New York Jets: Three new Patriots to fear more than Cam Newton

Cam Newton certainly complicates matters for the New York Jets’ AFC East chances, but he’s far from their only new problem.

Cam Newton cast his shadow over the AFC East and announced six more years of New England Patriot dominance.

Fans of the New York Jets, Buffalo Bills, and Miami Dolphins sang of liberation after Tom Brady announced his departure from Foxboro for the warmer fields of Tampa Bay. After passing on a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft and signing only career journeyman Brian Hoyer on the throwers’ market, the assumed successor to the Brady throne was Jarrett Stidham, he of a 2019 fourth-round selection whose third NFL pass was taken back by Jamal Adams for.a touchdown. The arrival of Newton seemed to restore the Patriots to their former glory without even suffering a single instance of on-field regression.

But the fact remains…just because Brady left doesn’t mean the glory ever did.

It’d be foolhardy for even Brady’s biggest detractor to call him a bad quarterback, but there’s no denying that the six-time Super Bowl champion’s 2019 ledger wasn’t what football surveyors were accustomed to. Brady posted a passer rating under 90 in 10 games last season (in comparison, he had only 10 such games in 2017-18 combined), and the Patriots still managed to go 6-4 in such events. Even during New England’s most recent Super Bowl run, Brady had a combined 74.6 rating in the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LIII.

It’s undeniable that Newton does make the Patriots a better team. This is, after all, a dual-threat not far removed from a legendary MVP campaign. Time will tell if he can fully recover from injuries that limited him to two games last season, but if you have to replace arguably the greatest quarterback in football history, you can do far worse than Cam Newton.

But, as New England’s recent track record proves, success wasn’t determined by a single name. Whoever the new quarterback was, be it Newton, Stidham, or some third party, he was going to walk into a strong situation where he would work with veteran receivers (Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu, first-round project N’Keal Harry), a multi-faceted run game (James White, Sony Michel), and a strong, tenured defense and offensive line…and a Bill Belichick in a pear tree.

In fact, there are other New England newcomers that should warn the Jets and their East brethren that their Patriot problems were still active long before Newton’s arrival…

S/PR Kyle Dugger

The Patriots’ never-ending dynasty has been kept running by countless diamonds in the draft’s rough. No school is exempt from examination from Belichick’s relentless scouts, not even tiny Lenoir-Rhyne University football. The Division II program yielded New England’s first pick in Dugger (37th overall), who shot up the draft board after a strong showing at Senior Bowl week. New England was already relatively set in the secondary (Devin McCourty was re-signed) so the scariest part about Dugger is that he’s a potential force to be reckoned with down the road. Scouts have praised his size and speed, and he’ll have an elite group of mentors working with him (Stephon Gilmore, Patrick Chung, Devin and his brother Jason). More immediately, Dugger can make in the return game, serving as the primary punt man with the Bears.

S Adrian Phillips

Further depth was added in the form of Phillips, the ex-San Diego/Los Angeles Charger. A safety who has made a name for himself as a strong special teams defender, Phillips is coming off a lost 2019, limited to seven games after suffering a broken arm in Week 2. It overshadowed a breakthrough year in which he earned a career-best 94 tackles (an NFL-best 17 coming on special teams) and nine pass breakups. For his efforts, Phillips was named to his first All-Pro and Pro Bowl teams. Quarterbacks also posted a mere 44.8 passer rating when throwing into his area. Defensive upgrades seem redundant for the Patriots, but, Brady or no Brady, they seem to be operating on a time-honored axiom that should be obvious: can’t win if you can’t score.

