New York Jets positional preview 2021: Wide receivers

The New York Jets may have found a big-play man in Denzel Mims, but the receiving picture behind him is far murkier.

The Position: Wide Receiver
On the Roster: Braxton Berrios, Lawrence Cager, Jamison Crowder, Denzel Mims,
Free Agents: Breshad Perriman, Jeff Smith, Vyncint Smith
Reserve/Future: Josh Malone, D.J. Montgomery, Jaleel Scott

With the offense at a crossroads of sorts, the New York Jets are looking for playmakers. When it comes to their receivers, they may have uncovered a diamond in the second-round rough in Denzel Mims, but things behind him a lot murkier.

Part of the reason why it’s been so hard for Sam Darnold to develop a true rhythm as the Jets’ franchise quarterback is that his targets have undergone a ridiculous amount of turnover. Upon the departures of Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, no receivers from Darnold’s rookies season of 2018 remained on the roster. In the of the 2020 season, Mims eventually found his NFL footing after missing the early stages due to injury, vindicating general manager Joe Douglas’ decision to pass on first-day talents like Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Justin Jefferson.

But Douglas’ free agent options didn’t fare as well. Breshad Perriman, for example, failed to recapture the glory of his final Tampa Bay days, earning only 30 receptions over 12 games. New England castaway Chris Hogan failed to make a difference and the injury bug refused to leave the Jets alone. The most consistent part of the unit, slot man Jamison Crowder, led the team in all major receiving categories for the second straight season. Crowder is under contract for one more year, but the Jets would save just over $9 million in cap space if they moved on from him through a release or trade.

Even if Darnold doesn’t return under center, the Jets needs to freshen the receiving situation for the newcomer. The unit’s last 1,000-yard endeavors came through the Brandon Marshall/Eric Decker pairing during the doomed 2015 campaign.

Free Agents-to-be 

Breshad Perriman

Signed to a one-year deal worth $8 million ($6 million guaranteed), Perriman was brought in as the potential top target after ending his single season in Tampa in style (506 yards, five touchdowns in his final five games in 2019). But he never lived up to that billing in New York. He sustained an injury in the early going and never gained any momentum, save for strong performances in the New England games (8 receptions, 185 yards, 2 touchdowns).

With a new regime coming in and Perriman struggling in his lone green season, he is likely destined to hit the market.

Jeff Smith

Undrafted out of Boston College, the former quarterback has turned into a fun project in New York. Injuries have stunted his true potential, but Smith earned 167 yards on 17 receptions last season. That included a strong 81-yard showing when he was called upon to take extended duties when ailments ate up the top of the depth chart. He could potentially return as a depth option under new receivers coach Miles Austin.

Vyncint Smith

After getting some extended playing time when injuries struck in 2019 (joining in-season from the Houston practice squad), Smith himself landed on injured reserve in the early going and was limited to seven games, during which he only earned a single reception and lost his return duties to Braxton Berrios and Corey Ballentine. It’s possible he could get another go at it if the Jets want to create a special teams competition.

Will They Draft?

While there are plenty of names available to the Jets through free agency…and there are plenty of resources to bring in an elite name…the Jets’ receiving corps needs a complete makeover. With an extra pick in two of the first three rounds, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them use one on a receiver. In the event they get Watson…a happening made increasingly remote but the Texans’ apparent stubbornness to hold on to the disgruntled thrower…they likely wouldn’t have the second pick to use on Heisman winner Devonta Smith, but Jaylen Waddle, his Tuscaloosa partner-in-playmaking, might be around if they hold onto the 23rd pick send from Seattle. The speedy Waddle has seen his projections fall after enduring an ankle injury in Alabama’s October tilt against Tennessee.

Day two options open to the Jets could include Kadarius Toney, Rondale Moore, Sage Surratt, and Amon-Ra St. Brown.

Veteran Possibilities

Allen Robinson, Chicago

Unlike Watson, Robinson is set to be a free agent and isn’t held back by stubborn management if he wants to find new opportunities. Fresh off a career-best 102 receptions despite the Bears’ unstable quarterback situation, Robinson could be a game-changer for the Jets no matter who’s throwing to him. Additionally, Robinson hasn’t exactly been subtle about his approval of the Jets’ offseason thus far. Twitter sleuths uncovered that some of Robinson’s recent “likes” involve calling for Watson to go to New York and approval of the Robert Saleh hire.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh 

If there’s one thing Darnold needs right now, it’s consistency. Bridges are burned with, say, Anderson (who has become a selling point in Carolina’s ongoing rebuild), but Smith-Schuster’s Sothern California collaborations with Darnold earned rave reviews. Smith-Schuster caught some of Darnold’s earliest passes as the two guided USC to a 10-win season in 2016, capped off by the epic 52-49 thriller against Saquon Barkley and Penn State in the Rose Bowl. Smith-Schuster and Darnold united for 133 yards on seven hook-ups in that game, which afforded the Trojans the third slot in the final AP poll from that season. Some will point to Smith-Schuster’s propensity for pregame TikToks as an excuse to stay away, but that’s a small price to pay compared to the comfort and stability Smith-Schuster could provide to a quarterback in desperate need of those feelings…be it Darnold or otherwise.

Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay

For all intents and purposes, Godwin should be one of the biggest household names in football. Through no fault of his own, Godwin often gets lost in the headlines, but that might happen when your catching cohorts are Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, and Rob Gronkowski. Godwin also missed four games with a hip/quad injury but still managed to post 840 yards after a breakout year in 2019. Godwin has played a major role in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl endeavors as well; he scored a touchdown that put them ahead for good in the Wild Card round against Washington and led the team with 110 yards in the NFC title clinch against the Packers. If Godwin is looking for a place to prove he can be a No. 1 receiver, New York would be a strong place to do it.

Outlook

A makeover is definitely coming to the Jets’ receiving corps. Free agency would certainly be the better way to go, as it would provide Mims a good mentor and give the team so much-needed, experienced stability. Whoever comes into the Jets’ quarterback spot is going to be thrown into a roaring green fire. They need to do whatever they can to make Darnold or the incoming new party to feel as comfortable as possible. Providing him with a strong, elite receiving talent would be the best way to do that.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: S Marcus Maye named Team MVP

The fourth-year safety topped the list of honorees as the New York Jets released their list of team award winners.

As it turns out, a fourth-year safety from the SEC wound up making a big difference for the New York Jets after all.

The team announced on Thursday that safety Marcus Maye was the winner of their Team MVP Award for the 2020 season. Named after legendary rusher Curtis Martin, the award is voted upon by Jets players. Maye’s name will be added to a large wall at One Jets Drive’s training facility in Florham Park, joining fellow secondary defenders Jamal Adams (2018-19), Darrelle Revis (2009, 2011-12), Brian Washington (1992), and Dainard Paulson (1964).

Forced to take on a larger, stronger role on the Jets defense with Adams dealt to Seattle during the offseason, Maye has earned positive reviews for his 2020 performance and has served as a rare silver lining in a brutal season. He currently ranks second on the team in tackles (71, including a pair of sacks) and leads with 11 pass breakups. Maye has also earned his share of highlight-reel plays, including jaw-dropping interceptions against Miami and Seattle. He also had a critical pass defense in the final stages of the Jets’ Sunday visit to Los Angeles, where they earned their first win of the season over the Rams.

Speaking with Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com, Maye credited his teammates with helping him win the prestigious green honor.

“I’m out there showing the ability that I have, but it’s not just me out there, it’s 10 other guys,” Maye said. “We all have a common goal and that’s to make plays and win games, and when we step out on the field, that’s what we try to do. So hats off to them.”

“Showing up to work each day and seeing that wall right in front of the door, you have no choice but to look at it and see all the names on it, see all the greats that have been through here. So just being part of that, something that’s going to be there forever, that’s definitely an honor.”

Maye, a second-round pick out of Florida in 2017, is set to become a free agent this coming offseason.

“He’s one of those guys that works hard and doesn’t talk much, but he will speak up if he feels like he has to,’’ former Jets teammate and modern New York Giant Leonard Williams told Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post. “I think it’s even more powerful sometimes when you hear something from a guy that doesn’t talk much. You know he means it.’’

Other honorees released by the Jets on Thursday included…

S Matthias Farley: Maye wasn’t the only safety honored on Thursday, as Farley won the Community Service Award named after Marty Lyons, the Jets’ former defensive star and current radio analyst. This season, Farley has made virtual visits to Atlantic Health Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, NJ. He joins Kevin Mawae and Kyle Wilson as the only two-time winners of the title.

DL Folorunso Fatukasi: In the midst of a breakout season on the defensive line, Fatukasi has also won the Kyle Clifton Good Guy Award. The title is voted upon by the Jets’ staff and is named after the longtime defensive presence.

RB Frank Gore: The 38-year-old rusher was bestowed Most Inspirational Player Award named after the late Dennis Byrd. Gore joins his fellow running back Martin (2001-03) on the list of winners of the honor, which pays tribute to Byrd’s recovery from a devastating neck injury during a 1992 game.

TE Ryan Griffin: Griffin was nominated by his teammates to be the Jets’ representative in the Ed Block Courage Award The title is earned by players who “exemplify commitments to the principles of sportsmanship and courage”. Griffin has been praised for rehabbing through an ankle injury suffered last season in unusual times. He has played a majority of offensive snaps this season.

WR Denzel Mims: Injuries have prevented Mims from making a true impact on the field, but the second-round choice earned the Bill Hampton Award, sent to the “Rookie Who Acts Like a Pro”. It is named after a former Jets equipment manager.

The Jets (1-13) return to action on Sunday afternoon for their final home game of the season against the Cleveland Browns (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Denzel Mims out Sunday against Seahawks

The New York Jets will be traveling to Seattle Sunday to play the Seahawks. However, they will be without rookie wideout Denzel Mims.

