Everyone in the National Football League has heard the same old joke about the same old teams. “It could be worse, we could be the Browns,” or “At least we have a quarterback unlike the Jets.”
That last one has been around a long time now, and it seems at this point (with recent years backing this up) that the Jets are doomed to be in the slump. Now, the understanding is to be a good offensive team, you need great wide receivers, a dual threat running back, a quarterback that can throw, and an offense line to protect the pocket. The New York Jets have one of those things. Maybe, one and a half? As far as their wide receivers on the field, performance could always be better, but off the field is another story. The running back part is at the very least…oh what’s the word? You could say lacking in a lot of different fields.
The Running Dilemma
To be frank about it, the Jets haven’t had a really good running back since Hall of Famer Curtis Martin. When I say that I mean guys who stayed on for more than a season or two. I am excluding LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight because they were exceptions to the case. But again, no really good running back in quite some time. And sure, the Jets had big names pass through that position with most notably and recently Matt Forte, the Future Hall of Famer and ex-Chicago Bear. While his performance stats have not been entirely his fault due to a knee injury he had sustained while in Chicago, he isn’t one to keep playing at such a high caliber for much longer.
This then leads to the next running back on the roster, Bilal Powell, who the Jets took in the 2011 NFL Draft. While he remained an untapped talent standing behind Chris Ivory, the Jets kept him nonetheless. And when he had his breakout season in 2015, Jets fans cheered. However, when Matt Forte was brought on board that cheering was cut in half. And when they switched between running backs and the run game was going down hill, the cheering stopped all together.
Quite simply, the run game is there, however, the Jets need to find a way to utilize only one back instead of three. This could fix a lot of their offensive issues.
— The Jet Press (@TheJetPress) January 9, 2018
Did Someone Say Quarterback?
Now the question that is haunting every Jets fan and possibly management within the organization is “Who will be quarterback?” This question has haunted every Jets fan since Chad Pennington retired and Jets nation were left with Mark Sanchez, or his more known infamous name of Butt-fumble.
Once Ryan Fitzpatrick was brought on Jets fans thought the Butt-fumble fiasco would disappear and the Fitz-Magic era would come in due to his stellar 2015 performance. Then the offseason came and the bearded Magic man demanded more money and held out during OTAs until management finally caved in. The sigh of relief came soon after and the Jets were saved.
During the 2016 season the Fitz-Magic had dried up. The journeyman was shown the door after his 5-11 season which he sat out the final few games for rookie backup Bryce Petty. When the 2017 season came still no franchise quarterback was nowhere to be found, but journeyman Josh McCown of the Cleveland Browns stepped in to help.
Now when you think about someone coming from the winless Browns (excuse me the 1-15 Browns), you tend to think that this player is not good in anyway. Well, McCown proved everyone wrong and allowed Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse and Jeremy Kerley to come into the spotlight. He posted up career highs and Jet record-breaking numbers… then the Jets luck struck again. McCown had broken his hand in the game against the Broncos to which they posted a record-breaking low number on offense and defense. Then the dread set in as Petty took the center once more. After last season going 1-3, the fans knew they were in for a rough rest of the season. They were right. The Jets lost all but one game for the rest of the season and ended 5-11 again.
The Jets offensive line had been a disaster roller coaster last season. This has now allowed the management to see the struggles and where they need to improve. Since the departure of Nick Mangold, former Pro Bowl center, the Jets have struggled on offense in the line.
Mangold was the anchor and leader on the offensive side of the ball since there was no definite quarterback. He provided stability, so when he was cut, his understudy Wesley Johnson has been asked to fulfill some big shoes. While Johnson has not done a terrible job, he seems to be lacking some skills including communication and coordination. Like what Mangold did, Johnson’s job is to direct his line to see all of the blitz and rushers and protect the quarterback. But unlike Mangold, he is doing not such a good job and the quarterback’s pocket is collapsing more often than not. Johnson is not the sole person to blame for the line not performing well, however. Guard Brent Qvale and guard James Carpenter have been having their ups and downs. Tackle Kelvin Beachum and tackle Brendon Shell have not been performing at peak performance either.
Will the Jets Ever Take Off?
If the Jets ever want to become a contender amongst teams such as the division rival Patriots, then they must work on their offensive line. Having Johnson step up and push his line around will allow the run game to develop. It could also even stop the blitz from sacking the quarterback is the first step.
That being said, the Jets must establish a better run game. They must develop a dual threat with the ability to run the ball down the field and catch it.
Finally, the Jets must find a signal caller. They need one who will be with the franchise for a long while and one they can count on. If they find their signal caller and complete the other two steps offensively, they may finally be able to become a competitive team.