The NY Jets are going to be affected by the absence of a preseason more than most teams.
The NY Jets are under two months away from officially kicking off their 2020 season — at least that’s the plan for now. As we’ve seen this offseason, plans are just tentative proposals that could be changed on a whim.
And given the state of the world right now, that’s likely for the best.
One significant change that will be implemented this year will be the lack of a preseason. Initially, the NFL’s plan was to cut the preseason down to two games (a strategy that should be employed every year regardless of a pandemic).
However, the NFLPA persisted and it seems as though the two sides have agreed that there will be no preseason in 2020. This was probably a wise decision, but it certainly could cause some ripple effects throughout the league.
Teams that will be affected the most will be ones that have young, inexperienced rosters, experienced a lot of offseason turnover, a large number of new faces on the offensive line, and a developing quarterback still finding his footing.
Or in simpler terms, the New York Jets.
Yes, the Jets are certainly due to be negatively affected by the lack of a preseason more than most teams. But which individual players on the roster will suffer the most?
That’s the question we’re out to answer today. Be warned — there will be some cheating.
Next: 3. UDFAs/roster bubble players
3. The NY Jets’ UDFAs/roster-bubble players
As I said, there will be cheating. In this case, there is no one undrafted free agent or roster-bubble player that will be affected more by the absence of a preseason.
And that’s because they will all feel the effects of their already-limited opportunities being cut short.
For many undrafted free agents, they might not even get the chance to shine in training camp. With NFL teams expected to cut rosters down to 80 prior to the start of camp, the Jets will need to release up to 10 players in the coming days.
That means that a good portion of the roster won’t even make it to training camp.
Even with the players that make it past the first round of cuts, the likelihood that they’ll be able to actually earn a roster spot is slim to none. The lack of a preseason means decreased opportunities for players who are desperately in need of some.
Combine that with the lack of OTA’s and minicamp and back-of-the-roster players are being given fewer opportunities than ever before. Players who were relying on this summer to solidify their roster status might be looking for work when all is set and done.
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It’s truly a shame and it’ll be very interesting to see how the entire process works itself out. One would have to think that teams that are better at talent-evaluation will serve to benefit from this development.
And given that general manager Joe Douglas has been praised for that aspect of the job, perhaps the Jets could benefit more than most teams.
But for guys trying to secure a roster spot, there’s no doubt that this is a major blow to their careers.
Next: 2. Sam Darnold
2. Sam Darnold, QB, NY Jets
Sam Darnold will be hurt by the lack of a preseason more for indirect reasons. While it is important for young quarterbacks to get in as many reps as possible, it’s not as if Darnold is a first-year player or someone learning a new system.
Instead, Darnold will primarily be affected because his teammates will be affected.
The Jets completely revamped their offensive line and wide receiver corps in the offseason. And as with any new group of players, the units will take some time to develop chemistry together.
The offensive line will take time to jell as a unit and form the chemistry that the Jets never really saw last season. And Darnold will take time to jell with his new receivers and establish a rapport with them.
Unfortunately, time is of the essence this offseason meaning that neither is likely to happen before the season starts.
As a result, the offensive line could struggle early on much in the way that they did last year. The unit already started behind the eight-ball last year given that it wasn’t until August that the starting five came together.
And due to a variety of injuries, they were never able to develop any semblance of chemistry. The same issues could arise this year on top of the difficulties faced with the team’s new receivers.
And the player that could suffer the most, as a result, is Darnold.
Next: 1. Mekhi Becton/Denzel Mims/2020 rookie class
1. Mekhi Becton/Denzel Mims/NY Jets’ 2020 rookie class
Yes, we’re cheating again with this entry. Just as every undrafted free agent on the roster will suffer from the lack of a preseason, the same is true for every member of the team’s 2020 NFL Draft class.
However, some will certainly be affected more than others.
While players like Braden Mann and Ashtyn Davis might not feel the effects as much, the team’s first two picks in this year’s draft could be harmed the most.
Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims are both seen as high-upside projects who need a good amount of development before they can truly reach their ceilings. And much of that development was expected to take place over the course of their rookie seasons.
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But in this wacky offseason, the preparation process has been thrown out the window. Instead, both Becton and Mims will be thrust into the fire in Week 1 despite never playing an organized game with their new teammates.
The results could be ugly.
Becton still has a long way to go as a pass-protector while Mims needs plenty of work as a route-runner. Both could have used the extra reps in the preseason to work on the technical aspects of their games.
But now, they’ll have to settle for a half-hearted preseason and learning on the job — not exactly a recipe for success.
The Jets’ entire rookie class will be negatively affected by the absence of preseason games, but none more so than Becton and Mims.