NY Jets: 3 issues that could tank the team’s 2020 season
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets seem improved on paper, but these three concerns could tank their upcoming season.
The NY Jets made plenty of moves in the offseason that are sure to increase optimism not only about the upcoming season but regarding their future as well.
General manager Joe Douglas seemingly improved many of the team’s weakest positions and set the Jets up for future success by building depth and providing an apparent plan for the roster.
But just because something looks good on paper, doesn’t mean that it will perform well in practice.
The Jets saw this last season as, despite plenty of offseason optimism, their 2019 season went down the drain very quickly. Sure one could argue that this was primarily due to injuries, but the Jets had a large number of holes regardless.
And for the sake of this article, we will be ignoring external factors such as injuries, illness, etc. Instead, we’re going to discuss a few concerns that could put an end to the Jets’ hopes of returning to the postseason in 2020.
Regardless of how you feel about the offseason, it’s clear that there are still holes on the roster. And even with the positions that many feel are improved, there are always plenty of things that unexpectedly go wrong.
So what would it take for the Jets’ season to be essentially ended in one fell swoop? We take a look at three things that could tank the Jets’ 2020 season.
Next: 3. The defense takes a step back
3. The NY Jets’ defense takes a step back
The Jets’ defense exceeded all expectations in 2019, and they did so in spite of a host of injuries to their starting lineup. Both Week 1 starting cornerbacks were injured. Their entire linebacker corps suffered through injuries as well.
Yet despite this, the Jets finished with a top-10 defense in terms of yards allowed. And while you could credit the likes of Blessuan Austin and Folorunso Fatukasi who came out of nowhere, the success of the unit comes down to one man.
The Jets’ defensive coordinator was a magician in 2019 getting the most out of all his players and maximizing a unit that had no right being as good as it was. But while the defense was outstanding in 2019, it’s fair to wonder if they weren’t the recipients of a little luck.
What if the defense regresses back to the mean in 2020? Williams was phenomenal last season, but it’s not as if he’s commanded a top-10 defense every year of his career.
In 2018 with the Cleveland Browns, only two teams allowed more yards than Williams’ defense. And in 2016 with the Los Angeles Rams, Williams’ defense was bottom-seven in points allowed.
Were those defenses less talented? Perhaps, but it’s important to remember how depleted the Jets defense was last season after the injuries hit.
Expectations are still high for Williams and the defense going into 2020, but if the unit regresses in any significant way, the Jets will be in big trouble.
Next: 2. The supporting cast disappoints again
2. The NY Jets’ supporting cast on offense disappoints again
The Jets went into the offseason with one major goal in mind — make life easier for quarterback Sam Darnold.
It’s hard to imagine a young starting quarterback who’s had it worse through his first two seasons in the NFL than Darnold. Saddled with a league-worst running game, a bottom-two offensive line, and bottom-five receiving corps, Darnold somehow managed to put up respectable numbers in 2019.
But it was very clear to Douglas and the Jets that something (multiple somethings) needed to be done in the offseason to help him out. And you can’t say that the Jets didn’t try.
The offensive line was completely remade while the receiving corps will look vastly different as well. The Jets spent their first two picks in the 2020 NFL Draft on players that should make Darnold’s life easier.
But change doesn’t always equate to improvement.
The offensive line will have very little time to develop chemistry in this wacky offseason and could struggle as a result. And the same could go for the likes of Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims who are hardly sure things in the first place.
The Jets’ offense is about as volatile as could be going into 2020. And if the unit falls short of expectations again, Darnold and the Jets will suffer once more.
Next: 1. Adam Gase doesn't improve
1. NY Jets’ head coach Adam Gase doesn’t improve
While Darnold and the offense will need a vastly improved offensive line and receiving corps to thrive in 2020, perhaps no man is as important to the future of the Jets’ offense than Adam Gase.
Gase struggled mightily in his first year as the Jets’ head coach commanding the No. 32 ranked offense in the NFL. That’s right, even the hapless Miami Dolphins with perhaps the worst offensive line in NFL history were better.
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Some will point to injuries (particularly at the quarterback position) for the cause of this, but the Jets still ranked 29th in total offense even with a healthy Darnold. It’s very clear that Gase was a large part of the problem in 2019.
And if he doesn’t improve in a big way in 2020, the Jets have no shot at success.
Fortunately, Gase showed minor signs of improvement down the stretch last season after Darnold sat down with him and discussed how he wanted the offense to change. Following that meeting, Darnold played the best football of his career.
Now with the improvements made in the offseason, Gase will have no excuse this season. We’re talking more pre-snap movement, more outside runs, and more creative play-calling in general.
Gase must maximize the likes of Darnold, Le’Veon Bell, and a host of other offensive talents that he misused in his first season with the Jets.
The Jets could make all the roster changes that they’d like, but if the man running the show can’t get the job done, then the Jets are destined to fail in 2020.