Mims is currently dealing with a “family emergency” that has kept him out of practice the past few days, after flying home to Texas. He won’t be eligible to play due to COVID-19 protocol, but the situation has nothing to do with the virus, as Adam Gase spoke about it yesterday.

Mims has been a consistent target during his first six games, totaling at least 40 receiving yards in each one:

  • 4 receptions, 42 yards
  • 2 receptions, 42 yards
  • 4 receptions, 62 yards
  • 3 receptions, 71 yards
  • 4 receptions, 67 yards
  • 2 receptions, 40 yards

Expect Braxton Berrios to be next in line for more targets from Sam Darnold when they face Jamal Adams and the Seahawks.

Three reasons why a QB1 would want to come to the New York Jets

New York Jets, Trevor Lawrence

Enough negativity, pessimism, and parody has surrounded the 2020 New York Jets. It’s time to focus on a (hopefully) brighter future.

It’s understandable to see why the 2020 New York Jets have become a bit of a punchline. The team appears to be the year 2020 A.D. personified, trapped for five more weeks in a season that will go down in infamy, even if the Jets (0-11) do manage to eke out a win before all is said and done. Their next opportunity to do comes on Sunday afternoon against the Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, CBS). 

The Jets and their fans have been through untold amounts of gridiron catastrophe over the decades, but a winless season has avoided them for the time being. Either way, those who make football funnies, both through pregame shows and social media, have been granted a plethora of material by the Jets’ modern endeavors.

It seems like a tired tradition at this point, but Jets fans are looking toward the future with hope. The light at the end of the turfed tunnel appears to be the right to choose first at the 2021 NFL Draft come spring. It’s assumed by many that, if the Jets were to secure that pick, they would use it one of the passing talents at the top of the big boards.

But football comedians and analysts alike are seeking to deny the Jets even that simple pleasure. Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields are juniors, but very much expected to make the early leap to the NFL once this college football season ends (potentially in the College Football Playoff). But, if the horizon becomes a bit too scary, respective returns to Clemson and Ohio State for senior year, while seemingly unlikely, would be options that were indeed on the table. Amateur and professional pundits alike have openly taunted the Jets with the idea that one or both would go back to school, if only to avoid the ongoing cesspool of New York football and to take advantage of the time-honored tradition of harvesting clicks through the “LOL Jets” subgenre. Peyton Manning partook in a similar gambit in 1997, choosing to go back to Tennessee after the Jets chose not to commit to taking him with the top pick after the one-win disaster in the final year of the Rich Kotite era.

In short, many have asked: what could the hapless Jets possibly offer an accomplished college name, especially one with a viable option like the back-up plans Lawrence and Fields have?

ESM feels there’s enough negativity surrounding New York’s green team; here’s what they have to offer to their new franchise man.

New York Jets, Joe Douglas
 (Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

There’s Plenty to Spend

Even if the Jets opt to move on from Darnold, this season has proven that a simple quarterback switch isn’t going to solve all of the Jets’ problems. But there’s another list where the Jets rank toward the top, other than the draft order: the 2021 cap space table.

This offseason, the Jets will have just over $82 million of cap space to spend, trailing only fellow early picker Jacksonville ($85 million). It’d be fair for Jets fans to ask if general manager Joe Douglas is willing to splurge; after all, Douglas was blessed with some extra funds late this summer but opted to mostly stand pat with the team he had (passing on signees like Jadeveon Clowney and Logan Ryan). Many of the free agents that did join up with Douglas haven’t truly panned out thus far, some through no fault of Douglas or their own, instead being lost to injuries. But in comments made earlier this year, Douglas seemed to hint that this prior offseason, defined by short-term deals and a sense of hesitation, could serve as a learning experience, potentially hinting at bigger things in the future.

“I think we had a focus on what we going to try to attack in the offseason. That was on the offensive side of the ball with o-line and skill players. Ultimately, for a lot of different reasons, it hasn’t materialized this year on that side of the ball,” Douglas said, per notes from the Jets. “We’re going through this offseason, we’re going through what our processes were in the offseason and trying to figure out what we can do better moving forward.”

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

A Blocking Revolution is Well Underway

If Douglas has succeeded in one area during his year-plus on the job, it has been in doing his utmost to make up for the relative offensive line negligence of the Mike Maccagnan era. His first moves at the helm were to trade a draft pick for Alex Lewis and convincing Pro Bowl staple Ryan Kalil to come out of retirement. Lewis has been effective but injured, while the Kalil experiment failed to yield positive results. But those moves foreshadowed the much-needed rebuild of the New York offensive line.

In April, Douglas used the first draft pick of his Jets tenure (No. 11 overall) on a blocker out of Louisville. Upon hearing his name, Mekhi Becton became the first New York lineman taken in the first round since the legendary D’Brickashaw Ferguson in 2006. His drafting has provided sweet relief in a lost season, with his results on Pro Football Focus (where he is one of 15 NFL tackles with a grade of at least 70 in both pass and run blocking) showing a promising return on investment.

