Midseason winners and losers of 2018
By Jake Spriggs
Before the New York Jets travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins in Week 9, we take a look back at the first half of the 2018 season. The Jets sit at 3-5 and the first half has been full of highs and lows already. Here is a look at the winners and losers of the first half of the season.
This week marks the official halfway point of the 2018 New York Jets season and for the third straight year, they are sitting at 3-5. This season has been full of highs and lows for the Jets as they are led by a rookie quarterback Sam Darnold and a young defense that has the potential to be great very soon.
Darnold has gone through the typical growing pains for a rookie quarterback, maybe a little more due to the injuries at wide receiver and running back. The defense is full of young and hungry players especially in the secondary with safety duo Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. Also, the Jets have two good linebackers in Darron Lee and free agent signing Avery Williamson who have been solid defending the air and ground this season.
The Jets special teams have been a pleasant surprise as kicker Jason Myers, punter Lac Edwards, and kick returner Andre Roberts are all having good seasons. Myers has been perfect kicking field goals while Edwards and Roberts have helped set the Jets up with good field position on offense and defense.
Before the Jets begin the second half of the season, we take a look at the most valuable and least valuable players in the season’s first half. Take a look at my picks for MVP and LVP below.
Offensive MVP: Wide Receiver Robby Anderson
Although he has been dealing with an ankle injury the past week and a half, Robby Anderson has been the most important player on the Jets offense. Anderson leads the team in receiving yards (314) and receiving touchdowns (3).
When the running game is working, Darnold is able to work in the play action pass with Anderson. When they play action is working, Anderson is able to stretch the field and create some explosive plays.
Darnold and Anderson were unable to connect at the beginning of the season, but Anderson broke out against the Denver Broncos with over 100 yards receiving and two touchdowns. When Anderson is healthy, he brings the Jets offense to the next level by stretching the field. Hopefully, the ankle injury isn’t too serious and Anderson can get back to stretching the field once again this Sunday against the Dolphins.
Next: Offensive LVP: The Jets Offensive Line
Offensive LVP: The Jets Offensive Line
The Jets offensive line has not made it easy for Darnold or the Jets running game through the first eight games of the season. Darnold is constantly being pressured and having to throw the ball away.
Running back Isaiah Crowell ran for 219 yards against the Broncos but has been M.I.A. for the last three weeks. Crowell’s last three rushing yard totals the last three weeks are 40, 29, and 25.
With no room for Crowell to run, that puts more pressure on Darnold’s shoulders and he needs all the help he can get as a rookie quarterback. Week 9 presents all the makings of a get right matchup for this group as the Dolphins have struggled to defend the run and pass the last few weeks.
The Dolphins are tied for 29th in run defense, allowing 143.1 yards a game. Time for this group to be aggressive and push the offense forward instead of backward.
Next: Defensive MVP: Safety Jamal Adams
Defensive MVP: Safety Jamal Adams
“The Prez” vowed to never miss another Pro Bowl and he has certainly done the work to make it to his first one through the first half of the season. Through the first eight weeks, Jamal Adams leads all safeties with 16 run stops and has improved his coverage skills.
Adams leads the team with 56 combined tackles and two forced fumbles, second on the team in tackles for loss (six), and second in pass defenses (six). Adams has had to become an even more vocal leader this season as the Jets secondary has been banged up throughout.
At one point, the Jets were down two safeties and two cornerbacks but with Maye and Buster Skrine back in action, the secondary is slowly becoming whole again. Expect Adams to continue making plays and being the leader of this Jets defense in the second half of the season.
Next: Defensive LVP: Cornerback Trumaine Johnson
Defensive LVP: Cornerback Trumaine Johnson
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Trumaine Johnson has been a $72.5 million disappointment through the first eight games this season. Johnson has been out since Week 5 with a quad injury and has just started practicing in a limited capacity this week.
When the Jets signed him during free agency in March, he was supposed to be a shutdown corner they were looking for. Unfortunately, the only thing he has shut down is himself with an injury for the last month.
Even when he was playing Week 1-4, he was average at best and wasn’t that “game changer” that he claimed himself to be. It is unclear when Johnson will return to game action but he has a lot of football to make up for when he does come back.
Johnson needs to have a $72.5 million comeback in the second half of the season or it will go down as one of the biggest free agent whiffs in the Mike Maccagnan era.
Next: Special Teams MVP: Kicker Jason Myers
Special Teams MVP: Kicker Jason Myers
For a unit that was considered to be one of the worst in the league this season, the Jets special teams unit has been a pleasant surprise. Kicker Jason Myers was brought in as a free agent just before the season began and has been nearly perfect kicking.
Myers has made 18 of 19 field goals with his season-long being 55 yards. Those 18 field goals are good enough for the league lead in field goals made. Myers best game of the season so far was against the Indianapolis Colts in Week 6 at MetLife Stadium.
Myers went a perfect 7 of 7 kicking field goals and was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week. With the Jets offense ranked last in Red Zone Scoring, Myers has been called on to at least put three points on the board.
The Jets offense should be able to improve their Red Zone Scoring slowly over the next half of the season and hopefully not putting all the pressure on Myers to put points on the board. There is only so much Myers can do.