As the New York Jets prepare for another big offseason to bolster their team, here are the top five building blocks for a brighter future.
For the New York Jets, it has been a brutal year in terms of wins and losses. The first game of the season could not have been any better, but things fell apart quickly. The offense has appeared predictable and lacking any real playmakers to take the pressure off of Sam Darnold and the offensive line. The defense has played admirably but has fallen apart late in games due to being on the field all game.
Much of this can be attributed to coaching, but also the sheer lack of talent. It is going to be a make or break offseason for general manager Mike Maccagnan. He has missed on many of his picks outside of the first round. This has attributed to the Jets lack of offensive weapons and a solid pass rusher. With a plethora of money to spend and a potential top-five pick in the first round, he has the tools to get this team trending in the right direction.
Despite all of this, the Jets have some great pieces on their current roster. These are the types of players that you can build a team around. Here are the Jets top five building blocks for the future.
5. Avery Williamson, LB
In his first year as a Jet, Avery Williamson has established himself as arguably their most consistent linebacker. He leads the team in tackles, and is near the top of nearly every other defensive stat on the team. The young middle linebacker has shown great closing speed and explosive tackling ability.
The biggest flaw with Williamson has been his coverage skills. He has shown improvement in this area, but there is still room to grow. Specifically, he is especially liable when he has to cover backs in space.
Outside of his coverage skills, Williamson has been as good as it gets for a middle linebacker. He can get after the quarterback, and shut down the run from sideline to sideline. Williamson has the strength to make those big goal-line tackles. He should be a force in the Jets front seven for years to come.
Next: 4. Christopher Herndon, TE
4. Christopher Herndon, TE
It is hard to remember a time when the Jets had a legitimate TE who could strike fear in the heart of a defense. Most recently Dustin Keller looked like he might be that guy, but he spent plenty of time out due to injuries. Fortunately for the Jets, Christopher Herndon is showing flashes that he could be the answer at TE.
After being drafted in the 4th Round of the 2018 NFL Draft, he got off to a slow start. Herndon turned things around in Week 6, notching a touchdown in his next three games. He has started to get a good target share and has stood out as the Jets number one option at the TE position.
Most recently in Week 12 against New England, the young pass-catcher trailed only Jermaine Kearse in targets, but still managed to register the most receptions on the team. He was able to do this even with the presence of their other top wideouts Quincy Enunwa, and Robby Anderson.
Herndon has become a featured part of the Jets offense. It will be exciting to see how much more involved in the game-plan he will be during the final 5 games. It would be wise to keep feeding him the ball to build his confidence heading into next season. If Christopher Herndon uses this offseason to work on his run-blocking skills and continue to develop chemistry with Darnold, the sky is the limit for the Jets rookie TE.
Next: 3. Leonard Williams, DE
3. Leonard Williams, DE
Leonard Williams has been great since his first year as a pro. In recent years, there have been critics who have called him out for his lack of pressure on the QB. He has stepped his game up this year, with three sacks and 13 QB hits. Williams is also leading the team with eight tackles for loss, tied with Jamal Adams.
“Big Cat” has begun to establish himself as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the league. Even in the face of frequent double teams, he manages to make plays with an explosive first step, and impressive strength. Despite this increased attention, the rest of the Jets defensive line has not been able to take advantage.
In order to not waste Leonard’s prime, the Jets need to find a legit pass rusher to put alongside him in the next few years. This defense is beginning to take shape, however, they need that final piece to really take it to the next level. Easier said than done, and the Jets have missed on their last few attempts at drafting pass rushers. Who can forget the epic failures of Vernon Gholston and Quinton Coples? However, if the Jets can strike gold and find that guy, he and Williams could bring the Jets back to their glory days of the New York Sack Exchange, and more recently, the Sons of Anarchy.
Next: 2. Sam Darnold, QB
2. Sam Darnold, QB
It has been an up and down rookie year for Darnold, with things getting really ugly in his last start. In his most recent game in Miami, Darnold was ineffective, to say the least. He completed 53 percent of his passes and had 0 touchdowns to four interceptions. One of those was a backbreaking pick-six to seal the game. Sam was also hurt in that game, and has not played since.
If and when he returns, it will be crucial for him to get some momentum heading into next year. The young gunslinger has shown the ability to make all the throws, but has looked lost in the Jets lackluster offense.
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As a biased fan, I put a good amount of the blame on the coaching staff. It goes without saying that Darnold needs to make better decisions, but the Jets are one of the most obvious teams when it comes to their offensive playcalling. It usually goes something like this:
First Down: Run up the middle for 1 yard.
Second and 9: Run up the middle for 1 yard.
3rd and 8: False start, repeat 3rd down.
3rd and 13: Screen pass to Enunwa, goes for 5 yards in a heroic effort by the wideout.
You cannot expect a young quarterback to make good decisions when the defense knows what play he is about to run. The Jets are not creative, and do not put their limited weapons in ideal situations. It is infuriating to watch other teams, as they rip off 10 yards at a time with ease. If the Jets get a first down, I am posting on Twitter to celebrate.
The moral here is the Jets need a new coaching staff. The current regime is on the fast track to ruin their prized rookie quarterback. Darnold has the ability to be our savior, but they need to give him the tools to succeed.
Next: 1. Jamal Adams, S
1. Jamal Adams, S
Through the ups and downs of this year, there has been one constant; Jamal Adams making plays. It is not a longshot to say that he is the Jets best player at all three levels of the defense.
He is their most consistent pass rusher off the edge, he has shut down top options in the passing game, and he never misses an open-field tackle. ‘The Pres’ is a ‘baller’, and their clear vocal leader.
Getting into the stats, he is second on the team in tackles, second in sacks, second in passes defended, first in forced fumbles, and first in tackles for loss. Adams is all over the field, all the time, and has a passion for winning that is contagious. Players like him are few and far between.
My only fear is that he might walk after his rookie deal expires if things do not get better. Winners want to play with other winners, and the Jets need a lot of help. Greener pastures surely await him if he gets to free agency. Adams is set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2022, so that gives the Jets three years to right the ship. I say they only have one more year like this before he starts hinting at a trade. Adams is a once in a lifetime talent, don’t screw this up Maccagnan.