The New York Jets have begun to address their medically-induced defensive woes through the signing of former Giants starter B.J. Goodson.
B.J. Goodson is reportedly back in the New York groove, albeit in new colors.
The former New York Giants draft pick is coming back to the metropolitan area as one of four additions to the New York Jets’ active roster. Gang Green has picked up Goodson and punter Thomas Morestead from the free agency market while blocker Isaiah Williams and safety Jarrod Wilson were called up from the practice squad. These moves are in conjunction with the placement of Mekhi Becton, Blake Cashman, Lamarcus Joyner, and Braden Mann onto the injured reserve list.
Goodson originally donned blue in New York as a fourth-round pick out of Clemson in 2016. He spent three seasons with the Giants before spent the past two campaigns in Green Bay and Cleveland. The linebacker played a sizable role in the Browns’ playoff push last year, leading the team with 91 tackles and two interceptions. Per Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Goodson’s one-year deal is worth $2.1 million.
In addition to Cashman, the Jets are also missing offseason arrival Jarrad Davis, who is not expected to play prior to the Jets’ bye in Week 6. Head coach Robert Saleh also said that another linebacker, rookie Jamien Sherwood (sprained ankle), will miss the next two weeks.
Morestead, a 2012 Pro Bowler, joins the Jets after 12 seasons in New Orleans. He’ll relieve Mann for at least the next four weeks after the 2020 draft pick suffered a knee injury on his second Sunday kick in Carolina. Placekicker Matt Ammendola took over for the remainder of the game before Morestead’s arrivals.
Williams will provide depth on the offensive line George Fant relieves Becton on the blindside and Morgan Moses takes over Fant’s regular duties on the right. The Akron alum has yet to appear in a regular season NFL game but joined the Jets’ practice squad after appearing in their preseason finale against Philadelphia. He had spent time on either a practice squad or training camp in seven different NFL locales and earned professional starting experience with the Alliance of American Football’s Atlanta Legends and the XFL’s Tampa Bay Vipers.
Wilson arrives as reinforcement to the Jets’ secondary after injuries to Joyner and Ashtyn Davis left Marcus Maye and newcomers Sheldrick Redwine and Adrian Colbert as the only healthy safeties on the roster. Formerly of Jacksonville, Wilson has seen action in 75 games since entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan in 2016. Sunday starter Lamarcus Joyner (torn triceps) is out for the season.
In addition to the moves on the active roster, the Jets restocked their practice squad with the additions of blocker Elijah Nkansah and linebacker Noah Dawkins. The latter returns to the Jets after appearing in five games with the team last season.
The Jets (0-1) return to action on Sunday afternoon in their home opener against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
The New York Jets’ injury report resembles the top of its depth chart. What can they do to hold down the fort in the early going?
There are growing pains, and then there’s what Robert Saleh has had to deal with within his first 24 hours of being a ledgered head coach of the New York Jets.
In his comments from the aftermath of a 19-14 defeat at the hands of the Carolina Panthers, Saleh’s injury updates resembled the unveiling of the Jets’ starting lineup seen shortly after kickoff during Sunday broadcasts. The headliner is offensive tackle and 2020 first-round pick Mekhi Becton, who’s out for at least four weeks after dislocating his kneecap on the Jets’ first scoring play of the afternoon.
For Saleh, adaptation after intervention from the football gods is nothing new. He had to work through several medically-induced absences during his final year as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator last season, posting respectable results after losing Nick Bosa, Solomon Thomas, K’Wuan Williams, and Richard Sherman, among others, to injuries. He hinted that help from abroad may be on the horizon.
“There’s going to be talks, obviously,” Saleh said per notes from the Jets. “(General manager Joe Douglas) and his staff getting together and gathering names, but there are going to have to be some additions.”
The Jets have four games left prior to their Week 6 sabbatical, starting with Sunday’s home opener against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS). ESM looks at each affected area and ponders the Jets’ next moves…
Of Saleh’s subtractions, none may be more glaring that than the loss of Becton, the Jets’ anchor of the offensive line and their top pick from the 2020 draft. The Jets’ Sunday protection looked scary enough with Becton there: Zach Wilson was sacked six times and Jets rushers put up less than three yards a carry.
Saleh claimed that Becton’s departure may not be a death blow in part due to his limited prep time going into the 2021 season: injuries limited the Louisville alum to two practices in the “two or three weeks” leading up to game day in Carolina. Saleh confirmed that George Fant will assume Becton’s duties on the blindside while Morgan Moses will fill in for Fant on the right, as was the case on Sunday afternoon in Carolina. Becton is not expected to undergo surgery, but that could change if a second opinion recommends such a measure.
The Jets’ blocking depth took a hit before the season started: Connor McDermott and Becton’s fellow 2020 selection Cameron Clark linger on injured reserve and won’t be eligible to come back until Week 4. Jimmy Murray, Isaiah Williams, and undrafted rookie Grant Hermanns were part of the Jets’ final cuts from training camp but were retained on the practice squad. A promotion or two may be in the cards.