LB Josh Uche

The Jets spent a good portion of the 2020 offseason upgrading their offensive line, which makes all too much sense when you look back on what Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell had to deal with last year. New England earned 6 of their 47 sacks (second-best in the AFC) in the pair of matchups against the Jets, and while Darnold was the victim of only one, as Luke Falk was the unfortunate soul who started the original game, the relentless pass rush had him infamously “seeing ghosts”. One could see the Patriots losing a defensive edge with their sack leaders Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy respectively leaving for Detroit and Miami, but the Patriots restocked by taking Uche out of Michigan. Reuniting him with fellow former Ann Arbor resident Chase Winovich, Uche can fill the roles the absconders left behind. His speed was particularly impressive, breaking into backfields for 14.5 sacks over the last two seasons. Uche’s arrival ensures that the numerous newcomers on the Jets’ frontline will still have a lot to deal with, as will the new mobile franchise quarterbacks in Buffalo (Josh Allen) and Miami (Tua Tagovailoa).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Defensive expectations for upcoming season

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

The New York Jets‘ defense played well last season, ranking seventh in the NFL in fewest yards allowed. The defense kept the team in games and was one of the few somewhat-consistent areas of the team. The team should be bolstered with some new additions, both in the draft and free agency, and some returning players. I won’t mention every player, but let’s take a look at the expectations for each defensive position group for this upcoming campaign:

This is assuming no additions or changes will be made from this point, i.e. Jamal Adams will be on the team

 

Defensive Line

The defensive line had some positives, and negatives, last season. The main positive is that they contributed greatly to allowing the second-fewest amount of rushing yards last season, behind only the Buccaneers. The line, led by Steve McLendon and Quinnen Williams played well in that regard. McLendon totaled 36 tackles and 2.5 sacks while Williams produced 28 total tackles, one fumble recovery and 2.5 sacks as well. Keep in mind, Williams played in only 13 games last season, as a rookie, due to an ankle injury which kept him off the field weeks two, three and four. Barring any injuries or suspension, he should be expected to improve. He should be expected to total around 40 tackles and 5 sacks across a full season in year two.

One player I expect to get more consistent playing time is Foley Fatukasi. The third-year man out of UConn played in 14 games last season, totaling 26 tackles, in which 7 were for a loss, and a sack. To top it off, from weeks six through nine, he was the third-highest graded defensive lineman in football, behind only Aaron Donald and Calais Campbell. That is some outstanding company to be in, especially for someone who is mostly a rotational player. As a result, I believe he gets more consistent playing time, although he will not be a starter.

The team also added defensive end Jabari Zuniga in the third round of the draft. In 42 collegiate games at Florida, he totaled 118 tackles, in which 34.5 were for a loss, and 18.5 sacks. Depending on his field time and progression, he can add somewhat of an edge rush, which the defense needs. Overall, expect the run defense to remain in the top-five.

 

Linebacker

The linebacker group is going to be an interesting one leading up to, and throughout, the season. The group, led by C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson, could be set up for a strong campaign. Both players are coming off of injury-riddled seasons and should be expected to bounce back. Mosley played in just two games while dealing with a recurring groin injury. In the first game of the season against the Buffalo Bills, Mosley showed why he was signed to lead the linebacker group. Before leaving the game, he totaled 6 tackles, a fumble recovery and a pick-six. If he remains healthy and plays all 16 games, Mosley should be expected to total no less than 90 tackles and a couple of sacks and interceptions. He should have a well-rounded season as he is accustomed to having.

Avery Williamson missed all of last season due to a torn ACL. The year before, he totaled 120 tackles, 6 for a loss, and 3 sacks. There’s no reason to believe that, if he’s healthy, he won’t be near those numbers again. While he may not exactly replicate them due to the number of talented linebackers around him, he should be able to put up numbers near those that Mosley should be expected to.

The team brought back a few players from last season during free agency as well. They brought back James Burgess, Jordan Jenkins and Neville Hewitt. Jenkins, an outside linebacker, had a career-high in sacks last season with eight. His returning outside rush will be one of the top options this upcoming season. For a team that doesn’t have the strongest presence of outside pass rush, Jenkins returning was a nice touch. He shouldn’t be expected to repeat and have a career-high in sacks again, but he should be expected to have between 5 and 6 sacks easily. As for Hewitt, he played the most snaps out of any Jets linebacker last season with 718. He shouldn’t be expected to play the same amount or even have the same amount of production, especially if the main starters remain on the field. He should be a rotational player.

