NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets can turn to these three things for a source of optimism in a difficult 2020 season.
The NY Jets haven’t had much to remain optimistic about in 2020. Through four games, the Jets have easily been the worst team in the NFL with the incompetence of one of the worst teams in recent memory.
From top to bottom, the Jets’ organization is an absolute mess right now. A talentless roster is joined by an inept coaching staff and oblivious owners to produce one disgraceful franchise.
However, we know this already. It’s been well documented this season just how bad the Jets are and how bad they will be throughout the remainder of the year.
For the sake of preserving our sanity, why not focus on some of the few positives with the team at the moment. They may be hard to come by, but it hasn’t been all bad for the Jets in 2020.
It’s just been mostly bad.
When all is said and done, these positives don’t change much. The Jets are still the worst team in the league and bonafide 0-16 contenders. We very well may be discussing this Jets team among the worst teams in NFL history by the end of the season.
But let’s forget about all that for a moment and instead focus on some much-needed optimism.
Honorable mentions: Sam Ficken’s perfect season, Brian Poole’s strong start, Jamison Crowder’s back-to-back 100-yard games, Jeff Smith’s promising Week 4 performance, George Fant’s surprisingly solid start
Next: 3. Quinnen Williams breakout season?
3. Are the NY Jets witnessing a Quinnen Williams breakout season?
The Jets didn’t have many expectations heading into the 2020 season, but one player who was always going to be under a microscope this season was defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.
After a lackluster rookie campaign that saw the No. 3 overall pick finish with just 2.5 sacks while failing to make much of an impact, the Jets were certainly hoping to see more in 2020.
And through four games, it’s already apparent that Williams has made significant strides — perhaps more than most probably realize.
It started with a dominant breakout performance in Week 2 against the San Francisco 49ers where Williams tallied two sacks, a handful of run stuffs, a forced fumble, and a team-leading seven tackles.
It was the best game that Williams had ever played at the NFL level and it reminded Jets fans of the player the team expected him to be when they drafted him third overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
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Two weeks later, Williams was back at it again with an impressive outing in Week 4 against the Denver Broncos. His great night will be overlooked by two personal fouls that wiped out a pair of impressive pass-rush wins, but he was very active for most of the game.
Williams totaled a season-high four pressures which didn’t include the two plays negated by penalties that would have resulted in a QB hit and a sack. On top of that, he added three run stuffs continuing to impress against the run.
So far this season, Williams ranks above average as both a pass-rusher and a run defender. However, his two standout games have been bookended by some less-than-stellar outings in Weeks 1 and 3.
Consistency is key for Williams moving forward. But he already looks significantly better than he did last year.
Next: 2. Young building blocks in the front seven
2. Young building blocks in the NY Jets’ front seven
Aside from Williams, it’s been fun to watch some of the other young pieces in the Jets’ front seven make a name for themselves.
Last season, the Jets were treated to a breakout season out of nowhere from former sixth-round pick Folorunso Fatukasi. This year, a pair of other front-seven members have made their presence felt.
None more so than John Franklin-Myers.
A fourth-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Franklin-Myers saw sporadic playing time as a rookie with the Los Angeles Rams before being waived the following season. The Jets picked him up off waivers last year, but he didn’t play a game with them in part due to injuries.
But a strong summer allowed him to earn a spot on the 53-man roster. And he has made the most of every opportunity he’s received.
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Through four games, Franklin-Myers has received a near-elite 82.8 Pro Football Focus grade which ranks him as the eighth-best defensive lineman in all of football. His 85.6 pass-rush grade is good for fifth in the league.
In three games played, Franklin-Myers has managed a whopping six pressures on just 19 pass-rush snaps for an unheard-of 31.6 percent pressure rate.
The Jets may have found themselves a keeper in Franklin-Myers, and the same goes for undrafted rookie Bryce Huff. Huff has slowly been eased into a starting role on defense playing 60 percent of the team’s defensive snaps this past week.
And with good reason too.
Huff tallied two pressures, two run stuffs, and a key third-down tackle on a Broncos screen pass in Thursday’s loss to Denver. Look for the Jets to roll with Huff and Jordan Jenkins as the starting outside linebackers moving forward.
The Jets’ defense has been bad in 2020, but these two could represent legitimate long-term pieces of the defensive puzzle.
Next: 1. The Mekhi Becton show
1. Mekhi Becton has been one of the NY Jets’ best players
There is one reason and one reason only for Jets fans to continue tuning in each week. And that reason is to see their team’s star rookie shine each and every time he steps foot on the field.
Through four weeks, first-round pick Mekhi Becton has been one of the Jets’ best players — arguably the best. His 72.6 Pro Football Focus grade ranks among the best offensive rookies in his class and it also ranks as the Jets’ second-best overall offensive player behind just Jamison Crowder.
For someone who many saw as a long-term project coming into the NFL, Becton has looked as NFL-ready as any prospect in this past year’s draft class. And at just 21-years-old, the sky is quite literally the limit.
If he’s this good at age 21 in his rookie season, think about how good he might be three years from now. Even the most pessimistic of Jets fans can’t help getting excited about that.
A shoulder injury has slowed his exceptional start just a little, but he’s more than held his own against any challenge thrown his way thus far — injury and all.
The Jets are a complete mess at the moment. The offense is downright unwatchable.
But Becton gives fans hope for the future. And that’s all that anyone could ask for in a season like this.