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2020 Team Report: New York Jets

Last updated: Fri, May 22

Offensive Philosophy

Adam Gase first rose to national prominence coordinating the 2013 Denver Broncos offense that broke the all-time NFL scoring record. His 2014 Broncos ranked in the top 5 in both points scored and yards gained. But none of the offenses he has overseen since (one year with Chicago, three with Miami, and one with New York) have managed to finish in the top half of the league in either points scored or yards gained. Part of the reason for this is because of the pace they tend to play at. Adam Gase's teams consistently rank in the bottom five in terms of pace of play- how long they take to line up and snap the football- which leads to fewer passes, fewer runs, fewer yards, and fewer touchdowns. When his offenses do snap the ball, they direct a disproportionate amount of their targets to their wide receivers, to the point where Gase's third receivers often see target shares more on par with many teams' second receivers. (Because of the slow pace, "high target shares" typically don't translate to "high target totals".) Gase has historically not used his running backs as much in the passing game and has preferred to use his second back a good deal to keep his top back fresh, but he made exceptions on both points last year after the acquisition of do-everything star Le'Veon Bell.

Quarterbacks

Starter: Sam Darnold
Backup(s): Joe Flacco, David Fales, Mike White, James Morgan [R]

Starting QB: This is a pivotal year for third-year quarterback Sam Darnold and he faces the season with a receiving corps minus Robby Anderson, although Jamison Crowder outproduced the now-former Jet. Darnold didn't flourish under then-new head coach Adam Gase, first in part because he got mono and then with some awful games when he returned including a 86 yard, four pick affair against New England in Week 7 and a 218, two touchdown but three interception game the next week against Jacksonville. The rest of his season was uneven, even the much-heralded final stretch where the team limped to wins over the Dolphins, Steelers and a Bills team resting their starters for the playoffs. The offensive philosophy abandoned Darnold at times as well, such as during the surprising 22-6 drubbing by Cincinnati when the Gase decided to abandon the run early and force his quarterback to throw 48 passes despite a bad offensive line and a run defense so poor that LeVeon Bell should have had a field day against it without breaking a sweat. On the plus side, the last portion of the season showed better decision-making and poise from Darnold, and he stepped up in big moments several times. The hope is that with a second offseason with Gase, Darnold can finally knock the dents out of his game and emerge as the Jets franchise quarterback.

Backup QB: Joe Flacco was signed to a one-year, $1.5 million deal. He had neck surgery in April and might not be ready for Week 1, but if he is, he'll be the backup to Darnold. The team signed David Fales to a one-year contract, but he's never shown the ability to be a reliable backup. He's a favorite of Adam Gase's however, and had a cup of coffee with the team last season when the position was hammered by injuries and illness, so he's familiar with Gase's offense and the scheme the team is running. Mike White is a 2018 fifth round pick by the Dallas Cowboys who never saw the field, has good arm strength but is a statue in the pocket. Whether either one will be beaten out by fourth round pick James Morgan remains to be seen. Morgan has good zip on the ball but has significant accuracy issues, poor footwork and his lack of mobility makes him struggle to escape pressure. He's a purely developmental quarterback, so if Flacco isn't ready for Week 1, the team might have to carry four quarterbacks.

Running Backs

Starter: Le′Veon Bell
Backup(s): Kenneth Dixon, Josh Adams, Trenton Cannon, La'Mical Perine [R], Frank Gore
Fullback(s):

Starting RB: Shocked LeVeon Bell is still wearing Jets green? Most are after his almost criminal misuse under head coach Adam Gase last season. A player that it is patently clear Gase would never have signed if he had a choice, Bell carried the ball for 20 or more runs just three times, didn't top 100 yards once and struggled behind a porous offensive line. Back in Miami, Gase used a committee more than once in the backfield, and had a penchant for alienating talented players. This relationship is one to watch, and there is every chance Bell ends up in a committee this year. If not, the offensive line has been marginally improved and if the passing offense can prove itself a threat, Bell could have a bounce-back year. Under a different coach this would be a more reliable possibility, but with Gase and Bell's relationship strained, we aren't betting on it.

