The NY Jets did a lot to help out Sam Darnold and the offense this offseason, but was it enough?
To this point, the third-year quarterback has been subject to an abysmal offensive line, a subpar offensive coaching staff, and little to no respectable weapons in the passing game.
Few quarterbacks have had it as rough as he’s had it through their first two seasons, but Darnold is still here standing (somehow) and improving every step of the way.
But it was clear going into this offseason that he needed help. General manager Joe Douglas ought out to provide him with that help revamping the offensive line and adding a few new weapons in the passing game.
Ideally, this will be enough to give Darnold what he needs to succeed. But that’s far from a guarantee.
On paper, the Jets still have one of the weakest offenses in the NFL raising the question — did the Jets do enough to get Darnold help this offseason?
That was the question we decided to pose to all of our staff members here at The Jet Press. As you could imagine, there were certainly a few varied answers.
Let’s take a look at what each of us had to say about Darnold’s situation going into 2020.
Next: 1. Justin Fried
1. Justin Fried: Did the NY Jets do enough to help Sam Darnold?
The way this question is phrased makes it difficult to answer. On paper, it’s hard to argue that Darnold’s situation will be improved in any significant way going into this season.
Sure, the offensive line looks improved (it would be nearly impossible to be worse) and the return of someone like Chris Herndon should prove invaluable, but Darnold is still stuck in the same woeful offensive system that he was last year.
Let’s look at things realistically for a second.
Darnold still has a bottom-five receiving corps (that’s being generous), an offensive line that could inch up towards the middle of the pack, but is more likely to finish bottom-five than top-five, and an offensive coaching staff that I can’t imagine any other team in the league would trade for.
Sam Darnold is still in a bad situation going into 2020. But the way this question is posed indicates that it’s the current front office’s fault for that. And largely that isn’t true.
Joe Douglas played his cards right this offseason. He refused to overpay in free agency (sometimes to his detriment) and hauled in a draft class that has been near-universally praised.
The issues stem from the work of the previous regime that set the Jets up to fail. Douglas can only do so much. So if the question is did he individually do enough, I’d say yeah he probably did all that he could.
Perhaps I would have given Robby Anderson the two-year, $20 million contract he got from the Carolina Panthers. Given that the Jets paid Breshad Perriman just $2 million less on a one-year deal, it’s hard to say he wouldn’t be worth it.
By in large, though, Douglas did his part in not mortgaging the future and still improving Darnold’s situation, if only marginally.
But did the Jets organization do their part to set Darnold up for success in year three? It’s hard to look at the roster right now and say that they did.
Next: 2. Michael Henken
2. Michael Henken: Did the NY Jets do enough to help Sam Darnold?
The main objective for the Jets this past offseason was incredibly clear and it was to surround young quarterback Sam Darnold with more talent on the offensive side of the football in order to put him in the best position to continue to grow and develop.
And with the beginning of the season now just weeks away, it can be argued that the Jets certainly took some steps towards achieving that goal.
One of the team’s biggest weaknesses last season was the offensive line and the unit now looks completely different thanks to the additions of Mekhi Becton, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and George Fant.
The Jets were also in desperate need of play-making pass catchers and addressed the position by adding Breshad Perriman, who performed well towards the end of last season, and Denzel Mims, one of the top receivers in the 2020 NFL Draft class.
With new faces at various offensive positions, Darnold should find more success in 2020, but did the Jets do enough in terms of getting him help? Well, only time will tell, but I think it’s safe to say that while the team added talent, there’s still more work to be done.
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With so many holes, it’s difficult to completely fix everything in one offseason, especially when an entire offensive line needs to be rebuilt and when a No. 1 receiver is needed.
So in my opinion, the Jets likely haven’t done enough just yet, but the team has indeed made progress. And with four first-round picks in the next two drafts, I believe the Jets are on the right track in terms of giving Darnold the help he needs to succeed.