 

Cornerback

The cornerback group played better than many people thought they did. With that being said, they were a middle-of-the-pack group. The team ranked 16th in the league in passing yards allowed per game. The group, led largely by Brian Poole last season, has him returning on a one-year deal. Poole is arguably their best cornerback and should be expected to retain that title throughout the season. He should be expected to have a slight increase in passes defended with more depth and talent around him in the secondary.

The Jets also added veteran Pierre Desir to the group. Desir, who recently played for the Colts, is not necessarily a team-changing addition. However, he does add experience and depth to the thinnest part of the defense.

One of the most interesting additions to the cornerback group is rookie Bryce Hall. Before the 2019 season, Hall was projected to be a potential first-round draft pick by some mock drafts. However, his season was cut short due to injury, and, as a result, he fell to the fifth found. While on the field, Hall, who transitioned to cornerback after originally playing wide receiver, has shown good ball skills and coverage. During his junior season, he led all collegiate players in pass breakups. If he can stay healthy, the Jets may have drafted a day one talent in the fifth round. Hall shouldn’t be expected to be a day one starter, but rather a rotational corner who can produce. In all, the Jets should be expected to have a more productive and stronger year from their corners.

 

Safety

Jamal Adams is the leader in the secondary, on defense and the team as a whole. He has even been in the discussion for being the best safety in the league. After not making the Pro Bowl as a rookie, he has made it in each of the last two seasons. He should be expected to be a Pro Bowler once again and be among the top safeties in the league.

Marcus Maye has been a nice complimentary piece to Jamal Adams since they were both drafted in 2017. Maye bounced back with 65 total tackles, 7 passes defended and one interception after his season before was cut short due to injury. Maye is more than capable of increasing his tackle amount to above 70, as he showed his rookie season. He should be expected to approach the 75 tackle mark and have a few interceptions.

Now we get to Ashtyn Davis, who was drafted by the Jets in the third round of this past draft. Davis is somewhat of a mystery in the secondary. He can play safety, of course, but he could also be moved to play slot corner or nickel. He is extremely versatile and can provide help anywhere. Whether it be rotational help at safety or fill-in time at corner, Davis should provide help everywhere. In all, the Jets’ safety group should be expected to be one of the best in the NFL.

 

Bottom Line

The New York Jets’ defense should be better as a whole this upcoming season. Their run defense should be expected to remain top-five and their pass defense should show improvement. A defense that has some big-time players, such as Jamal Adams and C.J. Mosley, now has a better infusion of talent and help around them. Expect the defense to move up a few spots in the rankings next season.

 

Report: New York Jets have had trade discussions about Marcus Maye

New York Jets, Marcus Maye

The New York Jets could in a bit of a bind when it comes to their top free safety, who is set to be a free agent in 2021.

Per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the New York Jets have engaged in trade talks centered around starting free safety Marcus Maye.

Maye has been a solid contributor to the Jets since joining the team a second-round draft pick (39th overall) in 2017. The Florida alum has earned 178 tackles, 11 pass breakups, and four interceptions over the last three seasons. He has formed a strong relationship with fellow starting safety and SEC alum Jamal Adams, with the two forming a formidable duo in the secondary.

But with both defenders set to enter the final year of their rookie contracts and a big payday potentially coming Adams’ way, it appears that the Jets will at least try to get something for Maye before he potentially leaves for nothing in free agency. Mehta’s report said that both head coach Adam Gase and general manager Joe Douglas engaged in trade talks involving Maye, but no such deals were made. Maye would recover from an injury-riddled 2018 campaign to pick up 65 tackles, seven breakups, and an interception last year.

Adding to the case in trading for Maye is the fact the Jets bolstered their secondary depth this offseason. During the third round of last month’s draft, New York chose versatile safety Ashtyn Davis from Cal-Berkeley (68th overall). Davis earned all-Pac-12 honors over his last two seasons with the Golden Bears and also doubled as the team’s returner. The Jets also added cornerbacks in both the draft (fifth-rounder Bryce Hall) and free agency (Pierre Desir, Brian Poole).

