Fans of the Miami Dolphins are all too familiar with “Gang Green” What will the 2020 New York Jets have in store?
In the first installment of our Know Your Enemy series, we profiled the Buffalo Bills.
Now we take a look at a team on the fringes of decency, or free-fall depending on who you ask.
Head Coach: Adam Gase (30-34, 0-1)
2019 Record: 7-9 overall, 2-6 in AFC East
WR Breshad Perriman
OG Greg Van Roten
C Connor McGovern
OT George Fant
CB Pierre Desir
QB David Fales
WR Robby Anderson
OT Kelvin Beachum
OT Kelechi Osemele
CB Trumaine Johnson
Things Change…yet Stay the Same
The Jets were very active in free agency, adding several new faces mostly on offense.
A glimpse at the list above shows a near mirror image of replacements for those departing players.
Did they actually get better though?
The major addition was wide receiver Breshad Perriman who replaces Robby Anderson as their new deep threat.
If your WR is not on this list do NOT talk to me pic.twitter.com/HmXrKUQsXP
— 𝙗𝙧𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙤𝙣 🎡 (@JamaIAdamsEra) April 15, 2020
Perriman joins New York after spending 2019 in Tampa Bay and signed a contract which could be worth up to 8M with incentives.
Anderson took a more lucrative deal (12M) in Carolina.
The Jets will be Perriman’s fourth team and the 26-year old will look to avoid the journeyman label in New York.
Perriman is the son of former Miami Hurricane great Brett Perriman, who has endured failing health in recent years.
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) April 7, 2020
Perriman is coming off his best season with career highs in receptions (36), yards (645), and touchdowns (6).
Anderson has been the more productive player so far in his career, it will be interesting if Perriman can take that leap this season.
Line Shuffling Continues
The Jets offense in 2019 was not good by any metric you choose.
31st in points per game (17.2).
31st in rushing yards per game (78.6)
32nd in yards per game (273.0).
29th in passing yards per game (194.4)
A lot of the problems start up front, and judging by the offseason transactions the Jets noticed that as well.
Sam Darnold made incremental progression between his rookie and sophomore campaigns.
The Jets are banking on continued growth from Darnold to improve the offensive production.
However he must receive better protection up front, the Jets ranked 29th in sacks allowed (52) and 27th in quarterback hits allowed (106) in 2019.
Adding Greg Van Roten and Connor McGovern to the interior offensive line may help, they both project as starters.
At tackle George Fant is also a likely candidate to start, he is raw in terms of refinement but has the athleticism to match up outside.
“Is there any reason to believe an NFL team would sign him to start at left tackle?” somebody actually asked pic.twitter.com/T0KHmtAJdn
— John P. Gilbert (@JohnPGilbertNFL) February 13, 2020
That athleticism should also help a stagnant running game as he can be a factor at the second level.
Fant can also get to the edge and with a patient runner like Le’Veon Bell the Jets can add some more diversity to their run looks.
Bell is looking to bounce back after a disappointing 2019 season, where he tied a career low with just three touchdowns.
A contract dispute cost Bell his 2018 campaign and he did not look the same last year despite playing in 15 games, his 3.2YPC were a career worst.
At age 28, Bell should still have some tread left and will need a bounce back season to help stabilize the Jets offense.
Despite the additions in free agency, the Jets are serious contenders to take an offensive tackle with the 11th overall pick.
Targets in play with pick 11 include tackles Mekhi Becton, Jedrick Wills, and Tristan Wirfs.
Questions Remain on Defense
The Jets have been known as more of a ground-and-pound, win with defense team over the last several years.
With an offense like theirs, that is one way to stay competitive.
Yet a closer look at the defensive side of the ball unveils some questions.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams did good work with an injury riddled group, especially up front.
New York ranked 7th overall in the NFL and second against the run, allowing just 86.9 yards per game and 3.34 yards per carry.
They did struggle generating any pass rush as they registered just 35 sacks last season.
The Jets were a middle of the pack defense in some aspects, ranking 16th in points allowed per game (22.4) and 17th in passing yards allowed per game (236.2).
Outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins led the Jets with eight sacks, while All-Pro strong safety Jamal Adams added six of his own.
Adams is the catalyst of the defense, with a bold personality that sometimes causes friction.
His play helps cover up some of the deficiencies for the Jets at the cornerback spot, New York managed just 12 interceptions in 2019.
Linebacker Neville Hewitt led the team with just two interceptions as no other Jet had more than one.
If teams can figure out the Jets run defense and open things up down the field, their chances improve significantly.
Will Strong Finish Carry Over?
The Jets went 6-2 over their final eight games after a 1-7 start, finishing with two impressive defensive wins against Pittsburgh (16-10) and Buffalo (13-6).
While those wins showed their formula can succeed temporarily, winning two games while scoring a total of 29 points cannot be sustained long term.
For the Jets to take the next step into playoff contention in what is now a wide open AFC East, they must improve mightily on offense.
It remains to be seen if Adam Gase is a viable head coach to lead them, and if Darnold is the answer at quarterback.
They trended up in the second half of 2019 and have a playoff caliber defense already.
Time will tell if they have enough pieces to contend for a spot in the 2020 NFL postseason.