The NY Jets were recently declared ‘dark horses’ to win the AFC East in 2020.
No one really knows what to expect from the NY Jets in 2020. On one hand, the team still has a few glaring holes and the roster may be a year away from truly competing for a playoff spot.
But on the other hand, the AFC East is as wide open as it’s been in decades and the improvements made in the offseason are enough to provide optimism.
As such, predictions for the Jets are all over the place, but it does seem as though the consensus is that the Jets won’t be a playoff team in 2020. For that very reason, however, some have labeled the team as a potential dark horse going into the year.
And that’s exactly the label that Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton gave the team in a recent article where he declared the Jets a dark horse to win the AFC East.
Some might scoff at that notion, but there’s some degree of logic behind it.
The NY Jets could compete for the division if a few things go their way.
The Jets sported one of the best defenses in the NFL last season — and that was while playing with major holes at linebacker, edge rusher, and cornerback. On top of that, the unit was hampered with the No. 32 ranked offense in the NFL.
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Despite all of this, they still finished ranked in the top-10 in defensive DVOA by Football Outsiders.
Gang Green will return the likes of C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson who missed essentially all of last season with injuries while adding veteran cornerback Pierre Desir to hopefully bolster what looks to be a deeper cornerback group than the team has had in years.
Few have any concerns about the defense, the issue comes with the offense.
Using the same DVOA metric, only the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense finished ranked below them. The hope is that the adjustments made in the offseason will be enough to improve what was one of the worst offenses in the NFL last year.
But that’s far from a guarantee.
The changes made to the offensive line all have reasons why they could work, but that remains a major question mark. On paper, it looks improved. But it also looked improved on paper going into last season.
The jury is still very much out on the offensive line.
Meanwhile, the Jets still have a glaring hole at wide receiver and will need a perfect storm of things to go right to boast an even average receiver corps.
Ultimately, the success of the team will come down to the performance of third-year quarterback Sam Darnold and whether or not his head coach can maximize his talent or not. The potential is apparent, but it’s unclear whether Adam Gase can be the coach that helps Darnold reach his ceiling.
The Jets are indeed dark horses because few expect them to be competitive this season. But it’s not as if this is a hapless roster. There is potential, there is promise, and there is hope.
They’ll just need a few things to go their way.
And if that happens, the Jets might just find a way to steal the AFC East crown away from their rivals.