Next: 3. Mike Mitchell
3. Mike Mitchell: Did the NY Jets do enough to help Sam Darnold?
The knee jerk answer to this question is no. Maybe it’s probably closer to the truth.
The belief is that if the Jets enhanced the blocking up front, Sam Darnold’s game would elevate along with it. Improving the offensive line was the team’s top priority, and on paper, they have done precisely that.
The additions of George Fant, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and the drafting of Mekhi Becton and Cameron Clark will aid the Jets in creating an ideal working environment for Darnold to operate within.
It’s something that Sam Darnold hasn’t had since being drafted. An offensive line that can create room in the run game and give him a clean pocket to throw in.
These two elements work hand-in-hand in making a quarterback’s job easier. The improvement of the Jets in these areas will give Darnold a better chance to succeed. So that’s where the ‘maybe’ comes into play.
No is supported by the fact that the Jets didn’t do much to improve Darnold’s passing targets. The Jets are rolling the dice on their outside receivers.
Gone is Darnold’s favorite weapon and the teams’ best big-play threat in Robby Anderson. In his place is veteran speedster Breshad Perriman.
Some would classify this as an even trade-off, but until chemistry between Darnold and Perriman develops and until Perriman proves himself to be reliable and durable, the jury is out.
The Perriman acquisition has the feel of a short-term fix or band-aid. The length of his contract reflects that.
Rookie Denzel Mims has significant upside. He has the size (6-foot-3) and the speed (4.30 40-yard dash) to replace what Anderson brought to the table.
Mims has more physicality than Anderson — something that the Jets have lacked at the receiver position — but he is far from a refined route-runner or pass-catcher. The Jets can’t afford to bring Mims along slowly because of their lack of depth on the outside.
Mims is expected to produce immediately, and the Jets offense needs him to. For Jets fans, the hope is that Denzel Mims isn’t a Stephen Hill sequel. The comparisons are eerily similar.
The Jets’ strategy on offense in 2020 appears to be as followed.
Deep threats on the outside like Perriman, Mims, and the unheralded Vyncint Smith to open up the run game, and by doing so, it will also open up the passing game underneath with the likes of reliable targets, Jamison Crowder, Braxton Berrios, and the returning Chris Herndon.
It sounds good in theory, but the strategy falls apart if the Jets’ new offensive line doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
Joe Douglas couldn’t rebuild Rome in a day. He started by building the team from the inside first. The outside is next on the agenda.
Sam Darnold is probably a year away from getting exactly what he needs to reach his potential as an elite passer, but he’s closer than he was last year.
Next: 4. Tyler Capossela
4. Tyler Capossela: Did the NY Jets do enough to help Sam Darnold?
Short Answer: Yes
Sam Darnold has stared adversity right in the face ever since entering the league back in 2018.
It’s silly to assume Joe Douglas can fix Darnold’s entire offensive situation with just one offseason under his belt, considering the mess he was thrust into, thanks to Mike Maccagnan.
But, he sure tried his best.
With upgrades along the offensive line and at wide receiver, the offense already looks plenty better than it did two years ago, as Darnold was progressing through his reads, eventually finding one Andre Roberts (!) in the back of the end zone.
That era couldn’t have ended fast enough.
Fast-forward a couple of years. New GM, ascending QB, a head coach with something to prove. This should make for an interesting 2020, to say the least.
The offensive line should be much improved as Douglas had made it a priority to upgrade the front-five this offseason. Although left guard Alex Lewis will be returning, there’s slated to be four new faces along the offensive line that should provide Darnold with some much-needed security.
At wide receiver, the Jets have made changes that should benefit Darnold’s development and his ability to throw the ball downfield.
With Denzel Mims stepping into the fold as a second-round pick, Breshad Perriman signing a one-year deal in free agency, and Jamison Crowder set to return in the slot, the team looks to have enough weapons to fortify Sam Darnold’s growth for at least the short-term.
All in all, Darnold’s ability to lead the team to victory will be what shows up on the scoreboard in the end, but it sure will be fulfilling to see help along the way.