But simple promotions haven’t been the Douglas way: in making up for the blocking negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era, Douglas has left no stone unturned, no matter how seasoned that stone may be. His first moves upon taking office were to trade for Alex Lewis from Baltimore and convince Ryan Kalil to postpone his retirement. The trend continued this offseason when the team added Moses in the latter stages of the pre-training camp slate.
Not everything has worked out, but that’s probably not going to deter the proactive Douglas. Most available names have shown a preference for the right, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Douglas nonetheless inquire. Asking for a name like Russell Okung might be a stretch, but the team could possibly take a waiver on someone like veteran Ricky Wagner or Chaz Green. An intriguing journeyman to watch could be Corbin Kaufusi, a former metropolitan practice squad rep (2019-20) whose time at BYU overlapped with Zach Wilson’s by a year (2018).
A rare sign of good medical news in the linebacking corps…that in the fact that C.J. Mosley was finally able to complete a game for the first time in his Jets career…was immediately offset by further calamities. Blake Cashman has return to the injury report with a hamstring issue while Jamien Sherwood sprained his ankle in his NFL debut. Each is expected to miss two weeks.
New York was already missing one potentially sizable contributor in Jarrad Davis, who was lost in the preseason visit to Green Bay. Del’Shawn Phillips filled in serviceably on Sunday, earning a team-best dozen tackles in defeat. Formerly of Buffalo, Phillips should remain on the active roster after his recent promotion from the practice squad.
The signing of Quincy Williams after cuts toward the original 53-man rosters feel particularly timely. He was inactive for Sunday’s game but he should be ready for the home opener. The older brother of Quinnen, the Jets renowned third-year defender, has starting experience from his two seasons in Jacksonville but, perhaps more importantly, has a long-term NFL case to prove.
“We care about winning football games. That’s all that matters to us. He is not just Q’s brother. We want to win,” Quinnen said, per team reporter Jack Bell. “Whether he’s my brother or not, we play football games to win, not to lose. He needs to come in and put (his) best foot forward every day, and we need to hold each other accountable.”
Despite the emergence of Phillips and the potential arrival of the elder Williams, the Jets will likely look to practice squads and free agency for assistance. Several former Jets linger on the latter front, including Avery Williamson and James Burgess.
Enough has been written about the Jets’ problems and lack of experience at cornerback, but the makeshift group held its own on Sunday. Bryce Hall, Brandin Echols, Michael Carter II, and Javelin Guidry united to allow only 77 yards and four first downs.
The true issues lied at safety, where some inopportune deep balls led to the Jets’ demise. Lamarcus Joyner was forced to leave the game early with an elbow issue, which Saleh as since diagnosed as torn tendons that will keep him out for remainder of the season. Sheldrick Redwine, a final cut from Cleveland, took over in Joyner’s wake. Alas, his lasting mark from Sunday’s game was getting victimized by the long scoring hook-up between Sam Darnold and Robby Anderson that helped Carolina break the game open.
Joyner was already standing in for Ashtyn Davis, who’s stuck on injured reserve (along with another safety, Sharrod Neasman). Neither will be back until Week 4. It’s thus inevitable that the Jets will seek further assistance elsewhere. Adrian Colbert, another recent practice squad promotee, is likely on board to stay.
The Jets will be without sophomore punter Braden Mann for 4-6 weeks, suffering a knee injury on his second attempt of the day. Mann made several trips in and out of the medical tent and was later seen pacing the sidelines in a knee brace on his left leg. According to Saleh, Mann’s situation is not expected to require surgery.
One almost wouldn’t blame the Jets if they stood pat at punter: Matt Ammendola stepped in and wound up amongst the league’s Week 1 leaders. The 65-yard boot on his second attempt was the best individual effort amongst Sunday competitors. But there’s no use in wearing down Ammendola, especially with kicker being such a vital role for an offense in transition. Saleh declared that the Jets will work out several legs.
It’s a surprisingly opportune time to be searching for a punter from a Jets standpoint, as several veteran names linger on the open market. Thomas Morestead is a former Pro Bowler from New Orleans while two entries from the Colquitt punting dynasty (Britton and Dustin) are also available. Chris Jones recently wrapped a decade-long stretch as Dallas’ fourth-down man. The Jets probably aren’t looking for a long-term solution here, as they have a little something invested in the sophomore Mann, a sixth-round choice from 2020.
A New York Jets kicking competition is set to commence under the watch of the seemingly immortal coordinator Brant Boyer.
Following the conclusion of minicamp activities, the NFL offseason is officially over. The next time the New York Jets convene in Florham Park, they’ll be getting ready for preseason and regular season action for the 2021 campaign.
With the offseason in the rearview mirror, ESM looks back on the green offseason that was, position-by-position. Our look back on the offseason comes to an end by wrapping up with special teams…
Much has been made about the constant turnover in the Jets’ franchise quarterback role. But compared to what’s happened in the kicker’s role, that role is among the stable in football.
