As a team, the New York Jets have relatively little to lose

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, James Morgan

Individually, the New York Jets have several make-or-break cases. It’s a shame because, from a 2020 point-of-view, they have little to lose.

In the latter stages of “Like a Rolling Stone”, Bob Dylan declares “when you ain’t got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose”.

That’s certainly one way to look at the current state of affairs of the New York Jets. The team is the midst of a nine-year playoff drought (third-longest in the NFL) and, even with expanded playoff invitations, ending it will be a tall task. Established contenders populate the AFC (which will likely run through Kansas City until further notice) and the Jets were dealt a further blow with linebacker C.J. Mosley opting out.

But desperation creates difficult times. With no expectations, this could a time to break out of their shell, take chances, risk it all. After all, this is a team whose few veterans are getting quite sick of the piled-up defeats.

“I’ve been here four, going on five years and I’m tired of f***ing losing,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said earlier this month, per Andy Vazquez of NorthJersey.com. “So, now (we) just got to ramp (things) up and just try to get the ball rolling.”

New York Jets, Jordan Jenkins
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Entering his fifth season in green, Jenkins has been on the wrong end of many an NFL scoreboard. His collegiate career at Georgia endured only 13 losses. That number was surpassed by October of his sophomore season. A strong season (leading the Jets with eight sacks) led to the Jets welcoming him back for another year, but Jenkins, 26, perhaps has plenty to lose as his career enters a crossroads and he seeks to earn a long-term contract, be it in New York or elsewhere.

The Jets have 36 players due for free agency next offseason. They’re working with a coaching staff that may well be fighting for their jobs. At the same time, 2020 is a bit of a consequence-free season from a team standpoint. It’s anything but a Super Bowl-or-bust campaign. Everyone outside of Foxboro has the Buffalo Bills pegged to usurp the AFC East throne. Matching last year’s win total of seven may be a reasonable goal. Anything else would be a pleasant surprise. But, in the grand scheme of things, it’s not exactly a tragedy if the Jets miss out on the postseason party this year.

Thus, it’s on the guys whose positions are relatively safe to get things rolling and opening the book of chance up. Fortune can be risked. Moves can be made. It’s all about the Jets of the present and future working on something new. It’s on them to play a brand of risky Jets football that probably hasn’t been seen in a while. When was the last time, for example, you heard of a Jets trick play? Deep balls have been far and few in between. It’s time for the team to take risks on a year of no consequence.

Rookie safety Ashtyn Davis knows all about that brand of football. The Cal-Berkeley alum’s days as a Golden Bear were defined by a sense of nothing to lose as a walk-on player who had track to fall back on if the football experiment didn’t work out. He went on to be a crucial part of the Berkeley defense and special teams, becoming a regular on the Pac-12’s leaderboards. He played his way into consideration for the Burlsworth Trophy (awarded to the most outstanding Football Bowl Subdivision player who began his career as a walk-on) and into a third-round selection in April’s NFL Draft.

Set to be a big part of the New York defensive efforts as it was, Davis has a huge opportunity ahead upon the departure of Jamal Adams. His healthy reckless abandon, a willingness to immediately play two parts of the game (Davis has worked as both a returner and a gunner) has drawn the attention of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who hopes that veterans emulate such an attitude.

“I love the fact that he had to walk on and he had to do everything he could to just get a scholarship and get some time at the college level to play,” Williams said, per Kristian Dyer of Sports Illustrated. “But he’s done very well with everything we’ve seen, he’s going to have to slow down mentally and that’s what happens when any young guy comes into our league and this league is not one of those things where you just do a couple of things and let him go.”

“I’m a fast guy and special teams is just defense in space so it’s a good opportunity to show that I can do the things I need to do on defense as well as making a contribution on the field,” Davis added. “I’m competitive so as long as I’m on the football field so when I’m out on the field, regardless of what it is, I like doing it.”

Veterans can likewise roll with the continuing change and the potential to take risks and roll through. Quarterbacks entering a “make-or-break” year appears to be a theme in the Adam Gase era…it felt like Ryan Tannehill went through a decade of them in Miami…but this isn’t the case for Sam Darnold.

As the Jets continue to search for an offensive identity, Darnold has a chance to establish himself as a true leader and franchise man. The Jets’ receiving corps continues to develop and work itself out, a process that might get even lengthier with both Breshad Perriman and Denzel Mims nursing injuries. But the potential of a bolstered offensive line gives him a good opportunity for a true breakout.

