After yet another season deprived of a postseason campaign, Todd Bowles and company are desperate to change the culture in New York.
Although better than expected last year – winning five games – the Jets have their eyes set on being more than a three or four-seed in the AFC East. By drafting USC quarterback Sam Darnold and inking deals with some of the league’s best available talent, Gang Green is primed to turn heads in 2018.
Below are three key areas the team must find consistency in if they wish to be successful next year.
Whatever Bowles decides to do with his three-headed monster under center, New York must find a starter beyond 2018.
Josh McCown may be the best, and safest, option come Week 1. However, Darnold and Teddy Bridgewater provide the team with something the 39-year-old can’t, youth. At this point it would be wise for the Jets to consider Bridgewater as more than a trade-chip. Yes, the team drafted Darnold with the intention of one day handing him the keys to the city – not everything goes as planned.
Bridgewater has turned heads this offseason and it would be foolish to move him without first doing your due-diligence on a potential franchise quarterback. Ultimately, Darnold will likely find his way onto the field in 2018 and rightfully so. Just don’t forget, this team is in dire need of consistency at the position. Bridgewater or Darnold, they’d be happy to find a long-term solution in either.
Along with a quality offensive-line and running game, a quarterback’s best friend is his favorite wide receiver. Not only do the Jets not have a true No. 1, but they are full of question-marks at the position.
The projected starters, as of today, are Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse and Quincy Enunwa. Beyond that, the team is crowded with unproven talent – Terrelle Pryor, Chad Hansen, ArDarius Stewart (facing a two-game suspension for PEDs), Lucky Whitehead, Charone Peake, Charles Johnson, Tre McBride, Andre Roberts, and Jonah Trinnaman.
Anderson and Kearse are the only two receivers on the roster who contributed any meaningful numbers to the passing game last season. Anderson led the team with 63 receptions for 941 yards and seven touchdowns. Kearse, acquired in a trade with Seattle for Sheldon Richardson, recorded 65 receptions for 810 yards and five touchdowns.
If the Jets are to get the ball rolling on offense in 2018, they must have a receiver or two emerge from the pack. After losing ASJ to the Jaguars this offseason, the team is also scarce at tight-end – that’s a problem for another day.
Last season was full of surprises for a team expected to see a goose-egg in the win column. Among them, the addition of Morris Claiborne proved that an elite secondary could be around the corner.
After going back-to-back on safeties in the 2017 draft, the Jets took a gamble on Claiborne after an injury-ridden stint with Dallas. Although playing 15 games last season, the team had another problem at corner – Buster Skrine lining up out-wide as well.
Traditionally a slot corner, Skrine was exposed in coverage in 2017 for playing out of position. While Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye impressed in their rookie campaigns, something else was missing from the defense. Arguably, a lockdown corner is what New York needed most to get them over the hump.
After acquiring Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib this offseason, the Rams were no longer in need of Trumaine Johnson’s services. Lucky for the Jets, a No. 1 corner became available at the same time they led the league in cap-space. Johnson became a Jet to the tune of $72.5 million over the next five years.
With Johnson and Claiborne out wide, Skrine back in the slot, and the sophomore-safety tandem patrolling over-top, this defense has the potential to erase the opposition’s aerial-threat. The upcoming season could bring the best defense New York has seen since Darrelle Revis in 2009.