Backup RBs: Kenneth Dixon was never quite healthy last season as he recovered from a broken knee, and was released by the Baltimore Ravens in early September, landing with the Jets in mid-December. He served as bench depth but was never active for the team, who is clearly hoping he can come back to 100% and contribute as a backup to LeVeon Bell or as part of a committee. Josh Adams spent a lot of time on the practice squad before getting pulled up in November to keep him from being poached by another team. He struggled behind a shaky offensive line like everyone else. He never fully shone in Philadelphia during 2018, but in college showed some burst and speed. Trenton Cannon is a special teams player who dabbles in running the ball to middling effect, or at least did in 2018. Last season he got no carries and we expect more of the same this year. La'Mical Perine was acquired in the fourth round and was decent value for the spot. Perine is considered nothing more than an able backup, a jack of many trades, master of none type who can help bolster the Jets depth in the backfield. Frank Gore is an intriguing addition to the squad and could negatively impact Bell's upside and production. Adam Gase loved Gore in Miami, and rumor has it he preferred Gore to Bell in the first place. We've seen Adam Gase mess with the rotation of running backs before and while Gore is definitely on the downside of his career, he's effective enough to where we could see Gase using him and keeping Bell on the sideline.

Fullback:

Wide Receivers

Starters: Jamison Crowder, Breshad Perriman
Backups: Josh Doctson, Vyncint Smith, Joshua Bellamy, Braxton Berrios, Denzel Mims [R], Lawrence Cager [R]

Starting WRs: With the departure of Robby Anderson for Carolina, Jamison Crowder takes over as the top receiver for the team. While he did disappear at times due to coverage or scheme, he and quarterback Sam Darnold seemed to have great chemistry, and Crowder's ability to gash defenses across the middle and occasionally out of the slot was a huge help to a quarterback who had no time to throw or to allow other options to get downfield or get open. Crowder is going to see even more attention without Anderson in the fold, but continues to be a mismatch for coverage across the middle. Breshad Perriman arrives after a one year stint in Cleveland, followed by one in Tampa Bay. An obvious effort to bolster the receiving corps after Anderson left, Perriman can take over the outside vertical routes Anderson ran.

Backup WRs: Josh Doctson was cut by Washington last summer and landed on the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, being activated for one game and accruing no stats. Washington drafted him in the hopes that his speed and toughness would make him an asset for then-quarterback Kirk Cousins, but that never really happened. The Jets are likely looking at him as an upside signing with little to no downside. Vyncint Smith was grabbed off the Houston Texans practice squad last year and played well during stretches for the Jets last season, with his role expanding towards the end, with an injury to Demaryius Thomas opening a job up. Smith has good hands, can run a decent route and has some quickness, all of which the Jets could use. Josh Bellamy was a special teamer for the Chicago Bears last year before the Jets picked him up. He would have likely continued in that role this year, but was placed on the reserve/PUP list and could end up cut. Braxton Berrios has never been more than bench depth for the Jets, something which is unlikely to change this year. Lots of talented receivers dropped in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft, so the Jets were able to grab talented Baylor prospect Denzel Mims even while trading back in the second. Mims has a really nice combination of height and speed, but dropped a little due to issues beating press coverage off the line as well as drops with contested balls. If he can get a handle on those issues, he could be slated to replace the departed Robby Anderson. Lawrence Cager has a big frame and played well at Georgia last season, with sure hands and an ability to fight for the ball.