Considering the turnover Darnold has had to deal with in only two years as a New York starter (both the receiver corps and offensive line from Darnold’s rookie season are gone), it’s almost a miracle that he’s been able to flash his occasional brilliance under center. Stationed behind a group of blockers that has the most to lose on this squad, Darnold has a chance to develop chemistry and work on the personal issues that have prevented him from reaching his full potential, such as the deep ball. NFL Next Gen Stats had him ranked third-worst among starters in air yard distance (46.2).

“Continuing to work on deep-ball accuracy, is huge for me. (I) feel like I left some of those on the table last year,” Darnold said during the spring. “But with the weapons that we have now, we’re looking for good production from our wide receivers and running backs.”

Risks should even be on the table for those who have everything to lose. Marcus Maye has an opportunity to truly take over the New York defense. When he gets back on the field, Perriman has a chance to truly live up to his first-round potential and hit the reset button his career.

By no means, obviously, should this team even consider tanking or “trusting the process”. This isn’t the NBA, where a high draft pick proves more valuable than getting the 7th/8th seed. Seasons in the NFL are simply far too valuable to entertain that kind of thought.

But, as a team, healthy reckless abandon should be the name of the game. Not everyone is going to make it through this season of transition, one that will serve as an audition for many as the Jets try to prepare for potential glory days ahead. From a team standpoint, it’s time to take risks, make your own luck. If it wasn’t meant to be, it wasn’t meant to be. Who knows, the season could well play out the way many expect it to play out: another losing season and no playoff berth to show for it. If that’s the way it goes, at least work on the development. Risk and chance could well be the way to go.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

The Good and The Bad of New York Jets First Scrimmage

New York Jets, Nate Hairston

A number of things stood out to me from today’s first team scrimmage for the New York Jets, and for the most part they were not very good. So, let’s breakdown what went right and what went wrong for the Jets today.

The Good

Frank Gore

Gore reportedly looked “terrific” according to The Athletic’s Connor Hughes among others. Gore has been fantastic to this point according to Gase in terms of leadership impact and on the field performance. The ageless wonder continued to amaze and I’m excited to see him debut with the Green and White.

LaMical Perine

Sticking with the running backs, Perine was impressive today ripping off a 20 yard gain and then a 79-yard score. Perine was known for his breakaway speed at Florida and he flashed that today. The Jets know they have a unique blend of speed and size in that running back room and the perfect definition of that is Perine. I’m intrigued to see how he continues to grow from here as the season progress.

Mike White and James Morgan

The little known former 5th rounder was a practice squad fixture last season. Then this season, Gase said it’s been like two different quarterbacks. He’s thrown the ball very well in camp to this point and that reportedly continued today with another solid showing. Morgan also dominated the first-team defense which is impressive but also scary.

Ashtyn Davis

Davis continued his impressive camp with a pick-six today. Davis has been working side by side with the Jets defensive coaches in order to maximize his potential early on. It’s clear the organization has high hopes for him.

The Bad

Turnovers

The Jets first-team offense turned the ball over 3 times today against the second-team defense. That’s inexcusable and something that you’d expect earlier in camp, not two weeks away from the season. That’s an issue that needs to be worked on quickly.

First Team Defense Pressure

The Jets reportedly had no pressure in the backfield today. Presumably, Tarell Basham was set for the second pass rusher role, but with his injury, Jenkins will get targeted all the more. So, this makes pressure a difficult thing for the Jets to sustain right now. A move might need to be made for a pass rusher if Basham won’t be ready by week one.

Injuries

It seems like every day more injuries occur. Today, Lawerence Cager caught bad luck during his excellent camp with swelling emerging around his knee. That’s the latest receiver out and latest important piece. Then, new guard, Greg Van Roten got hurt as well. The Jets need to find ways to minimize injuries or this will be a long year.

Wide Receivers

I touched on the injury to Cager, but with Crowder and Hogan having a bad record with injuries and both fumbling during the scrimmage, it’s apparent the Jets need more insurance. Perriman and Mims will be back soon, but the Jets could use another vet to provide more insurance.

Lev Bell

Lev was pulled after just a few reps. It was reportedly to keep him loose, but he refuted those claims on Twitter immediately. He claimed that he needs reps to get going and the Jets were mismanaging him. All I can say is, welcome to Jets football. 