Adams’ fifth-year option would set the Jets back $9.8 million if they choose to pick it up in 2021. Preliminary discussions have been held about a long-term extension or the franchise tag could be used (at the risk of an Adams holdout).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: What to expect from Patrick Graham based on his time in Miami

New York Giants, Patrick Graham

The New York Giants‘ defense in 2019 ranked among some of the worsts teams in the league (25th). The Giants’ defense in 2019 was coached by James Bettcher. James was the defensive coordinator for the 2018 and 2019 season.  In 2019, the Giants’ defense ranked 28th in takeaways and in point differential they were ranked 28th, among the lowest in the league. The Giants fired Bettcher this offseason along with Pat Shurmur after a brutal year for the Big Blue defense. Patrick Graham was hired to the Joe Judge staff this offseason. Graham is coming off his first defensive coordinator job which was with the Miami Dolphins in 2019.

Miami’s Defense

After starting off the season 0-7, the Dolphins were able to cover some ground and finish off the season 5-11. Miami’s defense was ranked among some of the worst defensives in the league. This was not because of the defensive coordinator, however, it was because of the way the Dolphins’ roster was constructed. Many of the players on the Dolphins’ roster were inexperienced and undrafted free agents, not a team fit for a well ran defense by coach Graham.

Patrick Graham’s defense with the Miami Dolphins

Graham had a great defensive scheme in place. The two major play calls of the Miami defense were blitzing and man to man coverage. Graham was very clever with his blitzing packages, using a variety of linebacker and defensive back blitzes. In Miami, Graham would also send in delayed blitzes to really disturb an offense. This was not just done in between the gaps; the blitzes came from different spots on the field. The Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps, 41% on third down (which was the third-most in the league). The Dolphins ran man to man coverage 50% of the time in the 2019 season and would often show blitz and drop back into coverage. This was a great strategy in the Graham defense, keeping opposing offenses on their toes because of the constant blitzing formations.

What Graham’s defense will do for the Giants

What Graham did with Miami’s lower end defense shows a lot of upside for the Giants in 2020. The new Giants defensive coordinator will use multiple fronts and base his decision off personnel regarding what players are on the field. These defensive fronts will combine with a lot of linebacker blitzes and cornerback blitzes. Graham will have a lot of talent and speed in the secondary, making things interesting when he dials up a blitz package. With the Giants making a splash in free agency and the draft in the secondary unit, Grhaman will have multiple guys to choose from to play man and press coverage.

Giants fans should expect a defense that plays tough and physical and flys all over the field. Expect to see a lot of man coverage and numerous blitz packages that will throw off an offense’s game plan. The Giants have a lot of young talent that is mixed with a great amount of speed. Graham was often seen showing blitz and having his players drop back into zone coverage on several occasions with Miami.

Patrick Graham and Joe Judge will be reuniting. The two spent some time together back in New England (2012-2015). Graham was also the Giants’ defensive line coach in 2016 and 2017 under head coach Ben McAdoo. Giants fans should be happy with the hiring of coach Graham as he will bring the physicality and burst of energy the Giants’ defense has been searching for in years past.

New York Jets Draft Pick Bryce Hall Shares Marriage Proposal on Instagram (Video)

After he was chosen by the New York Jets, Bryce Hall’s week got even better, as he shared a video of a successful proposal to his girlfriend.

No matter how your week is going, it’s going to very hard to stop how the past few days have gone fro Bryce Hall.

The former Virginia cornerback was first chosen by the New York Jets last Saturday afternoon in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Hall has now donned a ring before playing his first professional down.

On Instagram, Hall revealed that he proposed to his girlfriend, fellow Virginia Cavalier Anzel Vilojen. Like Hall, Vilojen partook in Virginia athletics, representing the school’s field hockey team as a back. She led the team with 26 points (7 goals, 12 assists) and helped them reach the semifinals of the 2019 NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship in November. The New Zealand native also earned second-team All-ACC honors.