Since Jason Myers’ historic 2018 campaign…and after the Jets let him abscond to Seattle without much resistance…six different kickers (three alone during the 2019 preseason) have tried and failed to pick up where he left off. Lacking a reliable kicker for two straight seasons is always unacceptable, but missing one during a would-be franchise quarterback developmental years is gridiron doomsday.
Sam Ficken, to his credit, was refreshingly close to ending the trend. His three-point attempts were the one thing that was going right for the Jets over the opening portions of their 2020 season, converting each of his first nine attempts (five alone coming in a nationally televised showdown against Denver). But a groin injury suffered in October derailed his season, forcing the Jets to turn to CFL/XFL veteran Sergio Castillo before staging a meaningless finale with Chase McLaughlin.
Sixth-round pick Braden Mann was one of the busiest men in football last season. He was called upon to punt it away a league-high 82 times, but his 43.9 average was 28th in football. While the Jets would like to see him move up the stat ledger (though, ideally, he won’t be on the field as often this season), Mann did manage to go somewhat viral for some touchdown saving tackles.
In the return game, receiver Braxton Berrios has been reliable on punts. Over the last two seasons, Berrios is one of six returners (min. 30 attempts) to average at least 10 yards (fifth-best at 10.5). On kicks, Giants draft pick and cornerback Corey Ballentine was a pleasant surprise as a late arrival, averaging over 26 yards per return over the last six weeks.
Long snapper Thomas Hennessy lived up to the four-year extension he earned in the midst of the 2019 season and completed another incident-free season.
How It’s Going
Never mind cockroaches; when the apocalypse comes, Brant Boyer might be the last living thing to stick it out. The special teams coordinator was the sole survivor of the post-Adam Gase coaching purge, having also survived the erasure of Todd Bowles’ army.
“So many people called on his his behalf,” head coach Robert Saleh said of Boyer in January, per team reporter Ethan Greenberg. “He’s held in such high regard.”
The Jets spent this offseason delivering Boyer some welcome back gifts. He was particularly excited about the arrival of cornerback Justin Hardee, who became one of the NFL’s most respected gunners in New Orleans. Hardee was added on a three year deal and will certainly help a punt return unit that allowed over 11 yards a return last season, the sixth-worst mark in the league. In comparison, Hardee’s Saints allowed less than three.
“I was ecstatic on that one,” Boyer said in video from the Jets. “We played 13 different gunners last year, so it was a real struggle.” Boyer was also pleased about the leadership role Hardee took in the specialists’ room. “He’s been fantastic, and what he’s done is he’s taken over a leadership role in the room, and that’s what the biggest thing we needed in our room especially losing a bunch of our core guys and things like that.”
“We just need somebody to emerge at that other gunner, so they can’t double (Hardee) every time…we’ll see what happens, which I fully expect someone will do.”
The answer to Boyer’s quandary could lie within the latter rounds of the draft. Defensive project and sixth round pick Hamsah Nasirildeen was an elite gunner during his freshman year at Florida State (seven tackles in special teams coverage) while Brandin Echols served in specialist duties during his JUCO days.
In the return game, Berrios should be retained on punts, while Ballentine could face competition on kickoffs from running backs Michael Carter (24.5 average in his junior year at North Carolina) and Ty Johnson (27.2 in his senior year at Maryland).
Ficken was waived in December but was retained on a future deal. He’ll face competition from undrafted rookie Chris Naggar (AAC Special Teams Player of the Year at Southern Methodist) to retain his role.
Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Are They Better Off?
As the Jets try to return to relevancy, they can’t overlook their special teams group. They’re preparing to embark on yet another quarterback development adventure with Zach Wilson as the lead protagonist and special teams can make an immediate difference in terms of helping him earn wins and losses.
When the new quarterback reaches opposing territory, a reliable kicker can ensure such drives end with points, building his confidence. If Mann takes a step forward and Hardee lives up to his sterling gunner reputation, the opponent can start in dire straits, and make the defense’s job a lot easier.
Much like his work on the offensive line, it’s good to see that general manager Joe Douglas is willing to valuable offseason capital on special teams, though it’s time for the arrivals to start rewarding his faith on the field. Adding elite, proven names in the arena like Hardee and Carter losses the pressure.
Final Offseason Grade: B-
How do you think the Jets’ special teams contribute to their resurgence? Follow Geoff Magliocchetti on Twitter @GeoffJMags and keep the conversation going.
The New York Jets have been staples of the Islanders’ postseason tour on Long Island. Perhaps they can learn a thing or two along the way.
In following the New York Islanders’ run to the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Jets have traded in green and white for blue and orange. They’ve engaged in (Bud) light debauchery and have gone viral in the process as the Islanders are halfway through their quest for a fifth Stanley Cup hoist.
The next step of the journey begins on Sunday afternoon when the Islanders battle the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena (3 p.m. ET, NBC). Nassau Coliseum will host the third, fourth, and (if necessary) sixth games of the series, and it’s very likely that members of the Jets will attempt to take their usual seats for those contests.
