The Jets went ahead and spent the majority of their $100m+ in cap space this offseason upgrading their defense. General Manager Mike Maccagnan quickly turned his sights to marquee players Trumaine Johnson and Avery Williamson after falling short in the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes.
And while a fair amount of that money was also spent adding pieces to the offense, none of it was apparently enough to move the Jets out of being the league’s worst offensive arsenal, according to ESPN’s Bill Barwnell.
For the second year in a row, Barnell ranked the Jets 32nd in the league, seemingly unmoved from the signings of Terrelle Pryor and Isaiah Crowell. Not to mention the re-emergence of Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse.
Here’s what Barnwell had to say about the potential of the 2018 Jets:
Former undrafted free-agent wide receiver Robby Anderson leads the way, but the secondary targets are low-ceiling veterans such as Jermaine Kearse and Terrelle Pryor. General manager Mike Maccagnan let Austin Seferian-Jenkins leave, but the duo of former Raiders backup Clive Walford and fourth-round pick Chris Herndon form the majority of one of the league’s worst tight end depth charts. The move to spend $4 million per year on anonymous Browns back Isaiah Crowell doesn’t move the needle. The Jets will be investing in skill-position talent next offseason.
Is it accurate?
Well firstly, let’s take a look at how Barnwell reached this conclusion on Gang Green. His rankings were decided by the following:
These rankings are attempting to consider a team’s skill-position talent without including the impact of the quarterback, offensive line or scheme. Let me repeat that again. These rankings are attempting to consider a team’s skill-position talent without including the impact of the quarterback, offensive line or scheme. It’s not possible to totally extricate one from the other, but this will be an educated guess.
These rankings don’t include contract value. I might mention a contract here or there, but this analysis is strictly about on-field performance.
I’m solely considering how these players will perform in 2018.Long-term value beyond this upcoming season doesn’t matter. It’s impossible to project injuries, so I’m using each player’s recent injury history as an estimate of his availability for this year.
The arsenals are weighted more toward receivers. All you have to do is take a look at contracts to see how the league values wideouts versus tight ends and running backs. The largest active annual salary on an extension for a running back is LeSean McCoy, at $8 million per year. That’s what Trey Burton and Kenny Stills average on the deals they’ve signed over the past two offseasons.
Top-level talent wins out over depth. These rankings are weighted heavily toward each team’s top five weapons, given that each squad will line up five skill-position players on most snaps. Organizations with truly remarkable depth at the skill-position spots will get a slight bump, but no team has an Antonio Brown lurking on its bench.
Finally, I didn’t mention everyone. Every team has a rookie midround pick or a veteran with some history of success lurking as their sixth or seventh option. Most of them will have only a modest impact. Mentioning all of them would turn this into an even longer piece.
With receivers being Barnwell’s biggest factor, let’s start there.
In 2017, the Jets nearly had two 1,000 yard receivers in Anderson and Kearse. Adding proven receivers in Pryor and Enunwa into the mix could result in a pretty lethal receiving corps, right? Take it this way, the Jets are the only team in the NFL with four receivers on their roster who have all had an 800+ yard season.
Yet, Pryor and Enunwa are returning from injuries, and Anderson really only shined as being a straight-shot speedy receiver (not a bad thing). It could make sense that the Jets are lower on the list in this regard, especially with all the question marks. However, is it really valid to place them behind team’s such as the Bills and Seahawks? Buffalo’s depth starts at Kelvin Benjamin with Zay Jones and former Jet Jeremy Kerley not far behind. Seattle is more of the same. This seems questionable, Barnwell.
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ICYMI: I wrote a very important intro you should read and then ranked the offensive weapons for each team from 32 to 1 https://t.co/WngdnFzPLm
— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) July 11, 2018
The running back position brings a bit more light to the situation. Isaiah Crowell, Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire are no three-headed monster. Crowell and Powell have both been overlooked throughout their careers though. Crowell is coming off of back-to-back seasons with 800+ rushing yards, and Powell has proven to the Jets he can be a workhorse.
Unfortunately, these impressions get buried under the rest of the league’s stars. Currently, their careers don’t come close to that of Le’Veon Bell, LeSean McCoy or even Ezekiel Elliot. While I believe the Jets will certainly see a gradual improvement in the backfield this season, it won’t be enough to turn heads. Still, the Jets can’t have the worst backfield in the league, right?
And lastly, the tight end position is hard to argue with. Once the Jets finally found success there a year ago with Austin Seferian-Jenkins, they back pedal to the unknown. Walford and Herdon are huge question marks. Yes, they could turn out to be great adds, but that has yet to be seen. There’s a huge cloud surrounding the Jets’ TE position, so I agree with Barnwell here.
What do you think? Are Barnwell’s rankings accurate?