Hall shared his surprise proposal, which Viojen accepted, on Instagram.

“She’s in it for the long Hall,” Hall declares in his caption “excited [sic] and ready to start this next phase of life with my best friend, lover, ride or die and answer to all of my prayers!!”

In the video, Hall is asked by an unseen party what convinced him that Violjen was “the one”. He happily recalled Vilojen visiting him in the hospital after a broken ankle suffered in an October tilt against Miami ended his season.

“When she came to my hospital after I had broken my ankle, that’s when I was like, yeah this is the one, “It was 11:00 at night, everybody else went home and it was just me and her chatting it up. So I knew she was one to keep then.”

Hall’s engagement comes five days after he was the penultimate pick (158th overall) of the Jets’ 2020 draft proceedings. He put up 154 tackles and five interceptions during his four-year tenure in Charlottesville to go with 38 pass breakups. Of that latter tally, 21 came in 2018, which led the nation.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NFL Draft Watch: Top 3 DL Rankings

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, over the next few days I plan on breaking down the best and brightest talents in this years class. The defensive line class has a few solid guys, and one superstar, so where do they rank in my eyes?

1. Derrick Brown, Auburn

Pro Comparison: Fletcher Cox

Derrick Brown is heavily slept on. With Okudah, Simmons, and Young stealing a lot of the headlines, Brown has flown under the radar. Brown is a beast at defensive tackle. He’s versatile, at nose tackles he’s a force and when pushed a crossed the line he is a nightmare for running backs. Brown is a beast against the run with a bright future. Cox is incredible at establishing interior pressure, that’s the kind of thing Brown is excellent at which makes them an obvious comparison.

2. Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina

Pro Comparison: Grady Jarrett

Javon Kinlaw is a physical anomaly. Kinlaw is a good athlete in the interior. Kinlaw is a run stuffer and a matchup nightmare. Kinlaw is a dangerous player, but he’s flashed a lot of inconsistencies. Kinlaw can be a matchup nightmare similar to Grady Jarrett. At times, Jarrett can be nothing more than a drawer of doubles teams to free up other guys. Kinlaw can do that and continue to grow and become a better prospect.

3. Ross Blacklock, TCU

Pro Comparison: Henry Anderson

I believe there is a talent drop off after Kinlaw. Blacklock is a talented player with a very high ceiling but he has some issues that need to be worked on. His football IQ could stand to grow, but that will develop with time. He could use some technical refinement, but aside from that, he’s a physical specimen. He creates interior pressure with his blend of size and speed and he’s a low-risk high reward prospect that could be a contributor early and often at the next level. Henry Anderson strikes me as a solid comp because of his ability to create interior pressure and be moved all around the line. 

Happy Birthday Neville Hewitt; Five Big Plays from the New York Jets LB

New York Jets LB Neville Hewitt has worked mostly as a reserve, but the defender has come up big at certain points of his football career.

Neville Hewitt is used to his football jersey carrying shades of green. It began with the Thundering Herd of Marshall, where he earned Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2014. Such an honor failed to lead to a phone call during the NFL Draft. But Hewitt has since been carving a solid career for himself in the NFL.

Hewitt turns 27 on Monday, and he’ll have extra cash to spend courtesy of the New York Jets. The reserve linebacker was signed to a one-year, $2 million dollar earlier this offseason, welcoming him back for a third Jets season.

While Hewitt has mostly come off the bench, he has proven himself valuable on several occasions. In honor of Hewitt’s big day, we look back on the best moments of his NFL career to date…

12/17/16: Miami Nice

One of Hewitt’s first big NFL moments came at a Jets game at MetLife Stadium under the supervision of Adam Gase. But Hewitt wasn’t a member of the Jets just yet…he, Gase, and the Miami Dolphins were wrapping up the team’s first winning season since 2008 in a Saturday night showdown in East Rutherford.