Is it possible that, in their fun, they might actually learn a thing or two along the way?
Class is in session, courtesy of ESM…
Have Depth Stars
On Long Island: Save for Mathew Barzal (appearances in the last two exhibitions), the Islanders are not a team of perennial All-Stars. John Tavares’ absconding for Toronto was supposed to be their downfall, but they’ve responded with playoff series victories in three consecutive seasons while the Maple Leafs have been relegated to opening round exits.
The Islanders are a team that has gotten by with a group of gritty, skilled players whose union has worked wonders. Nothing showcases their depth and consistency better than the grouping of Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, and Matt Martin, a trio of bottom-six forward staples since 2014. Nicknamed the “Identity Line”, NYI head coach Barry Trotz says that the group sets the tone for what they’re trying to accomplish on the ice.
“They give you impact. When they are playing the right way, they give you a little of that bite that you want,” Trotz said after a dominant January 2019 over Tampa, per Cory Wright of NewYorkIslanders.com. “They give you sort of that determination and speed on the puck and sort of an Islander identity. If there’s a line that’s sort of an identity line, well that’s the best way to describe them better than a fourth line because they give us an identity.”
In Florham Park: The Jets tried to go the big-spending route over the last few seasons, but marquee signings have not panned out. Right now, they’re actively paying Le’Veon Bell and Trumaine Johnson to keep their distance, for example.
Blessed with one of the highest offseason budgets in the NFL, it would’ve been easy for the Jets to fall to temptation and spend big money on a blockbuster talent (i.e. J.J. Watt). But once it became clear that the big names wanted to move on to contenders, the Jets bolstered their depth so more parts of the depth chart provide production and security.
This offseason has still seen some big contracts bestowed…Carl Lawson and Corey Davis are a combined $26 million cap hit…but many others signings have been about providing depth. They’re not the flashiest arrivals by any stretch, not the type of names that one can put on a parking lot light pole’s banner, but they’re the type of depth options the Jets needed at this point in time.
Jarrad Davis is a redemption-seeking first-round pick whose success in the 4-3 sets of the Florida Gators could come up big. At receiver, Davis is one of several names with the potential to become a No. 1 target. Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder return from last year’s team, while Elijah Moore was drafted in the second round. Uncertainty lingers at tight end and in the secondary, but the Jets’ thriftiness could pay big dividends, as undrafted free agents Kenny Yeboah and Isaiah Dunn could come up big.
Make Sure Special Teams are Special
On Long Island: Since Trotz took over in 2018, the Islanders have improved by leaps and bounds in almost every major statistical category with the exception of their power play. New York ranked 20th in the final regulars season rankings with a man advantage, though they were the only team in the NHL that did not allow any shorthanded goals.
The Islanders, however, rose to the occasion on the penalty kill, coming home sixth in the category over the regular season. Doing it in the postseason has been a work in progress…they’ve killed off only 61.5 percent of their infractions…but the power play came to life in spectacular fashion in Monday’s Game 5 showdown in Boston. Facing a Bruins squad that led the league with an 86 percent kill rate during the regular season, the Islanders scored three power play goals that forever changed the course of the series. Barzal scored on a chance in the first period, while Kyle Palmieri and Jordan Eberle earned extra-man tallies in the second.
The power play success not only provided the difference in the goal category but more or less shifted the entire course of the game. Taking advantage of the opportunities allowed the Islanders to not only withstand a late Boston rush, but they were able to earn a momentum-shifting victory on a night where they were outshot 44-19.
In Florham Park: There’s major hope for the Jets entering the 2021 season, even if reaching the playoff is still a tall task for the time being. But there’s no doubt that they’re still developing, still a work in progress, particularly on an offensive end that’s debuting a new quarterback and receiving corps. Thus, special teams must be addressed.
Confidence for a developing offense can be built by getting points on as many drives that end in opposing territory as possible. That comes through reliable field goal kicking, an area where the Jets have fallen woefully short since Jason Myers left for Seattle. Chris Naggar has been brought in to compete with incumbent Sam Ficken for that role. General manager Joe Douglas has shown that he’s not afraid to use valuable assets to address special teams. He used the last pick of his first draft to pick up punter Braden Mann and has tried to fill in the Jets’ Andre Roberts-sized void at returned through additions in the 2021 draft (i.e. Michael Carter).
Perhaps the most telling sign of Jets management’s willingness to bolster the special unit came through the retaining of coordinator Brant Boyer, who has now survived the purges of both Todd Bowles and Adam Gase’s doomed staffs.
It All Starts at the Head
On Long Island: Again, no one expected the Islanders to be in his position three years ago. This, after all, was a team that just lost the face of its franchise, perhaps the one thing it had going for it since the immortal early 1980s.
The hire of Trotz in 2018, however, may go down as one of the most fateful moves in franchise history.