“I think he is a player that is going to help us long-term,” Douglas said in notes and video from the Jets. “We’re excited about working with him every day, because you’re talking about a young man that loves football. He’s very smart, he’s tough as nails, and has a rare size and athleticism. And still, he’s just scratching the surface of what he can do physically. There’s a lot of desire from him to want to be the best player that he can be, so we’ve made it our mission to sort of bend over backward to try to help him reach his goals.”

Some of Douglas’ other additions have not panned out, and that’s apparent in the current state of the offensive line. Greg Van Roten has been durable but inconsistent and George Fant has been average, but other additions like Connor McGovern (the one Jets free agency signee from last season with no cap savings on a potential out) and Josh Andrews have been most disappointing. There’s little reason to doubt that Douglas will once again look toward the free agent front to find protection through both experienced (Alex Mack) and younger (Joe Thuney) options alike.

The idea of a blocking revolution doesn’t even have to have a new quarterback to protect. It instead could continue at the top of the big board if Sam Darnold rises to the occasion over the final games. If that’s the case, the Jets could perhaps opt to choose tackle Penei Sewell out of Oregon to help not only Darnold but what will likely be a new weapons package. Sewell opted out of the 2020 season but has already declared for the draft. He will bring the Outland Trophy and unanimous All-American honors with him.

 Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Weapons Are Emerging

No matter who Douglas chose with the 11th overall pick last spring, he was going to annoy some subsection of the New York fanbase. For everyone who wanted a blocker, there was another who demanded that Douglas dip his toe into the pool of receivers available toward the draft’s middle stages. The Jets will face one of those receivers on Sunday with Henry Ruggs partaking in the Las Vegas efforts. New York also passed on Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Justin Jefferson in the process. A consolation prize awaited in the second round in the form of Denzel Mims from Baylor.

When it comes to Mims, it appears that Douglas’ patience is paying off. He had to wait a little longer due to training camp ailments but has since become one of the Jets’ most reliable receivers. Mims has since united with Breshad Perriman and Jamison Crowder to provide a spark to the New York offense. The two have played in each of the Jets’ past three games. In that span, the Jets put out a season-best 322 yards in Week 9’s Monday night loss to New England and their margin of defeat has trickled to an average of just over eight points. Without the trio, they were losing by an average of 18.

Despite some emergencies from de facto homegrown talent…rookie rusher La’Mical Perine was also starting to find a bit of a groove before landing on injured reserve…Perriman was added on a one-year deal while Crowder could be a cap savings casualty, so the Jets must take full advantage of their expanded cap space in an illustrious market. The team can probably get by with Perine as their top rusher (though an affordable, decently-aged veteran like Phillip Lindsay or Wayne Gallman could provide a nice compliment), but they must be ready to splurge in a crowded receivers’ realm. Allen Robinson will likewise be the top option alongside JuJu Smith-Schuster, whose rookie deal in Pittsburgh is set to expire.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Three stars from Sunday’s loss vs. Miami

Sam Darnold returned to the field, but the New York Jets’ offensive spark did not, as they fell without a touchdown to the Miami Dolphins.

A relic of the New York Jets’ past put them one step closer toward their future.

Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 257 yards and two touchdown passes, guiding his Miami Dolphins to a 20-3 victory over the Jets on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. New York (0-11) welcomed back Sam Darnold to their lineup, but he failed to keep the offensive progress rolling, throwing two interceptions and only 197 yards in defeat. Miami (7-4), on the other hand, kept pace in the AFC wild card hunt, staying a game behind Buffalo for the division lead and gaining ground on the fallen Las Vegas Raiders in the wild car chase.

ESM does have some game ball to dispense for the Jets, mostly coming from the defensive side of things after yet another defeat…

3rd Star: WR Denzel Mims

(4 receptions, 67 yards)

The Jets’ future with Darnold looks a bit murky, but it’s abundantly clear that Mims has a bright future with this franchise. In the third of what could be dwindling opportunities with the current Jets thrower, Mims earned 67 yards on a quartet of receptions, the primary tally being a 30-yard gain that mostly consisted of yardage after the catch, a gain that brought the Jets out of the shadow of their own goalposts. If the Jets could earn Mims his first 100-yard day and his first NFL touchdown, that just might be enough to call this dreary final stretch a success.

2nd Star: LB Neville Hewitt

(6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF)

A case against tanking comes in the form of Hewitt, who may be the type of player trying to impress both the Jets and other teams moving forward. Hewitt has risen to the occasion over the past three seasons as a reliable depth option, duplicating that process on Sunday against Miami. He gave the Jets some hope in the third quarter with a strip-sack of Fitzpatrick that situated the Jets in Miami territory. Hewitt has signed one-year deals with the Jets in each of the past two offseasons; he’s currently working his way toward a third…and possibly even longer.

