New York Jets: Power ranking the biggest offseason needs
By Joseph Bonomo
The New York Jets finally have a quarterback heading into 2019, but they still have a lot of work to do if they want to contend. Here is a power ranking of the team’s top four needs entering the offseason.
The New York Jets are heading into the 2019 offseason with a laundry list of holes to fill. With so many needs, it will be important for the Jets to prioritize their time this summer by filling the most pressing needs. Both sides of the ball will need help if the Jets are to make any meaningful strides in 2019.
There is a lot of optimism on this team after a strong finish to the season by rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. He finished the last quarter of the year as Pro Football Focus’ highest-rated passer.
Granted those games were not that meaningful, but it still gives the Jets some momentum heading into next year. It will be wise to begin their offseason by surrounding Darnold with as much help as possible so he can progress in his sophomore season.
The defense will need some big changes heading into their first year under defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The first point to consider will be the switch to a 4-3 defensive scheme. The Jets current roster has some outdated pieces leftover from the 3-4, so we should expect a lot of new faces in the front seven at the start of 2019. The secondary could also use some work.
Mike Maccagnan will have many decisions to make in the coming months. The ripple effects will decide whether or not he has a job in 2020. You better believe he already has his plan in place, so I will do my best to replicate his hypothetical power rankings for the Jets 2019 offseason needs.
After spending huge money on Trumaine Johnson last year, the Jets expected their secondary to improve. However, there was not much on paper to suggest the Jets were much better this year against the pass as they ranked in the bottom quarter of the league in passing yardage.
Much of this could be attributed to a lack of pass rush, but the Jets still need to address this position. They have some players who could walk and it would be wise to move on from them.
The top two players up for free agency are Buster Skrine and Morris Claiborne. Both have been up and down in their time with the Jets. Both have made mistakes in crucial moments. Skrine is more valuable simply because he can play the slot in addition to the outside, but that may not be enough to keep him a Jet.
Most likely to go will be Claiborne, who has not been consistent in his two years with the Jets. He was also one of the most penalized corners in the league with six in 2018. It would be best for the Jets to start fresh opposite Johnson in 2019.
This need should be addressed early on in the draft, as the free agent market for corners is thin, and the Jets have been burned in the past with free agent options.
Next: 3. Edge Rusher
3. Edge Rusher
Considering the upcoming change to a 4-3, this position could easily be ranked higher on our list. However, the presence of Leonard Williams keeps this as a modest need as his interior pressure at least provides something. At the same time, it will be interesting to see if the Jets move him before the draft.
Frequently double-teamed throughout the year, Williams will likely benefit from the switch to the 4-3. Widely considered one of the best players coming out in 2015, Williams has yet to have a break-out year apart from his Pro Bowl 2016 campaign. A change of scheme and some new talent around him should help.
Unlikely to get Demarcus Lawrence away from Dallas, the Jets may need to look into some other options in free agency. Jadeveon Clowney would instantly upgrade their pass-rush as he would help draw attention away from Williams.
Another option would be Frank Clark from Seattle. He is not as sexy of a pick, but he will be more affordable. Clark would be getting some serious attention if he wasn’t coming into free agency the same year as Clowney and Lawrence. If they miss on an edge rusher in free agency, the Jets should look to take a pass rusher with one of their early picks.
Next: 2. Running Back
2. Running Back
Some people feel the Jets lack receivers for Darnold, although I do not necessarily agree with that notion. Towards the end of the season, Robby Anderson was establishing himself as a legit top option. A full offseason of work should only help that chemistry in year two.
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Quincy Enunwa will also have a full training camp after being injured in the second half of the season. Chris Herndon came on this year and solidified his claim to being the top receiving tight end on the roster.
What the Jets are truly lacking is a game changing running back. Someone who forces the opposing defenses to bring extra guys in the box, opening up play action for the Jets young gunslinger. There is a guy out there now who fits the bill, Le’Veon Bell.
It is clear that Bell is not always a team-first guy, judging by his continued holdout throughout 2018. However, his talent is unquestioned. Some may point to the success of James Conner and say that Bell is overrated, although I would beg to differ.
Bell is in his prime, at only 26-years-old. He did not play at all in 2018, so he will be fresh heading into camp this summer. The Jets need to strongly consider making him a sizable offer for the next four or so years. Pay the man and put him to work, he will get the job done.
Next: 1. Offensive Line
1. Offensive Line
The only way the Jets can expect Darnold to make any real strides in 2019 is by upgrading their patchwork offensive line. A collection of ‘has-beens’ and ‘never will-be’s,’ the Jets offensive line needs a serious face lift.
The Jets need a draft similar to their 2006 draft, where the Eric Mangini-led Jets selected their two offensive line cornerstones of the next decade. Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson may not be up for grabs this year, but the Jets should be on the hunt for a similar pairing early on in the draft.
One guy to consider with their top pick is Jonah Williams out of Alabama. He can do it all from the left tackle spot, the most important position on the offensive line for a right-handed franchise quarterback. It is not a sexy pick, but it is as close to a sure thing as you can get. If the Jets can secure him with their top pick, they can be a little more aggressive in the later rounds trying to patch up some holes.
Invest in Darnold, and good things will come. He is the franchise, and if the Jets can surround him with talent this offseason, expect the Jets to make some noise in 2019.