New York Jets sign Ashtyn Davis, complete rookie class signings

New York Jets, Ashtyn Davis

The New York Jets rounded out the signings of their freshman class by agreeing to terms with the Cal safety/return man.

The New York Jets have signed every member of their 2020 draft class, having confirmed the final inked contract on Thursday night. Cal-Berkeley safety Ashtyn Davis was the pick in question, but the team confirmed the official addition of April’s 68th overall pick.

“I think I can contribute anywhere they put me. I’m comfortable on the outside and inside, whatever the case may be,” Davis said in a statement on the team’s website. “After my first year of playing safety, I wanted to know every position and not just my responsibility. That way if someone went down they could put me in.”

Davis was indeed a man of many talents with the Golden Bears. Doubling as a hurdler on the track and field squad, Davis earned 166 tackles to go with seven interceptions on the gridiron. Davis also made a name for himself as a returner, averaging 22.9 yards on kickoffs. The 26.2 yards he averaged during the 2018 season were good for second in the Pac-12.

All-conference team honors awaited Davis in both his junior and senior campaigns, with first-team accolades coming in the former.

“Ashtyn brings speed, ball skills and versatility,” general manager Joe Douglas said in the same statement. “You can see him line up and cover a slot receiver and cover him in man coverage, you can see him line up as a high safety and range over to the sideline to make a play on the ball, you can see him attack the alleys in the run game, you can see him blitz.”

The pick used to draft Davis was obtained from the New York Giants in exchange for defensive lineman Leonard Williams. Davis was one of two third-round picks for the Jets, the other being Jabari Zuniga 11 picks later.

New York is set to open training camp on July 28 at Atlantic Health Jets Training Facility.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Does New York Jets’ rookie safety Ashtyn Davis make Marcus Maye expendable?

New York Jets, Ashtyn Davis

When the New York Jets drafted Ashtyn Davis in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft, most people didn’t know much about him. Davis is a blazing fast safety who left his mark at Cal, Playing in 11 games as a senior last season, tallying 55 total tackles, two interceptions, four passes defended, and two forced fumbles.

I believe Davis has the ability to adapt to a free safety position, but I don’t think he is capable of being a single high-style safety. He has the mobility and excellent speed, but his anticipation and ability to diagnose plays can be delayed.

Nonetheless, he has the tangible traits to continue developing into a quality player, possibly supplanting Marcus Maye at the position.

Jim McGill of bearinsider.com told New York Jets.com:

“Ashtyn has a unique blend of speed and power and strength and athleticism that you just love to see in a defensive back,” McGill told newyorkjets.com‘s Olivia Landis. “He’s long at 6’1″, he’s got good size at 200 pounds. And to be able to move that quickly at that size is a huge benefit for a safety.”

“Ashtyn’s a really unique guy. His back story growing up in Santa Cruz [CA], he had a lot of challenges he had to deal with and he’s always been a very focused invididual,” McGill said. “He’s just a guy that works really hard. … He had a lot of support throughout his collegeiate career and he’s taken that work ethic to the next level. Jets fans, I think, will see a guy who’s going to outwork virtually anybody on that roster.”

Aside from his physical abilities, Davis is a hard-working player that’s been around the block. He will bring tenacity and confidence to the Jets’ secondary, and his competitive nature will allow him to compete for a potential starting gig down the line.
The factors I love most about Davis is his motor and fearlessness dropping into the box and playing against the run. While his size might not indicate he can play a strong safety position, he might be better suited in two high-safety looks and moving up closer to the line of scrimmage. His tackling technique is solid and is incredibly tough, which says to me that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will likely aggressively utilize him.
With that being said, I don’t believe he will steal Maye’s position, simply because he doesn’t have the ball skills and coverage ability compared to the fourth-year player. Nonetheless, they can both earn starting reps and influence the team in a positive way.

Jets News: Jamal Adams is inevitably pushing Marcus Maye out of New York

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

Taking a look at how New York Jets’ Jamal Adams could spell the end for Marcus Maye in green and white:

The Jets drafted both Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye three years ago, and both have played influential roles on defense. Adams has been the better of the pair by a fair margin, but Maye has left his mark as well.

