The NY Jets have a few position groups on the roster that are stronger than others.
The NY Jets have seemingly improved their roster over the past few years, but that doesn’t mean that it’s without its flaws. From offensive woes to defensive inconsistencies, the Jets’ roster still could use some work.
At the same time, the Jets have done an excellent job of establishing a few true strengths of the roster. Every team has certain position groups at which they are stronger than others. On the contrary, even the best of teams still have weaknesses.
For the sake of this article, we’re going to be talking about the former.
General manager Joe Douglas has managed to build depth on the Jets’ roster even if the team isn’t at the point he’d like them to be just yet. They may not have too many star players, but they have quality backups.
And oftentimes, the latter proves to be more important in an NFL world ravaged by injuries.
That depth, when paired with quality starters, is generally what allows a position group to truly be considered a “strength.” But which of those positions fall under that category for the Jets?
We take a look at the three strongest position groups on the Jets’ roster.
Next: 3. Defensive Line
3. The NY Jets have a strong defensive line
The defensive line has long been a strength of the Jets. For over a decade now, the Jets have boasted one of the more impressive defensive lines in the NFL in no small part because of the capital they’ve spent on that position.
And that was especially evident this past season.
Preseason write-offs like Folorunso Fatukasi and Nathan Shepherd quickly became key cogs in what was one of the best defensive line units in the NFL. Meanwhile, first-round pick Quinnen Williams was oftentimes overshadowed by his unheralded counterparts.
Williams wasn’t terrible in his rookie season, but he was underwhelming when compared to his teammates. If anything, that’s a testament to the excellent depth the Jets have at the position.
Throw in an incredibly impressive Steve McLendon coming off the best year of his career at age 33 and undrafted rookie Kyle Phillips who made a name for himself in his rookie season and you have arguably the most complete defensive line in the league.
Even veteran Henry Anderson impressed in 2018 before a shoulder injury limited his production in 2019.
Do the Jets have the most notable players on their defensive line? Absolutely not. But there’s a reason the team had the No. 2 ranked run defense in the NFL even with subpar linebacker play.
The Jets’ defensive line is as deep as they come and expect the unit to continue being a focal point of the defense for years to come.
Next: 2. Safety
2. The NY Jets have a strong group of safeties
Adams is the bombastic, exciting superstar who continues to defy expectations for a “safety.” From his other-worldly pass-rushing ability to his stout run defense to his phenomenal pass coverage, Adams is the complete package.
You could make a strong argument that he’s the best safety in the NFL and few would place him outside of the top three. Adams needs no introduction.
Maye, on the other hand, often gets overshadowed by the flashier Adams. But make no mistake about it, he’s one of the better cover safeties in the league.
While Adams is often seen making plays around the line of scrimmage, Maye is typically 20 yards back serving as the last line of defense. He’s a true center-field free safety, and he plays his role very well.
The only thing preventing the Jets safeties from being No. 1 on the list is the lack of established depth at the position. The team drafted Cal safety Ashtyn Davis in the third round and the hope is that he could not only serve as key depth in 2020, but be a future starter at free safety.
But aside from Davis, the position is pretty weak. The likes of Matthias Farley and Bennett Jackson do little to inspire confidence and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the Jets carry just three safeties on their roster in 2020.
In terms of starters, there’s probably no position the Jets are stronger at. But encompassing depth as well, the safety position falls just short of the top spot.
Next: 1. Linebacker
1. The NY Jets have a strong group of linebackers
It’s a testament to the incredible depth the Jets have at linebacker that they were able to survive the insane amount of injuries the team suffered at the position last season.
It started with Avery Williamson tearing his ACL in the preseason and continued with prized free-agent addition C.J. Mosley sustaining a groin injury in Week 1 that would essentially render his first season in green and white null and void.
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If those injuries weren’t enough, backups such as rookie Blake Cashman, Neville Hewitt, and Albert McClellan would all miss time as well with injuries. At one point, edge rusher Brandon Copeland was playing an off-ball linebacker role simply out of necessity.
Perhaps this is a credit to the players who stepped in and perhaps it’s a credit to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams for scheming around their weaknesses, but the Jets’ linebacker corps held their own last year even despite the injuries.
Former practice squad player James Burgess would go on to lead the team in tackles and the Jets would reward him with an extension in the offseason. Meanwhile, Hewitt would prove his worth and return in the offseason as well.
To complicate matters, the Jets also signed former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Onwuasor in the offseason. Throw in the likes of Mosley, Williamson, and Cashman returning from injury and it’s hard to see how everyone here makes the roster.
In Mosley and Williamson, the Jets likely have one of the best linebacker duos in the NFL — if healthy. And behind them are four players all with some degree of starting experience.
An excellent starting duo and quality depth creates a true position of strength. And it’s why the linebacker position takes the No. 1 spot on this list.