Next: 5. James Cunningham
5. James Cunningham: Did the NY Jets do enough to help Sam Darnold?
I believe that the Jets did plenty to help Sam Darnold this offseason.
Joe Douglas stuck to his word, revamping the offensive line that was among the worst in the league. There are projected to be at least three new starters on the line this season, all of whom I consider to be upgrades from their predecessors.
However, the wide receivers the Jets are providing Darnold with does concern me a little. Although I loved what Breshad Perriman did to finish the 2019 season, the idea of him as a number one wideout for 16 games isn’t ideal for Darnold.
I believe Denzel Mims and Chris Herndon will be the ultimate wild card factors for how Darnold fares in 2020. Herndon was Darnold’s favorite target in his rookie season, but he didn’t get to have him on the field for more than a half of football in year two.
If he can stay healthy, he can be a difference-maker along with Ryan Griffin. Mims is under a lot of pressure as a rookie expected to start, but if he can become a valuable asset, the Jets offense can be a lot better than many expect it to be.
Overall, I think the Jets did a fair job helping Darnold in the offseason. If Adam Gase can improve in 2020, and the offensive line does its part, the absence of a true number one wide receiver can be somewhat disguised.
Time will tell if that takes place this season.
Next: 6. Brian Rudman
6. Brian Rudman: Did the NY Jets do enough to help Sam Darnold?
Joe Douglas certainly added plenty of potential talent around Darnold in the offseason, the problem is that many of the players that Douglas has added either haven’t fully developed yet or have shown signs of greatness as well as struggles.
At this point, however, I would say the simple answer is yes. The offensive line can’t be any worse than it has been in the past, Mekhi Becton will (hopefully) protect Darnold’s blindside for many years to come. The increased athleticism on the line will also help Darnold immensely.
In terms of weapons that Darnold will have at his disposal, there was not an overabundance added to the team this offseason. While the Jets still have Le’Veon Bell and Jamison Crowder, the team lost their best outside threat in Robby Anderson.
The Jets will not have a proven weapon on the outside, although there are plenty of candidates that can step into that role. Whether it be Denzel Mims, Breshad Perriman, or maybe someone like Vyncint Smith, all of these guys have the potential to be very good.
Either way, the offensive line looks like it has improved and the wide receiver core has made some additions that have the potential to be very rewarding for the Jets.
So at this point, I would say yes, the Jets have done enough to get Sam Darnold help this offseason.
Next: 7. Alex Wendling
7. Alex Wendling: Did the NY Jets do enough to help Sam Darnold?
The biggest issue for Sam Darnold last season was that his offensive line was a travesty. However, this offseason, Joe Douglas made it a necessity to beef up the offensive line after finishing as the 28th ranked offensive line in 2019 according to Pro Football Focus.
Douglas added veterans Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and Geroge Fant while also drafting Mekhi Becton with the team’s first-round pick. The Jets offensive line has potential to be a top-10 line in 2020.
If Becton pans out and if Van Roten along with McGovern can play as they did in 2019, this offensive line will be a drastic improvement from last season.
The wide receiver situation is another hot-button topic.
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After losing Robby Anderson in free agency, the team replaced him with former first-round pick Breshad Perriman who played lights out over the final three weeks of last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hauling in 17 receptions for 349 yards and four touchdowns.
Other than Perriman, the Jets have Jamison Crowder returning for his second season in green and white after leading the team in 2019 with 833 receiving yards. And how can you talk about the Jets receivers and not mention rookie Denzel Mims?
Like most fans, I’m excited to see Mims in action. He is a big physical wide receiver who is great with the deep ball and can use his height and reach to catch over defenders — the Jets haven’t had someone like that since Brandon Marshall in 2015.
Most fans will say that the Jets have an issue at wide receiver, but in my opinion, this wide receiving core can be solid.
I think the biggest issue is the offensive line because as long as they can give time for Darnold to throw I think he can elevate not just his play but everyone else around him.