Trotz had already developed a reputation as a strong nurterer of young talent and helping woebegone franchises find their path. He put the Nashville Predators on the NHL map as the franchise’s original head coach (serving 16 seasons at the helm after their 1998 inception). He then moved on to Washington, where he helped the Capitals removed the playoff monkey from their backs. Only under Trotz has Alex Ovechkin been able to reach hockey Nirvana in the Stanley Cup Final.
Once Trotz was voted out of Capitol Hill due to a contract dispute, the Islanders pounced and have been reaping in the benefits ever since. Under Trotz, the Islanders have won playoff rounds in three consecutive seasons for the first time since their quartet of Cup hoists (1980-83). Trotz’s status as a players’ coach that is nonetheless willing to hold his guys accountable has been a delightful contrast to the recent slew of also-rans. Doug Weight’s animated style, for example, was refreshing when he first took the reins but it quickly ran its course.
Trotz credits his success to looking at his status as a head coach as not a position of superiority, but one that leads to a partnership with his players.
“I look at coaching, my time, as I’m in a partnership with the players,” Trotz told Mollie Walker of the New York Post in March. “We’re in a partnership to win hockey games. The other partnership is to make you the best version of yourself, whatever that version is.”
In Florham Park: There’s no doubt that, despite the nine-win ledger, that the Jets had some talent on their roster over the last two seasons, better known as the Adam Gase era. Look no further than the names the Jets gave up on before him: Robby Anderson, Avery Williamson, Le’Veon Bell, and Steve McLendon accounted for only part of the list. But help has arrived in the form of Robert Saleh, whose hiring has been universally praised.
The difference between the arrivals of Saleh and Gase are best contrasted by player reaction to the news. While Gase’s landing was met with mostly indifference…and whatever honeymoon there was quickly ended when he won a power struggle against Mike Maccagnan…Saleh’s arrival has been praised by players both domestically and abroad. It’s created an energy field in Florham Park not seen since, arguably, the Rex Ryan days.
“You have to give him an unusual amount of credit, and I don’t think he’s getting enough credit not only here but in the league, in general,” former Saleh pupil Richard Sherman said of his potential as a head coach in December, per the Associated Press. “He’s able to rally men. He’s a leader of men and that goes a long way.”
As the Gase era showcased all too well, talent means nothing when the right man isn’t in charge. Though vital downs have yet to be played, it’s safe to say the Jets feel that they have found the perfect curator and developer in Saleh.
ESM’s New York Jets offseason preview concludes by analyzing the special teams, which welcomes back overseer Brant Boyer.
The Position: Special Teams On the Roster: P Braden Mann, LS Tom Hennessy, K Chase McLaughlin Free Agents: N/A Reserve/Future: K Sam Ficken
As the New York Jets have abandoned their coaching ship twice over the past three years, Brant Boyer has proven unsinkable.
The Jets’ special teams coordinator is about to embark on a journey with his third coaching group, having survived the respective purgings of Todd Bowles and Adam Gase’s staffs. Boyer has overseen the development of Pro Bowlers (sending two, Jason Myers and Andre Roberts, in 2018) and has often been floated by fans as an interim boss once they get tired of the regular man in change.
“So many people have called on his behalf.” head coach Robert Saleh said of Boyer’, per notes provided by the Jets. “He’s held in such high regard.” Saleh eventually made the decision to retain Boyer to his new staff, a rare holdover from Gase’s group.
The retainment comes at a time where strong special teams are more vital than ever. New York is desperate for offensive traction but must work with what it can in these trying times. Whether it’s pinning an opponent deep when a driver sputters out or making the most of a drive that reaches fourth down in enemy territory via a field goal, the Jets need to make sure their special teams are ready to go.
While one area seems to be settled…rookie Braden Mann earned positive reviews at punter, and gained a cult following for his propensity to make touchdown-saving tackles…the Jets have been looking for a solution at kicker ever since Myers shipped off to Seattle. Including preseason contests, six different kickers have filled the role since the 2019 season began. There was three alone last season, as injuries and inconsistency forced Sam Ficken from the post. The Jets got by with Sergio Castillo and Chase McLaughlin for the remainder of the year.
Also back for another year is long snapper Thomas Hennessy, who has spent the last four years in the role incident-free. Receiver Braxton Berrios had primary punt return duties, while former Giants defensive draft pick Corey Ballentine later took over affairs on the kickoff.
Will They Draft?
After using their final choice of Mann last season, it’s definitely possible the Jets could use one of their day three picks on another leg, this one of the more offensive type. Last season was a bit of a struggle for the top prospect Evan McPherson, but other options arose through Miami’s Jose Borregales (18-of-20, long of 57) and Riley Patterson of Memphis, who struggled as a senior but posted sellar numbers the year prior.
Younghoe Koo, Atlanta
Born in South Korea and raised in Ridgewood, NJ, Koo has been one of the more inspiring stories in recent NFL history. He memorably executed three successful onside kicks during a Thanksgiving 2019 tilt in New Orleans and led the NFL with 37 made field goals last season (on 39 attempts). Koo was also the NFL’s leading scorer at 144 points, tied with fellow kickers Daniel Carlson of Las Vegas and Jason Sanders in Miami.
Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay
Mr. Irrevelant was anything but for the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers this season. The final pick of the 2009 NFL Draft recovered very well after knee surgery, tying a career-best best with 136 points and converting all nine of his postseason triple attempts en route to the Big Game.
Jamal Agnew, Detroit
If the Jets are looking to spice up their return game, or at least create some competition, they can turn to Agnew, who has likewise played offense and defense during his time with the Lions. Agnew would have to work on his ball control, but double-digit averages on both kicks and punts are nothing to scoff at.
For the third straight year, the Jets are going to spend the offseason looking for a new kicker. It’s possible that endeavor can be solved in the spring by signing someone like Koo or Succop, or create competition with the draft. Either way, that situation must be resolved sooner rather than later. With punter and long snapper accounted for,
The New York Jets punter has received some flack from fans after a crucial tackle helped them earn an unappreciated victory.
If anyone on the New York Jets has earned his paycheck this season, it has probably been punter Braden Mann.
The New York rookie, chosen out of Texas A&M in the sixth round of April’s draft, has been called upon to punt on 70 occasions, most in the NFL. He has had a solid showing, averaging just over 45 yards a boot and seeing 13 of his kicks land inside the opponents’ 20-yard-line. Mann has also been willing to sacrifice his body to save a touchdown, earning four tackles this season. That tally is good for best amongst NFL punters this season with Riley Dixon and Mitchell Wishnowsky.
But none of those takedowns might’ve been as impactful as the one Mann had last Sunday in Los Angeles.
Mann wasn’t as busy as he normally has been this season, called upon only five times in the battle against the Rams. His services were required in the latter stages of the second half, with the Jets clinging on to a lead that evaporated from three possessions to one, the margin sitting at 23-20 with under six minutes to go.
Mann’s 50-yard kick landed in the arms of Rams returner Nsimba Webster, who broke through the Jets’ coverage squad and made it past midfield before Mann took him down at the New York 43. The tackle proved fateful, as the Jets’ defense forced Los Angeles into a turnover on downs, allowing the offense to run out the clock and pick up their first victory of this cursed season.
But many Jets fans weren’t appreciative of Mann’s efforts. The Jets (1-13) may have won the game, but some see them as losing the metaphorical war…the endeavor for Trevor Lawrence, to be precise. Both the Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars are assured of choosing either first or second come April’s selections. But, with a weaker strength of schedule, the Jaguars have the inside track at the top pick, one that many foresee being used on the champion thrower from Clemson.
Mann admitted that some Jets fans had sent him toxic messages on social media. But, with the help of his energized teammates, he’s more than happy to get over it.
“I got a few (bad) messages like that,” the former Ray Guy Award winner told Rich Cimini of ESPN. “But whoever says something like that, I don’t think they ever tried to compete at something like this. For us, we get paid to play. We get paid to win.”
Mann’s defensive heroics set off a strong celebration amongst the Jets, whose antics rivaled a championship celebration, per head coach Adam Gase. They were particularly enthused by Mann’s big hit, jumping up and down and surrounding the temporary defender prior to making their final defensive stand.
“We joke with the defensive guys that if we need to learn how to tackle, we’ll just bring him over to the (special teams) side,” Gase said in Cimini’s report. “If we have a couple missed tackles, we give them some crap about it.”
“The kid is getting better and better every week,” special teams coordinator Brant Boyer said of Mann, according to Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “His locations/hang times and ability to control returners get better and better every week. The sky is the limit for him. He is a worker, a great kid and a pleasure to coach. I would have him on my team any day of the week.”
The Jets will play their final home game of the 2020 season on Sunday, battling the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Happy Thanksgiving, Jets fans! Unfortunately (maybe fortunately for our appetites) the Jets do not play today. At 0-10, the Jets are in the midst of one of their worst starts in franchise history.
Here are four New York Jets players to be thankful for:
Mekhi Becton LT
Mekhi Becton has been the biggest bright spot for the Jets this season. The eleventh overall pick has broken out immediately and asserted himself as one of the top tackles in the league.
Becton is already leading the Pro Bowl votes for offensive tackles. Becton has been an absolute force this season with a PFF grade of 73.9 and easy handling of premier pass rushers like Joey and Nick Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Frank Clark, among others. Becton has emerged as a franchise left tackle throughout this season, and he provides a huge (literally) building block for the future. The Jets struck gold on Mt. Becton.
Braden Mann P
Braden Mann being selected was viewed by some as a curious pick in the 6th round when the Jets had such a need at receiver. However, the former college star has been a breakout piece. Now, purely off stats, Mann has a 44.8 average in terms of a yard per punt, which only ranks 19th in the league, but his sample size is the largest in the league at 50, which is an excessive amount for punters. With a floundering offense, Mann gets a lot of work, and the fact that as a rookie, he already is in the pro bowl consideration and being a consistent punter is very impressive. Special teams do matter, and the future for the Jets groups is all the brighter with Braden in it.
