The Jets open camp this week with many questions and thankfully, a few excellent answers. So let’s start what with what we’ve learned so far about this 2019 team.
It’s almost August, meaning NFL training camps are ready to heat up. These Jets look excited and ready to explode.
There’s a fiery new coaching staff, a competent new front office, and a bold new attitude. Gang Green may not yet be a playoff team, but they will play a competitive 16 games. Talk about progress!
Jets fans know all about the team’s pedestrian offensive line, substandard cornerback unit, and razor-thin talent pool. Suffice it to say that new GM Joe Douglas and his veteran staff have considerable work to do moving forward.
The following pages examine what we’ve learned in the past few months, and what to expect in the weeks ahead. As Bart Scott famously proclaimed, “Can’t wait!”
Next: 5. Have Low Expectations For This Draft Class
5. Have Low Expectations For This Draft Class
Rookies reported to camp last week. But there’s been no post-draft buzz on any of these players. In fact, the only first-year talent to wow the new coaching staff was UDFA receiver/return-man, Greg Dortch. Hardly a ringing endorsement of Mike Maccagnan’s final Jets’ draft.
To be fair, top draft pick Quinnen Williams nicely rounded into form following a pre-camp minor ankle injury. Fourth-round TE/FB Trevon Wesco and fifth-round ILB Blake Cashman should excel this season on special teams.
But second-round edge-rusher Jachai Polite and third-round tackle Chuma Edoga are high-upside projects who need to grow up fast. And if seventh-round Rutgers CB Blessuan Austin ever heals off the PUP list, has the skill-set to one day dominate.
So don’t be shocked if any of these draftees get released or traded by the new regime.
Next: 4. The Adults are in Charge
4. The Adults are in Charge
Mike Maccagnan’s iffy personnel moves and passive-aggressive management style are mercifully in our rear-view mirror. His next career step is so questionable that he may get professionally out-gunned by fellow never-again-GM John Idzik, currently working a desk job in Jacksonville. In fact, once things shake out, it’ll be fascinating to see if Trader Mike was a lick better than the inept Idzik.
Joe Douglas’ new front office, led by proven football men (not pencil pushers) means that no-nonsense adults finally control the on-field product. The clumsy circumstances which led to the Eagles VP’s hiring as Jets GM means that he basically gets a “mulligan” for the 2019 season.
Douglas has been left with some nice roster pieces. But of this currently constructed 90-man training camp roster, at least 60 of them have bright XFL futures.
So expect considerable roster movement — additions and surprise cuts — prior to, and right after, August 31’s 4pm EST 53-man roster deadline. Possible veteran CB targets on their radar include Brandon Carr (Ravens), Ken Crawley (Saints), Josh Norman (Redskins) or yet resigning Morris Claiborne.
Yet another reason why everything points to 2020.
Next: 3. Coaching Matters
3. Coaching Matters
Todd Bowles deserves praise as a Jersey-bred Super Bowl-winning NFL safety, a top defensive coach, and as a leader of men. But he will go down in Jets coaching infamy with names like Richie Kotite, Bruce Coslet, and Eric Mangini. Bowles has friends in high places — unlike his former partner/nemesis Maccagnan — and already has a safe job; with his coaching mentor Bruce Arians in Tampa Bay.
At least Adam Gase isn’t another first-time head coach in way over his head (see every other Jets coach since Bill Parcells). He’s already proven smart enough to delegate authority to GM Douglas, DC Gregg Williams, and S/T coach Brant Boyer.
The debate over whether or not Gase is that anointed “quarterback whisperer” is pure noise. He and Darnold are clearly in sync, and in terms of personality, they make sense together. Even that short peek at minicamp felt exciting.
So far so good. For now.
Next: 2. The Song Remains the Same
2. The Song Remains the Same
There’s an old Italian adage: “When the fish rots, it stinks from the head down.” The aroma that’s emanated from Florham Park for years sure ain’t the chrysanthemum fields outside their One Jets Drive practice facility.
The Johnsons always had the excuse that they were new to the game of football. But after 20 years of ownership, you’d think the Johnson & Johnson heirs would’ve developed some sense of the business.
Weak NFL leaders with no ideas of their own hire others to select their GM and HC. Such lack of discipline also allows for a festering entrenched bureaucracy that leaks and lies to the press — a CYA culture that has hurt far more than help.
On WFAN, football guru Peter King offered insight into Maccagnan and his henchman Brian Heimerdinger’s strange dalliance with local kid Baylor coach Matt Rhule. King seemed genuinely disturbed by the fact that Chris Johnson participated and allowed for this fiasco, while Bowles was still under contract.
As long as the Johnsons remain in power, the song remains the same.
Next: 1. Sam is the Man
1. Sam is the Man
Second-year Sam Darnold is displaying his maturity as an NFL QB — both developmentally and psychologically. You gotta love everything you’ve heard so far this offseason.
You can bet that GM Douglas, a former college offensive lineman, understands the Jets deficit at O-line, and will spend the next year constructing a young unit able to protect their young QB phenom. To think that the previous administration spent $100 Million in free agency yet did not address the center position reads like a case of professional malpractice.
By the end of minicamp, 2017 Giants third-rounder, and 2018 Jets practice squadder Davis Webb was taking reps with the second team. So don’t be shocked to see Webb get named Darnold’s backup, while Trevor Simien moves on to play in Vince McMahon’s 2020 league, $1 Million richer, thanks to the previous regime’s largesse. Luke Falk looks like a perfect practice squad addition.
Darnold certainly has some great offensive weapons between Le’Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder and Robby Anderson. Are you struck by the hypocrisy of replacing Chris Herndon suspended for the first four games after a DUI, for Brian Griffith, a proven Texans TE cut after a drunken night of vandalism at May’s NFL Draft in Nashville.
Ready yourselves for an action-packed season, Jets fans!