Tight Ends

Starters: Chris Herndon
Backups: Ryan Griffin, Trevon Wesco (FB), Daniel Brown

The Jets are very excited to get Chris Herndon back in the lineup for a full season, after he was suspended for four games and then battling injuries until being placed on injured reserve after a one-catch performance in Week 10. A dynamic, athletic receiver, Herndon was expected to break out last season before everything got derailed and the hope is he will be able to be a massive weapon for quarterback Sam Darnold, as he was for part of 2018. He will see some competition from Ryan Griffin, who had some good moments last season before he was lost to an ankle injury. However, Griffin is 30 and has already shown his ceiling over the course of his even year career so it's likely he remains a backup barring injury. Trevon Wesco fills the H-Back/tight end/fullback utility knife role, and won't be asked to do more than block again this year, while Daniel Brown is a special teams piece.

Place Kicker

Sam Ficken, Brett Maher: The Jets had a lot of problem areas in 2019, and kicker should be considered one of them. The team went through Chandler Catanzaro and Taylor Bertolet in the preseason, and Kaare Vedvik lasted all of one week, costing them the season opener against the Bills. Sam Ficken was signed after the team tried out at least five kickers, and he was adequate. Ficken did hit a walkoff winner against Miami and fourth quarter kicks in wins against the Giants, Steelers, Cowboys, and Bills, but he also only made 19 of 27 field goals. Seven of the eight misses were from 45 yards or longer, but Ficken also only converted 23 of 26 extra point attempts. The Jets brought in Brett Maher as competition, who lost his job with the Cowboys last year, so this will be one of the true open competitions in camp and the preseason.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Vyncent Smith, Trenton Cannon

Second-year players Braxton Berrios and Vyncent Smith quietly had very solid years returning punts and kickoffs, respectively, for the Jets in 2019. Both should get an opportunity to prove that they can sustain their production over a larger sample. Should they falter, Trenton Cannon has played some on special teams, though he has yet to distinguish himself as a returner.

Punt Returners: Braxton Berrios, Trenton Cannon

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Mekhi Becton [R], LG Alex Lewis, C Connor McGovern, RG Brian Winters, RT Chuma Edoga
Key Backups: OT George Fant, OL Greg Van Roten, OL Josh Andrews, OL Cameron Clarke, OL Jonotthan Harrison

This was a rebuilding offseason for this line as at least three new starters are in the lineup (and the number could be as high as all five). Left tackle Mekhi Becton from Louisville was the team's first-round pick, and center Connor McGovern was signed from Denver. Right tackle will be a battle between Chuma Edoga and Seattle signee George Fant. Greg Van Roten was also added, and he could push Brian Winters at right guard.

Team Defense

The Jets posted a middling 35 sacks and 21 takeaways, but also scored five times on defense and special teams to make them a surprisingly solid option in fantasy leagues. They were also 7th in yards allowed and 16th in points allowed to help their case in leagues that score those measures. They could be even better this year with a healthy CJ Mosley although they still have no edge rush presence to speak of and Pierre Desir is their #1 corner. Gregg Williams got a lot out of this group last year, so taking them in the 16-20th team defense range could bear fruit in best ball leagues. The Jets should also still be considered a matchup/bye/injury option and useful unit for streamers.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Quinnen Williams, DT Steve McLendon, DE Henry Anderson
Backups: DE Nathan Shepherd, DE Kyle Phillips, DE John Franklin-Myers, DT Folorunso Fatukasi

Starting DL: The Jets were hoping to get a true impact player in Williams when they drafted him 3rd overall last year. While he didn't live up those expectations after posting just 2.5 sacks as a rookie, he's likely to take a big step in his development this year and become more of a factor up front. Steve McLendon remains a capable nose tackle but his fantasy potential is minimal and at 34 years old, he's probably not much more than a 2-down option. Henry Anderson had an impressive 7-sack campaign in 2018 to show what he's capable of but then was mostly a non-factor in 2019. He's been limited by injuries for much of his career thus far and will need to stay healthy to help fantasy players.