In the final stages of the third quarter, Hewitt earned his first NFL sack, part of a five-tackle evening. Short-lived Jets starter Bryce Petty was the victim, and Miami took the game by a 34-13 final. They would earn a wild-card playoff berth with an overtime win over Buffalo the week after.

12/9/18: Hew Era Field

After three years in Miami, Hewitt joined the Jets in March 2018. Reps as a reserve and as a special teamer awaited him, but Hewitt was pressed into starting when calamities hit the linebacking group (i.e. a season-ending suspension to Darron Lee). Hewitt’s first Jets start came in a visit to Buffalo.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen tried to pick on Hewitt, throwing to his assignments nine times. Only three made it to their target, and Hewitt also tied for the team lead with eight tackles. He and Henry Anderson also united for a sack on Allen, one that helped stall a Buffalo drive in Jets territory. The Jets wound up winning the game 27-23.

12/23/18: Invading Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood

Hewitt had no problem working overtime for Christmas…or, at least, for Festivus. He wound up partaking in every single snap in the Jets’ 44-38 overtime defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers.

Despite the loss, Hewitt created a solid showcase. He tied a career-best with nine tackles and earned the first solo sack of his Jets career with a takedown of Aaron Rodgers. The star quarterback was forced into several other throwaways thanks to Hewitt pressure, but nonetheless got knocked down three separate times.

9/8/19: Just Joshin’

When will Josh Allen learn? Perhaps Hewitt heroics too often come in Jets losses, but the linebacker certainly played a role in the effort to prevent a 17-16 loss to the Bills on opening weekend last year by victimizing the Bills’ franchise man again.

Allen only targeted Hewitt assignments on four occasions this time around, but the defender made him pay on one such chance. His interception of Allen in the late stages of the second quarter gave the Jets a chance to build a two-possession lead just before halftime. Alas, Kaare Vedvik let Hewitt’s gift go to waste by missing a 44-yard attempt, one of the biggest differences in the narrow defeat.

Hewitt’s robbery was the second interception of his career. As a rookie Dolphin, he earned his first turnover with an interception of Tony Romo during a November 2015 tilt against Dallas.

LANDOVER, MD – NOVEMBER 17: Neville Hewitt #46 of the New York Jets celebrates with teammates after intercepting a pass against the Washington Redskins during the second half at FedExField on November 17, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

11/17/19: Rude Washington Welcome 

Interconference play seems to bring out the best in Hewitt. He set a new career-best with 11 tackles against Philadelphia in October, but he had a deadlier surprise in store for the Washington Redskins when the Jets hit up FedExField just over a month later.

A dire matchup between teams with a combined three wins was at least partly anticipated for one occasion. First-round pick Dwayne Haskins, the latest in an endless line of Washington franchise saviors, was making his first Landover start. Hewitt was happy to issue the first interception-induced home groans, as it was he that was responsible for Haskins’ first turnover on his new stomping grounds. It was one of several fireworks the Jets enjoyed in a 34-17 win, one that helped spark a 6-2 streak to end the 2019 season.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

XFL 2020: New York Guardians Season Evaluation

New York Guardians

The New York Guardians of the remastered XFL debuted on February 9, 2020, vs the Tampa Bay Vipers. They won their inaugural game 23-3. Ever since then they have been a mixed bag.

The next two weeks they lost horribly to the DC Defenders and the St. Louis Battlehawks by blowouts. Many fans started to feel like it was a tradition to lose in New York (New Jersey) football since the New York Giants and New York Jets have not had a winning season in a while.

Anyway, since Luis Perez had taken over for Matt McGloin as the starting quarterback, their record improved to 3-2. That was until the coronavirus outbreak spread and caused multiple sports leagues to suspend their seasons, including the XFL.  Here’s the Guardians’ 2020 season in review:

Offense

The offense at times looked great when it came to scoring points, but stale on the stat sheet. The first week the Guardians won against the Tampa Bay Vipers 23-3. What may have looked like a 20-pt deficit should have been a lot closer. That game Matt McGloin had an average game, only passing for one touchdown and completing just over 50% of his passes.

