New York Jets: Offensive expectations for upcoming season

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

Last season was riddled with ups-and-downs, breaking news and even mono. Through it all, the New York Jets managed to finish 7-9, which was better than most expected. In Adam Gase‘s second season, and Sam Darnold’s third, the offense should be able to improve. After all, they can’t go anywhere but up after finishing with the last-ranked total offense last season. Let’s take a look at what should be expected from each offensive position group this upcoming campaign:

 

Quarterback

Even though the team finished with a losing record at 7-9, Sam Darnold was 7-6 as a starter. That’s far better than his 4-12 record as a rookie. He also increased his touchdown amount from 17 to 19 and threw two fewer interceptions, down from 15 to 13. Those aren’t major improvements but they’re improvements nonetheless. That’s a good sign, especially since the improvements were with a new head coach and a somewhat thin supporting cast.



Darnold’s final stat line from last season was 3,024 yards, 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 13 games. If he didn’t miss games due to mono, there’s no doubt that he would’ve had over 20 touchdowns. Barring any injuries or illnesses this upcoming season, fans should expect to see Darnold throw over 20-25 touchdowns and move toward 4,000 yards. With recent signee Joe Flacco hopefully mentoring and improvements to surrounding playmaking positions, Darnold should take a nice leap for the Jets.

 

Running Back

Last offseason’s signing of Le’Veon Bell sparked a lot of excitement heading into the season. The former All-Pro running back was one of the biggest names in free agency, if not the biggest. He was expected to be a huge part of the offense and, well, that wasn’t necessarily the case. Two seasons removed from 1,291 rushing yards, 655 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns, Bell posted the second-fewest total yards of his career. In 15 games, he totaled 789 rushing yards, 461 receiving yards and just 4 total touchdowns. With more familiarity and an improved offensive line, Bell should get back to around 1,000 rushing yards and 500 receiving yards. He probably won’t be posting numbers similar to his career-best, but he should post better numbers.

Fourth-round pick Lamical Perine and free-agent signee Frank Gore should be able to provide situational help for the run game. Gore isn’t nearly what he once was but can still provide spot-help if needed. He shouldn’t be expected to surpass 400, or maybe, even 300 yards this season since his usage will be lessened. He could see time as a late-down option, such as on third-and-one scenarios, for example.

Perine is an interesting player because he could be sprinkled into different scenarios like Bilal Powell was used to. Perine can run between the tackles but can also provide some assistance in the passing game. I expect Perine to see more field time than Frank Gore simply because of his limited wear-and-tear.

 

Wide Receiver

Robby Anderson was one of the top options from last season, but he is now in Carolina. I say “top option” here with a grain of salt because he posted just 52 receptions for 779 yards and 5 touchdowns across all 16 games. Sure, that is not all on him, but those numbers should be higher for one of the better options on the outside. I believe those numbers could easily be replicated by second-round pick Denzel Mims. The Baylor product should be expected to become a major part of the passing attack from the get-go. His speed, deep ball tracking ability and reliability in college should allow Darnold to rely on him from the beginning. He should be expected to grab at least 50 receptions for around 750-800 yards, at least.

Jamison Crowder posted solid numbers in his first season with Gang Green. He totaled 78 receptions for 833 yards and 6 touchdowns while working mostly from the slot. Aside from his playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, Crowder provided last-resort help for Darnold while he was under duress. Crowder should post similar numbers, though possibly with a slight decrease, due to numerous additions.

Free-agent signee Breshad Perriman was brought in to replace Robby Anderson. Perriman, in 14 games, posted career-highs with 36 receptions, 645 yards and 6 touchdowns last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Those numbers definitely don’t jump off the page but he was not brought in with the expectations of a 1,000-yard receiver. He’s a guy who could see a slight jump in numbers and have between 700-750 yards.

Other additions, such as Josh Doctson, could provide fill-in assistance in small doses but shouldn’t be expected to drastically improve. Doctson is somewhat of a mystery, in terms of production, and will most likely be used sparingly. Regardless, expect Mims, Crowder and Perriman to be the top options, maybe in that order. The receiving group will be working collectively to produce for New York.

Tight End

The tight end position should be controlled by Ryan Griffin and Chris Herndon throughout the season. Griffin didn’t have spectacular numbers, but when used, he provided much needed receiving help. He totaled 34 receptions for 320 yards and 5 touchdowns on his way to a new three-year, $10.8 million contract. Griffin shouldn’t be expected to drastically improve in production and should most likely produce similar numbers, especially if Herndon plays.

Chris Hernon has shown some flashes of playmaking ability while on the field. However, he played in just one game last season due to a suspension and injuries. He has more upside as a playmaker than Griffin but needs to stay on the field. If he ends up staying on the field, he should be expected to post similar numbers to Griffin. He may exceed him a little, potentially closer to 400 yards. He’s capable of more, but as we’ve seen throughout the years, tight end isn’t a high usage position for this offense.

 



Offensive Line

The Jets have been towards the bottom in offensive line rankings for some time. It has been a position group that has needed to be revamped and it may have finally happened. Connor McGovern was brought in to become the new starting center after starting all 16 games for Denver last season. The team also signed tackle George Fant and guard Alex Lewis. Perhaps the biggest addition though, in both ability and size, is the 6-foot-7, 364-pound tackle Mekhi Becton. He was selected with pick 11 in the draft and helps solidify the left side of the line.

The offensive line shouldn’t be expected to become one of the top lines in the league but could finish as a middle-of-the-pack unit. If that happens, that could cause a major improvement for the whole offense. Le’Veon Bell could run more patiently, which he likes, and Sam Darnold would have more time to go through his progressions. This new starting offensive line should be improved and should be held to higher expectations than fans have been used to.

Bottom Line

With all of the additions to the offense, the Jets should make games more exciting and should be expected to put more pressure on opposing defenses. They probably won’t be a top-10 offense this upcoming season, but fans should expect the team to exceed their average of 17.3 points-per-game last season.

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