Backup DL: The Jets backups are unlikely to draw much interest from a fantasy perspective but they are capable players. Nathan Shepherd missed the first half of the season due to suspension but performed well as an interior pass rusher after the trade of Leonard Williams. Kyle Phillips signed as an undrafted free agent last year but wound up leading all defensive linemen on the team in tackles. John Franklin-Myers spent last year on injured reserve but showed some promise as a rookie with the Rams in 2018. Folorunso Fatukasi was a late round pick last year who showed promise and could be in line for a bigger role behind McLendon at nose tackle.

Linebackers

Starters: ILB C.J. Mosley, ILB Avery Williamson, OLB Jordan Jenkins, OLB Tarrell Basham
Backups: ILB Patrick Onwuasor, ILB James Burgess, ILB Blake Cashman, ILB Neville Hewitt, OLB Jabari Zuniga [R], OLB Frankie Luvi, OLB Harvey Langi

Starting LBs: The Jets missed their top two inside linebackers for nearly the entire 2019 season, but hope to have both back healthy in 2020. C.J. Mosley was a big ticket free agent signing a year ago but wound up playing in just two games due to a groin injury that required surgery. When healthy, he's one of the best linebackers in the league and a clear LB1 in fantasy terms. Avery Williamson is coming off ACL surgery in September so should be ready in time for the season but may take some time to get back to where he was. He is also a well-rounded player who was highly productive in 2018 and should form an excellent tandem inside. The edge rushers outside are where the Jets have traditionally been among the weakest teams in the league and that should continue this year. Jordan Jenkins has started to establish himself as a reliable pass rusher with 15 sacks over the last two seasons, but his low tackle numbers limit his fantasy value. Tarrell Basham wound up playing a significant role in 2019 with over 600 defensive snaps but finished with just two sacks and is likely to be replaced at some point.

Backup LBs: In addition to getting their two starters back this year, the Jets also added some insurance with the addition of Patrick Onwuasor. He's a proven commodity from his time in Baltimore and should be ready to step in if either starter suffers an injury. James Burgess was a waiver-wire addition last year who wound up leading the team in tackles while Blake Cashman and Neville Hewitt also got significant starting experience. On the outside, Jabari Zuniga may be the player to watch after the Jets took him in the third round of this year's draft after a productive career rushing the passer at Florida. Frankie Luvi and Harvey Langi are both developmental players who have yet to show much in the league.

Defensive Backs

Starters: SS Jamal Adams, FS Marcus Maye, CB Pierre Desir, CB Arthur Maulet
Backups: S Mathias Farley, S Ashtyn Davis [R], CB Brian Poole, CB Quincy Wilson, CB Blessuan Austin, CB Bryce Hall [R]

Starting DBs: Jamal Adams clearly belongs among the elite group of fantasy safeties, but his tackle numbers fell off last year. While he doesn't have great ball skills and only has two career interceptions, he has offset that with 10 sacks and 5 forced fumbles over the past two seasons. Marcus Maye hasn't been able to build off his impressive rookie season and has been vastly overshadowed by Adams the past two years. He's better suited to playing deep coverage, however, so his fantasy stats will likely remain on the low side without a better pass rush to support him. At cornerback, the Jets signed Pierre Desir in free agency from the Colts and while he's not exactly a #1, he's a solid starter. Arthur Maulet also flashed some potential as a starter last year but may be better suited to a backup role long-term.

Backup DBs: Mathias Farley was a productive starter with the Colts and provides valuable experience at both safety positions. Ashtyn Davis was a third-round pick who may seem redundant with Marcus Maye, but the Jets could also find ways to use him in some three-safety nickel packages. Brian Poole has extensive experience as a nickel back and figures to remain in that role again this year. Quincy Wilson was acquired via trade during the draft, but the former second round pick never really showed much with the Colts. Blessuan Austin also got a chance to play a big role late last year as a rookie and provides additional depth outside. Bryce Hall slipped to the fifth round of the draft due to injury concerns as well as less than ideal speed, but he excelled at the college level and could be a sleeper here.