McGloin’s play dropped against the Defenders in a blowout 27-0 loss. He threw 2 interceptions as the running game did not get much accomplished. The total offense totaled 137 yards. McGloin during the game and after criticized the offensive gameplan.

The offense improved when it came to the yards vs the Battlehawks, but only 9 points showed up on the scoreboard. As Matt McGloin got injured, backups Luis Perez and Marquise Williams saw some playing time.

Perez replaced the injured McGloin the next week and the offense saw an improvement. Darius Victor rushed for a season-high 82 yards, as Perez completed 69% of his passes and threw a touchdown. The Guardians won a nailbiter 17-14.

The offense saw their best game vs the Renegades in Week 5, scoring 23 points (7 on the pick-six by Ryan Mueller) in a 30-12 win. Though intercepted once, Perez still guided the offense to a much-needed win on the road. The Guardians totaled 373 yards that game.

The offense was 7th in total offensive yards, 5th in average rush yards, 6th in average passing yards and last in points for and average points for.

Defense

The defense was best known for its playmaking abilities at certain times this season. The defense also was known for giving up a lot of yards.

Week 1 vs Tampa Bay was a prime example of that. The Guardians only gave up 3 points but gave up 394 yards.  Bryce Jones and Aaron Soh picking off Aaron Murray twice. Aaron Murray and backup Quinton Flowers combined to pass for 244 yards. The rush defense struggled mightly giving up 150 yards.

The defense gave up fewer total yards the following week but gave up more points in a 27-0 loss to the DC Defenders. Cardale Jones had a field day, as he passed for 264 yards. The running game did better and only surrendered 108 yards.

The pass defense limited Jordan Ta’amu to only 117 yards the next week vs the Battlehawks. The run defense took a hit and gave up 156 yards. The final result was a 29-9 loss.

The defense saw little improvement vs Josh Johnson the next week in a nailbiting 17-14 victory. Josh Johnson made the pass defense bleed by passing for 325 yards (the most given up by the Guardians in 2020). The run defense only allowed 108 yards on the ground between Johnson, Elijah Hood, Dujuan Harris, and Larry Rose.

Next week, they had their best game. The run defense allowed a season-low 56 rushing yards and the pass defense held Philip Nelson to 206 passing yards. Not to mention that defensive tackle Toby Johnson and linebacker Ryan Mueller picked him off.

The Guardians’ defense finished the season 6th in yards allowed per game, 2nd in sacks, 4th in takeaways, 2nd in points against and 2nd in average points against. Defensive tackle Cavon Walker led the XFL with 4.5 sacks.

Analysis

Going into next year, the New York Guardians will have to improve on both sides of the field.

The offense will have to work towards thriving more in the passing game and keep their current run production game going. With an offensive genius like Kevin Gilbride as the head coach, the offense definitely underperformed.

The defense will have to work on allowing fewer yards per game, whether the opposing run game or the passing game gets the bigger chunk of yards. They do create a lot of pressures, which turn into sacks, and force the opponent to turn over the football.

The Guardians’ players will have extra time to prepare for next season, so let’s see if they take advantage of it.

New York Jets Mock Draft 1.0 Rounds 1-3

The Jets officially locked down their position for the 2020 draft. They could have a compensatory pick added if the Giants bring back Leonard Williams but for the time being, this is where they’ll pick. Using The Draft Network Mock Draft Simulator and taking the best players at each position based on needs, potential, and more here is an early projection of what the Jets draft could look like.

Round 1 Pick 11: CeeDee Lamb WR Oklahoma

Robby Anderson seems inclined to look for the best possible destination to play both competitive football and get paid around $10 million a year. It remains to be seen whether or not the Jets will bring him back next year. With or without him on the roster, CeeDee Lamb would be an excellent addition. In this scenario, all three premier offensive line prospects were off the board. Lamb was the most talented player available and he projects to be a Deandre Hopkins Esque wideout at the next level. His route running could be improved but he’s a dynamic number one receiver type who can stretch the field and provide significant YAC potential with every catch. Adding Lamb would be an excellent weapon in Darnold’s arsenal for the future.

Round 2 Pick 48: Mekhi Becton OT Louisville

Adding Becton, especially in the second round would be a STEAL. Becton is a 6’7 369-pound beast who could immediately provide an upgrade at left tackle. Becton has the potential to be a Star left tackle who can produce in a big way at the next level. His size makes him an excellent pass protector and his mauling style of blocking makes him a beast in the run game. Adding Becton would be the type of move that would immediately gain Joe Douglas a lot of fans.

Round 3 Pick 68: Zack Baun EDGE Wisconsin

Zack Baun can be the type of piece that Gregg Williams would have a lot of fun with. He plays with a lot of heart and has a very high football IQ. He’s a smart pass rusher and a damn good one. He had 12.5 sacks last year for Wisconsin and deserves significant Draft attention. Baun is not a perfect player but he’s the kind of player with the potential to be a captain of the defense in the future and play a TJ Watt style role in the defense. Baun would be a great pick for the Jets at 68 and would immediately slot in as a rotational pass rusher.

Round 3 Pick 78: Najee Harris RB Alabama

If Lev Bell is still in the picture come April the Jets may be reluctant to take a half back. However, I don’t foresee Bell being a Jet come April. Najee Harris is the next good running back churned out of a school that’s produced so many talented backs over the past few years. He’s never been a lead back and if Bell is still around he would be a good complementary back. If he is the lead back then he will need to grow into the role over time and develop as a pass-catcher. Overall though he’s a talented running back with good size. He reminds me of Matt Forte and if he can be any bit as good as him then the Jets will have found themselves a nice weapon for Sam Darnold.

Summary of Rounds 1-3

The key point of the first three rounds was getting protection and weaponry for Darnold that will grow with him as well as adding an edge rusher with a lot of potential at the next level.

What Jake Marisnick will mean for the New York Mets’ Defense

New York Mets trade for Jake Marisknick

The New York Mets‘ defense got a big boost when they traded for elite defender Jake Marisnick.

On Thursday, the New York Mets acquired one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball in Jake Marisnick. That’s a  huge deal for the Mets. They finished with -94 DRS in 2019, which was the second-worst in baseball. It’s also the second-worst all-time for a team with a winning record.

Adding Jake Marisnick is a huge step to changing that. Marisnick graded out as a top-10 defensive outfielder in baseball last season by OAA. That’s with only playing 733 innings in center field. When his innings match those of the leaders in OAA like Victor Robles and Kevin Kiermaier  he moves up to the third-best in baseball.

That’s a huge improvement for the Mets. They got negative defensive production out of Conforto, Nimmo, and Lagares in CF in 2019. So, having Marisnick patrolling CF alone is a huge improvement, but it’s not the only one. He also improves the defense by pushing both Nimmo and Conforto into full-time corner outfield roles.

Nimmo and Conforto may be negative defenders in CF, but they’re both above-average defenders in the corner outfield spots. An outfield of Nimmo, Marisnick, and Conforto could be one of the best defensive outfields in baseball. That’s a huge step up from an outfield that was one of the five worst in baseball in 2019.

This isn’t going to fix all the Mets’ defensive issues. Most of those issues revolve around the infield, where the Mets were the worst in baseball defensively. The Mets also have a stable of ground ball pitchers in their rotation, which lessens the effect of this signing.

However, it’s easy to forget how many hits, especially extra-base hits, could have been avoided with a good defensive outfielder, let alone an elite one. Marisnick coming in should limit damage done against the Mets on fly balls. That means less runners on and less runners in scoring position. That, in turn, means less pitches for the starters, which will limit the work the bullpen has to do.

No, Marisnick is not the most valuable player. He isn’t going to single handily fix the Mets’ defensive woes, or make the pitchers better. However, he puts everyone on the team in a better position to succeed. That’s all anyone can ever ask for from this kind of trade.