1st Star: DL Quinnen Williams

(7 tackles, 2 passes defended, 1 sack)

Despite a year from the depths of the football underworld, Williams has taken a major step forward after a difficult season. He was perhaps in the Miami backfield more often than some Dolphin running backs on Sunday, earning a sack of Fitzpatrick and forcing a Matt Breida fumble that set up yet another failed opportunity for the offense. Williams also had a pair of pass breakups in defeat. Not only can the Jets be pleased with his development in a lost year, as Williams is one of the few Jets taking advantage of a season where there’s nothing to lose, but he’s starting to build a bit of a Pro Bowl case as well.

The Jets return to action next Sunday against the Las Vegas Raiders (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is @GeoffJMags

4 players the New York Jets should be thankful for

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

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.

New York Jets: Should the Jets re-sign Breshad Perriman?

New York Jets, Breshad Perriman

This season has been very tough for the New York Jets. With the Jets already out of playoff contention for this season, they need to start working for next season. Should the Jets lockdown Breshad Perriman to a long-term deal and keep him with Sam Darnold?

Perriman has been battling injuries this season, missing four games this season. Before Week 9, Perriman only averaged 2.75 catches a game, with only 29.5 yards per game in the other four games he started in. With his poor performance at the beginning of the season, why should the Jets re-sign him?

Why should the New York Jets re-sign Perriman?

Pros

Perriman signed a one-year deal with the Jets this past offseason for $6.5 million. Perriman in the past two weeks has been the deep threat the Jets have needed. Perriman has caught seven out of his 11 targets for 155 yards and three touchdowns in the last two weeks. Perriman has easily been the bright spot of this poor Jets offense.

Think about this trio of receivers, if they all can be healthy. Perriman, rookie Denzal Mims, and Jamison Crowder. That is a solid trio that can stay with Darnold for years. With all three receivers all playing at once, the Jets’ offense average 27.5 points in all three of their games. Gang Green needs to keep these three together.

Cons

Perriman has only been successful in two games this season. He has been terribly inconsistent. If you want a multi-year extension, you have to play consistently week in and week out. Perriman has only tallied at least four receptions or 60 yards only twice this season. Perriman consistency is going to have to change for the last six games for the Jets if he wants that contract.

Not only Perriman has not been the best player on the field earlier in the season, but he has also missed a bunch of games. Perriman missed four games this season due to ankle, knee, shoulder, and concussion injuries. Perriman needs to stay healthy for the next six games if he wants that multi-year deal.

The New York Jets have a lot to think about this offseason. Perriman is a player that needs to be thought about for the Jets and personally a player that the Jets need to bring back. To have that trio of Perriman, Mims, and Crowder could be solid for Darnold in years to come.

New York Jets: 3 positives in a season of negatives

The New York Jets remain the lone winless team in the NFL after their loss to the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. Aside from the 0-10 record, the season has been riddled with negative occurrences. Whether it’s incompetent play-calling, injuries, or having the last-ranked offense, it hasn’t been pretty.

However, funny enough, it hasn’t been solely negative. Some parts of the team, and some players, have been bright(er) spots for the Jets. Here are three of those positives that deserve some notice:

Denzel Mims

The second-round pick for the Jets has shown some real promise, already. Through his first four games, after missing the first six due to injury, he’s totaled 13 receptions for 217 yards. That’s an average of 16.7 yards per reception. Now, he doesn’t qualify for league-leading stats because he’s only played four games. However, if he did, he’d be the eighth-ranked wide receiver in terms of yards per reception.

Mims has shown solid route-running, ability after the catch and the capability to make tough catches.

The small sample size we’ve gotten from him so far is cause for some excitement. He definitely has some areas that need improvement, but overall, seeing him on the field has been a major positive the past few weeks.

Marcus Maye

Marcus Maye has definitely been one of the bright(er) spots on the Jets. Additionally, after the departure of Jamal Adams, he is now playing strong safety for the first time.

Through 10 games, Maye is on track for a career year. Here are his stats thus far:

  • 54 total tackles
  • 5 passes defended
  • 1 interception
  • 2 forced fumbles*
  • 2 sacks*
  • 3 tackles-for-loss*
  • 2 QB hits*

*Career-high

Already reaching career-highs in four areas, he is definitely having a nice year for the Jets. Sure, it may be aided by his increased usage, but he still has to go out there and produce, and he is.

Kickers

This one may come as a shock to some people, but the Jets kickers have quietly been much better than in previous seasons so far. Sam Ficken and Sergio Castillo have shared the kicking duties this season, and both have been pretty accurate. Ficken has played in seven of the ten games, so let’s take a look at his stats first:

  • 9-10 FG
  • 90% FG*
  • 8-10 XP
  • 80% XP

*Career-high

His numbers aren’t mind-blowing by any sense, but, quietly, he has been a positive player. Now, he has missed three games, though. His replacement, Sergio Castillo, has been pretty solid as well. Here’s how he has fared so far:

  • 6-7 FG
  • 85.7% FG
  • 4-4 XP
  • 100% FG

Those are all career-highs, technically, because this is his first NFL season. The former CFL kicker was a nice fill-in for the Jets over those three weeks and may be getting another starting job chance in the future. However, at this moment, he, Ficken, Maye and Mims have been positive aspects of this negative season.

 

 

 

Three stars from the New York Jets’ Sunday loss at Los Angeles

Far removed from the playoff picture, the New York Jets engaged the Chargers in a strong duel despite another defeat.

Justin Herbert threw for 366 yards, with 145 of those tallies and 16 receptions going to Keenan Allen, and the Los Angeles Chargers doomed the New York Jets to yet another defeat, topping Gang Green by a 34-28 final in the latter’s first visit to SoFi Stadium. Joe Flacco had 205 yards and two scores for the Jets (0-10), who managed to earn three sacks on the rookie Herbert. If anything, Jets fans certainly see Sunday as a win if only because they hold their ground in the battle for the top overall pick in 2021. In contrast, Los Angeles (3-7) now sits in sixth after their victory.

ESM looks back on three stars for the Jets in their latest, entertaining defeat…

3rd Star: WR Denzel Mims

3 receptions, 71 yards

It took a while to truly get things rolling, but the Jets did enjoy some production from their healthy top receiver trio. Jamison Crowder was mostly held in check, but Breshad Perriman hauled in 54 yards on a pair of receptions, one of which was a 49-yard grab that started the Jets’ second half surge. Mims had his moments to shine in the second half, earning a trio of receptions in dramatic fashion, as his highlight reel grabs are perhaps the Jets’ strongest beacons of hope going forward. One could argue that Mims probably could’ve had the game-tying score, but no penalty was called despite contact from Tevaughn Campbell.

Once Mims learns how to play a full game, he’ll truly be dangerous. Perhaps the return of Sam Darnold could help unlock the final stages of his rookie development in the coming weeks, consisting of games that become far more watchable with Mims in tow.

2nd Star: TE Chris Herndon

2 reception, 32 yards, 1 TD

Sunday began to offer some hope for the career of Herndon for perhaps the first time since his promising rookie season. Last year was a wash due to a suspension and injuries, while this ongoing campaign has been defined by some tough drops in less-than-ideal situations. But while the stats were pedestrian to the naked eye, the visit to the west coast could serve as a good chance for Herndon to mentally prepare himself for a big final stretch, especially with his rookie camp roommate Sam Darnold possibly set to return in the near future.

Herndon had two receptions, but both came in major opportunities. A diving grab in the second half netted 26 yards and he later scored the Jets’ final touchdown of the late afternoon, trimming the Los Angeles lead to one possession in the fourth quarter. Herndon is one of the few Jets with his 2021 status more or less secure. If he can build some momentum that he can take into next season with him, this woebegone campaign can still produce a win.

1st Star: DE Henry Anderson

5 tackles, 1 blocked punt, 0.5 sacks

Early in the game, it was hard to tell if either Anderson or Herbert was going to spend more time in the Los Angeles backfield. Anderson’s antics allowed the Jets to keep pace with the Chargers in the early going, ending the first Los Angeles possession with a blocked punt that set up La’Mical Perine’s early score. Toward the end of the first half, Anderson came up big again with a crucial, nine-yard sack of Herbert that limited the Chargers to a far less costly field goal on the final play.

Anderson is perhaps one of the biggest cases the Jets have against tanking. With his 2021 release bringing the Jets over $8 million in cap savings, he has to do every possible to prove himself essential to the Jets in these final hours. Even if the Jets do opt to cut ties, if only for financial reasons, Anderson would be wise to treat the last seven weeks as a potential audition for 31 other employers.

The Jets return to action next Sunday afternoon against the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS). 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

New York Jets: Seven reasons to tune into the final seven weeks

The situation is undeniably dire, but there are still clean, less-than-macabre reasons for New York Jets fans to keep watching.

After a one-week reprieve, the New York Jets return to the football field on Sunday…much to the chagrin of their embattled fanbase.

The Jets’ annual bye was perhaps liberating for supporters of the NFL’s only winless team in 2020. It perhaps gave them the freedom to talk to family members, work around the house, prepare for their own week ahead. They probably tuned into other NFL action or partook in the final round of The Masters during a busy Sunday in sports. Those in the metropolitan area, in fact, are blessed enough that this tri-state area provides enough activities in which to adequately distance that one perhaps can avoid the Jets outright as they wrap up a woebegone 2020 season.

But countless fans will undoubtedly flock to their television monitors on Sunday late afternoon to watch the Jets battle the Los Angeles Chargers in their first visit to SoFi Stadium (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). New York returned to Florham Park this week, looking to find the good from their latest loss, a 30-27 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots. Head coach Adam Gase that his team won’t be going down without a fight as they prepare to play seven weeks of what will amount to mostly meaningless football.

“I think we had some really good plays this last game, where we won one-on-one matchups and made the other side pay for it. I think defensively, we just got to continue to get better at getting people off the field,” Gase said, per notes from the Jets. “I think there’s a lot of little details that we can definitely clean up and I know our coaching staff’s, that’s what they spent the majority of the last week doing is making sure that we had a good plan going into this week, we explained it to the players today, we made sure that we went in detail of our expectations and what we need to work on moving forward.”

If Jets fans truly need a reason to get back into the fold of things, if only to have a built-in excuse for avoiding holiday preparations, ESM has a corresponding number of reasons…

(Photo: Getty)

Mims’ the Word

Jets fans had to be patient when it came to Denzel Mims’ NFL debut after the second-round pick endured hamstring injuries during training camp that eventually put him on injured reserve. So far, Mims has proven to be well worth the wait, earning 146 yards on 10 receptions thus far. Mims has earned positive reviews for his route running and ability to create separation and set an infantile career-best with 62 receiving yards in last week’s Monday night tilt against New England.

“I think the last few weeks you’ve seen some positive things from him, especially for a guy who’s really had two weeks of practices prior to playing in two games,” general manager Joe Douglas said about Mims, per Jack Bell of NewYorkJets.com. “I mean really, this is almost like the end of training camp for him in terms of the amount of actual professional football reps that he’s had. We’re really excited about seeing his progression these last eight games and what he brings in terms of his catch radius, ball skills, and route running.”

The Baylor alum has strong potential as a big play receiver and has put the Jets’ minds at ease for passing on several name-brand receiving talents at 11th overall to take Mekhi Becton (who has done a decent job in dispelling those doubts as well). Some big milestones could await Mims over these final hours, including his first NFL touchdown and 100-yard game. Provided all stay healthy, the Jets’ progress with the top three receivers of their group (with Mims joining veterans Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman) should be something to keep an eye on. With all three in the lineup for the first on Monday against the Patriots, the Jets put up a season-best 322 yards of offense.

 Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Kids Are All Right

Even with extra playoff capital, 2020 was never meant to be a year of contention for the Jets, but one to develop and nurture their rookies. Between Becton and Mims, Douglas’ first draft has positive reviews, but other plays have struggled to get into the fold due to injuries (OL Cameron Clark, DE/LB Jabari Zuniga, CB Bryce Hall), or being stuck behind talent that has been bid farewell (RB La’Mical Perine, S Ashytn Davis)) or lost to injuries of their own.

With nothing to lose, there could be some prime opportunities for the Jets to work their rookies in their lineup on a more regular basis. Gase certainly appeared to have the idea in his mind shortly before the Jets departed for their open date.

“We’ve got to lead the way. I think especially, this rookie class, these guys have done a good job of just focusing on the present, trying to get better, trying to make sure that when their number is called that they’re available and they’re ready to make plays,” Gase in Jets notes. “I know these guys are getting a ton of playing time now, and that’s going to work to our benefit in the long run. It’s frustrating right now to go through, but seeing these guys going out there and playing and the amount of guys that are playing that are that are rookies,  I want to say we almost had 10 playing this last game.”

“The thing that you can say is the effort is through the roof, they’re given everything they have. We’re going to have to live through some mistakes, but at the same time a lot of these guys are playmakers and they’re going to help us find ways to win games eventually.”

Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Last Stand of Super Bowl XLVII

Joe Flacco and Frank Gore are more than likely set to join Brett Favre and Chris Johnson on the all-time “Wait, He Played for the Jets?” team’s depth chart. But these staples of new century football may be making their final stands not only in green New York uniforms but in the NFL as a whole. Flacco has taken over starting duties in the absence of Sam Darnold while Gore continues to hold primary rushing duties since Le’Veon Bell departed.

While it’s clear that neither potential future Hall-of-Famer is living up to the numbers or performances of their glory days, the former Super Bowl co-combatants have embraced their roles as veteran mentors to a team full of young players and guys trying to find their NFL footing.

“My goal is to show the young guys what it takes to be successful in the NFL. If they can see me working hard every day, they have no other choice than to follow. I’m going to keep working and keep fighting,” Gore told the Inside the Jets podcast. “That’s why I’m playing the game still.”

“The only thing you can do and, in terms of being on teams that have gotten through tough times, is that you have to stay in the moment, tune out the outside noise,” Flacco said in a report from Bell following a defeat in Miami last month. “It’s a lot harder to go out every week in practice. It happens to a bunch of teams every year, but the NFL doesn’t stop playing games because you’re going through a tough time.”

The Jets’ youngest participants would be wise to heed the advice of Gore, who is now 993 yards away from passing Walter Payton for second place on the all-time NFL rushing yards list. Gore’s NFL endeavors began in the midst of a rebuild in San Francisco, who began the rusher’s career with six consecutive non-winning seasons. With the help of fellow homegrown talents like Vernon Davis, Alex Smith, Patrick Willis, and Colin Kaepernick, Gore eventually broke the 49ers out of their rut with a 13-win season in 2011. The season after, Gore led the charge for the 49ers’ first Super Bowl trek in nearly two decades.