Ultimately, the Jets are going to have to pay both of them eventually, and with Adams demanding an extension now, it could force Gang Green to trade away Maye for draft capital. According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets have had discussions involving Maye, who has posted sound production of the past three seasons. At just 27 years old, Maye has logged 178 tackles, four interceptions, 11 past breakups, and two forced fumbles.

Ultimately, general manager Joe Douglas has no intention of dealing with Adams’s contract immediately, allowing him to sit and skip out on voluntary virtual workouts. However, the safety knows his value and is willing to stay away from the team until he receives a new deal.

In 2019, Adams played in 14 games, posting 75 combine tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback heads, and 6.5 sacks. His production was impressive and likely garners the attention he is demanding from Douglas. He’s only missed two games in his career, which attest to his overall health.

Essentially, the Jets are going to need to deal with Adams sooner or later, and his desire to be treated like a star will likely push me out of New York. The NFL is undoubtedly a business, and Adams is showing that the players have the leverage too.

If Maye is evidently traded, the Jets did draft a safety in the fourth round. Ashytn Davis out of Cal was their selection, and he has the tangible traits to develop into a starter. Davis is a speedy free safety who can cover ground well, but he’s a bit raw in some areas. Expect him to play a bit of special teams in 2020 and potentially earn a larger role in the secondary.

 

What does New York Jets’ rookie Ashtyn Davis bring to the defense?

New York Jets, Ashtyn Davis

The New York Jets selected a defensive back in the third round to the initial dismay of the fan base. The Jets faithful either wanted another receiver, an edge rusher, or a corner. Ashtyn Davis was listed as many as a safety, but that’s in the same way some listed Isaiah Simmons as a safety and some as a linebacker. Versatility is key, and that’s what Ashtyn Davis brings to the table.

Who Is Ashtyn Davis?

Ashtyn Davis began playing football in Santa Cruz, California, as a wide receiver. Davis has incredible athleticism, and he put that on display outside of the game. Davis was an electric hurdler for Cal and began in high school. He was a champion in 110-meter hurdles. On the field, his athleticism is one of his greatest assets.

Davis tracks balls like a center fielder. He’s got phenomenal sideline to sideline ability. He’s dynamic in the return game and on special teams as a whole. He’s a solid cover safety or potentially corner and a fun weapon for Gregg Williams. His athleticism allows him to be versatile. Wherever he can make an impact, he will. Davis has all the makings to be a great defensive back in this league.

How does he fit?

Heading into his rookie year, Davis doesn’t have a clear cut role. What’s more likely is he will be used in a multitude of ways. He can be trusted to come in wherever and make an impact. Davis will immediately be trusted to take over Rontez Miles’ role on special teams and as a backup safety. In the long haul, a good performance in 2020 could make him a franchise building block.

With Marcus Maye’s contract up along with Jamal’s in 2021, the Jets can’t afford both. Adams is the priority, but the Jets can’t tie up all that money to one spot. Despite being Jamal Adams’ running mate, Marcus Maye could still find his way out. Ashtyn Davis could be groomed to fill his shoes. With his incredible physical abilities and impressive on-field play, if Ashtyn Davis takes advantage of his opportunity, he could be an excellent pick for Joe Douglas.

NFL Draft: New York Jets select Cal S Ashtyn Davis with 68th overall pick

New York Jets, Ashtyn Davis

With their pick obtained from the Leonard Williams trade, the New York Jets selected Cal-Berkeley safety Ashtyn Davis.

With the 68th overall selection of the 2020 NFL Draft, the New York Jets took Cal-Berkeley safety Ashtyn Davis. The Jets earned this pick through a trade with their MetLife Stadium co-tenants, the New York Giants.

Davis totaled 166 tackles and seven interceptions during his four years with the Golden Bears. He also worked as the Golden Bears’ kick returner for two seasons, finishing second in the Pac-12 in return yardage in each of those campaigns (2017, 2018). New York finished 22nd in kick return average last season after 2018 Pro Bowler Andre Roberts departed for Buffalo.

The Cal product is the first safety the Jets have taken in the NFL Draft since they went with current starting pair Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye over the first two rounds of 2017. Davis’ predecessor in terms of Golden Bears chosen by the Jets is another 2017 pick, fourth-round receiver Chad Hansen.

The Jets also hold the 79th and 101st selections to cap off their Friday night proceedings, barring any trades.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags