starting reps during the regular season to hone his craft for the future. Perhaps if Shepherd plays well enough, it could help take off some of the double teams that Williams will see throughout the season. All in all, Shepherd looks like he could be the real deal as early as this year.
Hopefully, Shepherd develops into a quality pass rusher since it’s such a major area of need for the Jets, they’ll likely use him in a variety of different ways with hopes of being an impact player. The Jets defense will need it when facing high caliber teams.
Next: 9. Robby Anderson will stay out of trouble
9. Robby Anderson will stay out of trouble
Not many football teams would give as many chances as the Jets have to Robby Anderson due to off-the-field incidents. Anderson, who was arrested twice in a span of less than a year, undoubtedly learned a big lesson in everything.
Since the Jets never gave up on him, he will stay out of trouble since it’s likely he won’t be given another chance if he messes up again. Since he has the potential to be a key part of the Jets offense for many years to come, expect to see him stay out of trouble.
There is a lot of money and pride involved with Anderson staying on the right path. Bowles and the rest of the Jets leadership likely had several serious talks about what is at stake for Anderson if he continues to mature as a football player from here on out.
Anderson has the potential to be one of the best wide receivers the Jets have had in years. Now it’s all about making sure he sticks to what he does best which means focusing strictly on football and leaving all the distractions out of it.
Next: 8. Super Bowl III 50th Anniversary will spark a big home win
8. Super Bowl III 50th Anniversary will spark a big home win
2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the only Super Bowl win in Jets history. The Jets will go all out this season with many events celebrating this epic milestone.
The Jets will have a huge celebration in their Week 6 home game against the Indianapolis Colts. They will have a special halftime ceremony in honor of Super Bowl III and a “White Out” theme where players will wear white jerseys and white pants with grey facemasks in honor of that 1968 championship team.
Expect to see the Jets put on an absolute clinic against the Colts just to have history repeat itself, even if it’s just a regular season game. It’ll be a huge win in front of the home crowd and even if the Jets do end up with a losing season, this game will stand out from the rest.
The Jets might not accomplish much this season but will make this home game, honoring Super Bowl III, one worth remembering. This game has “guaranteed” written all over it by Gang Green.
Next: 7. Jordan Leggett will end up being a bust
7. Jordan Leggett will end up being a bust
Unfortunately for tight end Jordan Leggett, he’s on the outside looking in. For most of the preseason, he missed playing time due to injury. After suffering a severe knee injury in his rookie year last season, things are much the same in his sophomore season.
Don’t let the fact that he made the final roster cut of the Jets rule out the fact that Leggett will end up being a bust once everything is set and done. The Jets are going into the regular season with four tight ends on the roster with Leggett, Eric Tomlinson, Neal Sterling, and Chris Herndon.
Your guess is as good as mine in which tight end will stand out the most from this group. The Jets are hoping Sterling or Herndon emerge as legitimate receiving threats since Tomlinson is mostly known for his above-average blocking skills.
This leaves Leggett with very little room for error and if he doesn’t make an impact on the gridiron or misses more playing time due to injury, he’s gone during the offseason. If Leggett is sidelined again or doesn’t do much of anything this season, he’ll go down as a bust. Odds are this will be what ultimately happens to him.
Next: 6. Quincy Enunwa won't heat up until late in the season
6. Quincy Enunwa won’t heat up until late in the season
Wide receiver Quincy Enunwa missed all of last season due to a severe neck injury that required surgery to correct. Since then, he’s been slowly getting back into resuming full football activities.
Don’t expect Enunwa to come out red hot at the beginning of the season. The Jets will ease him in slowly to ensure he’s good to go in withstanding the long season ahead.
Once Enunwa gets back into a rhythm, expect to see him go back to the player he was before his neck injury. Combined with Anderson and Kearse, Enunwa will do his part to have a new trifecta at wide receiver.
Enunwa should look like he hasn’t missed a beat but it will take a few weeks of him getting back into a groove for him to be that big playmaking receiver the Jets are expecting him to be.
Next: 5. Lack of pass rush will cause plenty of fan frustration
5. Lack of pass rush will cause plenty of fan frustration
Yes, the Jets have a major problem when it comes to their overall pass rush. This will easily lead to being one of the top causes of fan frustration in 2018 unlike anything ever seen over the past few years.
Things will likely go into disaster mode if the Jets defense can’t get to the quarterback, stop big yardage plays, or let opposing offenses continue to have their way with them. Can you imagine the uproar of fans if Brady is able to drop four touchdowns against the Jets defense in a single quarter?
What happens if this occurs during home games where fans will want to boo the Jets defense like there is no tomorrow? Jets fans are already upset as it is, but imagine when the pass rush is so bad, it’s truly unbearable to watch?
This will be the scenario as the Jets hit the second half of the season. There is only so much the Jets offense can do if the defense is on the field longer than they’re supposed to be.
Next: 4. Defensive secondary will be a top-10 unit
4. Defensive secondary will be a top-10 unit
The only bright spot of the upcoming season besides Darnold’s progress as a rookie future franchise quarterback will be the Jets defensive secondary. This unit has the potential to be great and will end up being a top-10 unit in 2018.
Unfortunately, the Jets defensive secondary can only go so far as the complete defense of the team still needs a lot of work to be a contender. Again, the term “lack of pass rush” will be one of the defining moments of the year for the Jets.
The Jets defensive secondary is filled with young raw talent ready to make a name for themselves. The unit already has called themselves “New Jack City” to send their message loud and clear to opposing offenses.
It’s a shame the Jets didn’t add a better pass rush specialist or two to turn the entire defense into a force to reckon with. It will serve as a blueprint for next year’s offseason to acquire better talent around their Jets secondary to make the entire unit elite.
Next: 3. Leadership regime won't be going anywhere
3. Leadership regime won’t be going anywhere
If the Jets win just a handful of games in 2018, the fate of Maccagnan and Bowles will be just fine. Owner Chris Johnson knows that this season is all about progress from a young roster trying to build a foundation for a better future.
With a lot of young and upcoming players like Darnold, Adams, Maye, McGuire, Shepherd, and many others, 2018 will serve as a good learning experience for all these young players. Johnson knows that patience is key and to let Maccagnan and Bowles work their magic to finally build a playoff-contending team in 2019 and 2020.
Whether the Jets win just three games or even eight, the leadership regime won’t be going anywhere at season’s end. Johnson isn’t going to go on a firing spree just to start everything over again with a roster, culture, and identity that Maccagnan and Bowles have established since day one.
Expect to see Maccagnan and Bowles to stick around for the next few years to see how this roster they’ve been building since 2015 shapes up after a lengthy rebuilding phase. The time will come where everything comes together to make some serious noise in the future.
Next: 2. Darnold will be incredible all year long
2. Darnold will be incredible all year long
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Besides the Jets defensive secondary, Darnold will be incredible and fun to watch all year long. The rookie is a natural born playmaker and made a name for himself in college leading up to this huge moment of his pro career.
Darnold brings instant credibility to the Jets at the most important position on the team. So much so, that he has the ability to make everyone around him better.
Even though a lot of losing will be in the Jets forecast this season, watching Darnold throw touchdown passes, break out of the pocket for big yards on the ground, and see his leadership in the huddle, will make up for another forgettable season.
Darnold is the future and the future is now. It’s a great time to be a Jets fan as 2018 will be the year the franchise finally has someone under center worth talking about for many years to come.
Next: 1. The Jets will win six games in 2018
1. The Jets will win six games in 2018
Due to a lack of pass rush, not many playmakers on offense, an abysmal special teams unit, an inconsistent offensive line, and being one of the most penalized teams in the league, the Jets won’t win many football games. As a matter of fact, the Jets will be slightly better than last season only because Darnold is their new starting quarterback.
Expect the Jets to win just six games in 2018 and once again, miss out on the NFL Playoffs. They lack the essentials on the roster to field a competitive team capable of beating some of the top tier teams in the league.
The Jets are towards the end of their rebuilding process as they are still another year or two away from it all coming together where they can make a run at the AFC East crown. By then, Brady and the evil empire known as the New England Patriots should be done and out of the picture to let another team rise to the top.
That team will be the Jets but for now and entering a brand new season, they don’t have what it takes on the roster to compete at an elite level. Until then, enjoy the season for what it is in that it’s all about Darnold and the experience he will earn as the new face of the franchise.