Denzel Mims WR
Denzel Mims was out for the first 6 games this season, despite that, he has broken out in a big way. Mims currently sits at 13 receptions for 217 yards, with an average of 16.7 yards per reception. He has averaged around 54.3 yards per game and been a consistent producer for the Jets with their QB issues. Mims has made some really spectacular catches, though, that have really opened eyes. His beautiful sideline catch against the Chargers Sunday was just another example of his phenomenal hands. What the Jets offense needs to do is maximize his catch radius and start throwing him more targets in the red zone. Despite missing time, Mims figures to still put up above-average numbers this season, and he figures to be a great piece for the future.
Quinnen Williams DT
Arguably the biggest breakout star of the Jets season is the former third overall pick, Quinnen Williams. Last season Williams had 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 TFLs, 6 QB Hits, and a FR. This season, in only 10 games, Williams has 34 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 7 TFLs, 7 QB Hits, and a FF. Williams has already exceeded his rookie campaign in only nine games that he has played in this season. Williams still has six games to continue to build onto his breakout season. Williams has displayed a real visible growth in his play as well. Last season he seemed a lot weaker and less developed. He still has a long way to go, but he has looked much quicker and more refined this season, and that is a huge thing to be thankful for in the trenches in the future.
At 0-4 and both the head coach and franchise quarterback on the hot seat, the New York Jets have little to celebrate, but not all is dreary.
Autumn in New York, as Billie Holiday originally sang, is “often mingled with pain”. That appears to be the case in New Jersey as well, at least on the gridiron.
We’re a quarter of the way through the 2020 NFL season, and the New York Jets sit at 0-4 at the quarter mark. As lifeless as the Jets have looked…the fact that their average margin of defeat is “only” 14 points might count as a proverbial win…things might get progressively worse. In addition to a Sunday matchup against the Arizona Cardinals (1 p.m. ET, Fox), the next few weeks feature get-togethers against upstart teams (LA Chargers), playoff contenders (Buffalo, New England), and even the defending, red-hot Super Bowl champions (Kansas City).
Yet, if one looks closely at the 2020 Jets…and you could hardly be blamed for keeping your (social) distance…they can glean some specific positives that should have fans excited for the rest of this season…and potentially beyond.
It feels like ten different networks broadcast the NFL Draft these days…Disney XD simulcasted the most recent Pro Bowl, so maybe they’re next into the fold…but all of them seem to unite around the common theme of lampooning the Jets’ first-round choices. Even the ones they hit are subject to satire, as producers gleefully share footage of Matt Leinart-adoring fans booing the Jets’ selection of Mekhi Becton.
Lately, the Jets have provided fodder for those segments. Darnold and Quinnen Williams could well be on their way to first-round infamy. Their day one brothers Leonard Williams and Jamal Adams have already been sent elsewhere via trades. But, so far, Mekhi Becton is blocking those detractors, literally and figuratively.
Becton is turning into a cornerstone on the much-maligned, perpetually rebuilding offensive line. Because the Jets aren’t allowed to have nice things, injuries and controversy have already snuck into his career…namely over whether Becton should’ve been used in Thursday’s loss to Denver after suffering a shoulder ailment four days prior in Indianapolis…but the early on-field returns are promising. Through the first two weeks, Pro Football Focus had Becton as the best-graded offensive rookie amongst all positions. Even at half-strength against the Broncos, Becton managed to look strong, vindicating the Jets’ decision to pass on several high-profile receivers to take him 11th overall last spring. A lot of questions pepper the Jets’ future. If things hold up, Becton’s spot on the blind side of the quarterback, be it Darnold or otherwise, won’t be one of them.
Crowder had established him as a serviceable slot option over four seasons in Washington. In New York, he’s been a consistent bright spot over the past two difficult seasons. Last season, Crowder led the Jets in all major receiving categories. He’s only appeared in two games this season, but he seems well on his way to repeating the feat. The century mark in yardage has been broken in each of his two games thus far, and he’s also responsible for the longest play of the Jets’ season, a 69-yard scoring hookup with Darnold in the Week 1 visit to Buffalo.
A good portion of this modern Jets rebuild is focusing on young players etching a role for themselves in the future. But the 27-year-old Crowder is transforming himself into the reliable veteran role player prescience that championship teams crave. It’s a role comparable to, say, Sammy Watkins in Kansas City. In his second year on the team, Crowder might as well be an established New York veteran at this point. A potential free agent after this season (he signed for three years, but has a potential out at $1 million in dead cap), Crowder has turned himself into one of the players allowed to stick around for the potential glory days ahead.
Sam Darnold’s Mobility
Enough has been written about whether Darnold is still the Jets’ franchise man under center. There are 13 weeks, including a bye, left in this dreary season, so we certainly can’t promise that you won’t see any more articles about the concept.
But one thing that has changed for the better when it comes to Darnold is his mobility. We saw brief flashes of it toward the end of last season…that rollout touchdown to Crowder against Baltimore comes to mind…but Darnold has earned satirical comparisons to Lamar Jackson in the way he’s improved this year.
