3 small NY Jets moves that could make a big difference in 2024

These under-the-radar moves could make a big impact in 2024
Greg Zuerlein
Greg Zuerlein / Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
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After the 2023 season, it was clear that the NY Jets had some serious holes to fill. The roster featured an impressive young core and would be returning from injury a future Hall of Fame quarterback, yet still reinforcements were needed.

And those reinforcements came in the form of left tackle Tyron Smith, right tackle Morgan Moses, and wide receiver Mike Williams among others. The Jets now have a roster that on paper is one of the strongest in the NFL.

Sometimes though the moves that a team makes that fly under the radar are the ones that end up leaving the biggest impact. Unheralded players can reach new heights and niche contributors can come up big in crucial moments.

While the Gang Green faithful wait with bated breath to see what it looks like for quarterback Aaron Rodgers to return to action with his stud blindside protector, Smith, protecting him as he launches bombs downfield to the elite deep threat Williams, we're going to talk about three less sexy names that could have impacts that well out-pace their expectations.

1. NY Jets sign John Simpson

Going into the offseason, it was clear that the offensive line needed several upgrades. The first reinforcement signed was the least buzzy name — that of former Baltimore Ravens guard John Simpson.

Simpson is a 26-year-old former fourth-round pick who is now on his third team in five years. The Las Vegas Raiders cast him aside, then he signed to the Ravens' practice squad before winning their left guard starting position in 2023.

As a starter with the Ravens in 2023, Simpson committed 11 penalties which was second most among offensive linemen on the season.

All of this lead combined with the fact that he was the first, and at the time presumably biggest, move the Jets made to fix their tattered and torn offensive line led to the lukewarm reaction to the signing. Since then, the consensus analysis has been that Simpson is fine if he's your fifth-best offensive lineman.

There's another side to this though that has been under-explored. Offensive line play is generally judged by three main components — technique, athleticism, and nastiness. That third one has been something the Jets have sorely been lacking even in the few instances the offensive line has been healthy.

Players like George Fant, Connor McGovern, and Duane Brown were more finesse players, better known for their athleticism than their mean streak. Mekhi Becton was viewed as soft, sometimes feuding with the media and lacking the killer instinct to drive his performance forward and his opponents into the turf.

This is not a problem with Simpson, as he is an absolute mauler who enjoys planting opposing players into the turf and playing through the whistle. While you never want to see penalties, of all the penalties he was called for in 2023 only two were false starts.

Instead, he limited boneheaded focus penalties like the aforementioned false starts to a minimum and instead drew flags for things like unnecessary roughness and holding. Again, you never want to see penalties, but they are a little more bearable when it's obvious the guy is trying to make a play and enforce his will.

With the change from a wide-zone blocking scheme based on athleticism and finesse to a gap power scheme based on toughness and power having a guy with a nasty streak like Simpson is a great fit.

At only 26, he's also a guy whose career is still ascending. Despite arriving in Baltimore with a lack of fanfare, he produced well enough to be at least an average starter, one that the Ravens will miss this season.

If he can clean up some of the penalties while maintaining the nasty streak that he's developed a reputation for while continuing to improve his technique Simpson could prove to be a difference-maker this year.

Even if he's only able to infuse his linemates with his trademark enforcer style it will go a long way toward helping the team beat down upon their opposition.