Thursday night brought this concept to the forefront when Darnold earned a career-best 63 rushing yards, 46 of which came on a long touchdown run on New York’s opening drive. We’ve seen Darnold extend plays by escaping onslaughts f the pocket and finding Braxton Berrios for scores.
Time will tell if Darnold remains under center for 2021 and beyond…heck, an injury sustained in the Denver game has his status for Arizona in question. But his developed mobile talents certainly make a case for his sticking around.
Coaches have come and gone since his arrival in 2016, but special teams coordinator Brant Boyer has made himself eternal. One look at his modern unit shows why.
The Jets’ special teams had to be on their game even before 2020 unleashed their scary surprises. With an offense struggling to find itself and a defense missing two of its top representatives, it would crucial for returns to set up good field position and punts to make things difficult for the offense. Field goals could help a meandering offense end drives on a positive note.
So far, the components have thrived in their respective roles. Sixth-round pick Braden Mann’s punting numbers aren’t lighting up the rest of the league, but he’s become a reliable name on the Jets’ roster while slowly getting things together on the NFL level. He earned a season-best 48.7 yards per boot on Thursday and even made a touchdown-saving tackle in the second half. Josh Malone is averaging 20 yards a return, seventh-best in the AFC. Most importantly, Sam Ficken, 30th in three-point conversion rate last season, has been literally flawless in the early going. He’s one of eight kickers to hit all of his attempts (8-for-8). Of that tally, only Jason Sanders in Miami has hit more (9). If the Jets do what most fans expect and fire Gase, Boyer would make for an intriguing and well-deserved interim boss.
The New York Jets revealed that two more draft picks signed with the team on Monday evening. New York confirmed that they signed defender Jabari Zuniga and quarterback James Morgan, while Manish Mehta of the New York has stated that the team has also officially added punter Braden Mann.
Mehta also had the financial terms for each first-year. Each is worth four seasons, with Zuniga earning $4.73 million, Morgan getting $4 million, and Mann rounding it off with $3.47 million.
Zuniga was the latter of the Jets’ pair of third-round picks, chosen 79th overall out of Florida. Injuries limited Zuniga to five games in his senior season, but he nonetheless managed 33 sacks over four seasons in Gainesville. Capable of playing on both the line and at linebacker, Zuniga was placed on the Chuck Bednarik Award watchlist (awarded to the nation’s top defensive lineman) during a junior campaign that saw him earn 45 tackles, including 11 for a loss, and 6.5 sacks.
Morgan is set to partake in the Jets’ competition for the backup quarterback job behind Sam Darnold. He was chosen in the fourth round (125th overall) out of Florida International. Despite spending only two seasons with the Golden Panthers, having transferred there from Bowling Green, Morgan ranks second in FIU history in passing yardage (5,312) and touchdowns (40).
Mann was the Jets’ final pick of the April proceedings, having his name called with the 191st overall pick. The Texas A&M product was one of the most prolific punters in college football history, earning unanimous All-American honors and the Ray Guy Award (bestowed to the nation’s top punter) after his junior season. His 51.0 average is the best in NCAA history.
With these signings, first-round pick Mekhi Becton and third-rounder Ashtyn Davis are the only Jets selections who have yet to sign.
The New York Jets are entering the 2020 NFL season with one of the youngest rosters in the league. There are many solid players on the New York Jets who are not household names but are one good season away from being recognized as someone of the top players in their positions. I have devised a list of three under the radar players on the Jets who are about to break out in 2020.
Shepherd was taken with the 72nd overall pick back in the 2018 NFL draft. His career got off to a slow start with an underwhelming rookie year and a 6-game suspension to start his second year in the league. At the time many fans were upset with Shepherd and did not expect him to be on the roster for 2020 until he came back from suspension and made an immediate impact. Shepherd came back into the lineup and disrupted opposing offensive lines. His stats may not show it but on tape Shepherd flashed his pass-rushing ability during the last two months of the season. If Shepherd can take the next step do not be surprised to see him in the green and white for a long time.
Ever since his rookie year Marcus Maye has been one of the most overlooked players on the Jets. Marcus Maye is the Robin to Jamal Adam’s Batman; he constantly does what is asked of him and occasionally makes a game-breaking play. Maye is in the final year of his rookie contract and has been the subject of trade over the past year. Maye will most likely want a big contract in free agency, and it is unlikely the Jets will offer him one. Expect a career year for the ball-hawking free safety as he tries to impress potential employers for the 2021 season.
Arguably the Jets’ second-best pick of the 2020 draft Braden Mann is going to show why he was selected in the fifth round of the draft. Mann was the best punter in college last year and one of the best punting prospects to come out in recent years. Mann is a good directional punter and has a cannon for a leg averaging 51.1 yards per kick in 2019. The Jets lost Lachlan Edwards this year in free agency, but they may have added a future all-pro punter as his replacement. If Mann can do half of what he did in college he will be just as good as Lachlan Edwards and with Adam Gase running the offense, he will have plenty of opportunities to show off.