“Frank has been an unbelievable veteran to have on this team,” Douglas said, per notes and video from the Jets. “The leadership that he brings on a daily basis, how vested he is to help not only the offense but the entire team and especially young guys.

Free Agency’s Anything But Free

Part of the reason why it’s so ludicrous to guilt the Jets into the already ludicrous notion of tanking is that there well could be some NFL futures on the line moving forward. Rookies are relatively safe and veterans like Gore and Flacco are another step toward retirement or don’t figure to play major roles in future depth charts. But the Jets have plenty of free-agents-to-be whose last seven weeks could well be the difference between an NFL job next year and counting down the days until the XFL’s return in 2022.

The Jets have 29 players set to hit free agency once the 2020 season hits its merciful end. Primary among them are several defensive starters like Marcus Maye, Pierre Desir, and Brian Poole (who is currently dealing with injuries). An inevitable purge is likely coming to the Jets roster, a storm signaled by the dealing of reliable veterans like Bell, Avery Williamson, and Steve McLendon elsewhere. The final seven games will more or less serve as an audition for not only New York for the other 31 NFL outposts across the country. Offensively, Breshad Perriman will seek to not only stay healthy, but look to try and build a long-term home in either New York or elsewhere as he works with the final stages of his one-year deal inked over the spring. The former first-round pick is certainly excited about the immediate future and the opportunities ahead over these last seven weeks, especially if he can continue to work with Mims and Crowder on a consistent basis.

“You’ve got to kind of be positive about the situation,” Perriman said of the New England loss, per Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com. “It was the best game the offense has had all season, and like that’s just the start.”

 Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Sam-I-Am (the Future?)

Darnold’s continuing issues with a shoulder injury couldn’t have come at a worse possible time from a personal standpoint. With the team on a collision course for the No. 1 pick and the quarterback prospects that come with it in next spring’s draft, these final weeks could’ve served as one last stand for him, seven opportunities where the only thing that mattered is providing reassurance to the Jets’ decisionmakers that he is indeed the man under center for the future. The already painful injury must certainly sting a little more with the top receivers back, which could’ve set the stage for Darnold’s long term future.

In his statements during the bye week return, Darnold expressed a desire to play well over these final weeks but made it clear that his health had to come first, especially since he has already missed considerable time due to injury this season. Darnold sustained the injury during the Jets’ Week 4 loss against Denver and suffered a re-aggravation four weeks later against Kansas City.

“I’m just going to continue to do what I need to do, first and foremost to get healthy, and then when I do play, play well. Just make sure that I’m doing everything I need to do to execute the plays that are called,” Darnold said, per notes from the Jets. “At the end of the day, my job as a quarterback is to move the ball down the field, take care of the football, and score touchdowns. I feel like once I get back out there, I’m going to do everything I can to do that.”

If and when Darnold gets healthy and gets back on the field, his potential last stand could be one of the biggest storylines across the league, especially amongst the eliminated teams.

Quinnen Williams, New York Jets

Q & Pay

To say it’s been a tough season from a Jets standpoint would be the understatement of this chaotic year. But Quinnen Willaims, the final top pick of the Mike Maccagnan era, has undergone a redemption season that shows exactly why it was worth taking him third overall in the 2019 draft proceedings.

Apparently set to stick around after some rumors of a deal swirled at the trade deadline, Williams has been one of the rare consistent silver linings of the modern Jets. The sophomore from Alabama has already broken his rookie totals in tackles (31), tackles for a loss (7), and sacks (3). Amongst his fellow interior linemen, Williams ranks in the top ten in a good number of Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics.

The final seven games of Williams’ strong push in the right direction should be inspiring to Jets fans everywhere.

“He’s at the very top of our league as an interior guy,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams (no relation) said shortly after the trade deadline passed, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “He’s only going to get better. I believe that. If he stays healthy, he’s going to be really, really, really good and I’m glad he’s here.”

Spoiler Alert!

This could well play a factor in the Jets’ joining the Lions and Browns in 0-16 infamy, but the Jets have an improbable chance to leave an impact on the NFL playoff picture in their winless state. With the exception of the Chargers (whose seven losses have come by a combined 32 points), each of the Jets’ remaining adversaries is no more than two games removed from a playoff spot. If the season ended today, all but two (the Chargers and Patriots) would go to the postseason.

The idea of the Jets disrupting the postseason party is not as shocking as it seems. Last season, their Week 16 win over Pittsburgh was more or less responsible for keeping the Steelers out of the 2019-20 playoffs. In modern times, this woeful campaign might all be worth it in the end if the Jets were to go to Seattle in Week 14 and at least put a dent in Jamal Adams’ playoff hopes. The Seahawks currently hold the final NFC playoff slot after dropping three of their last four games, leading Chicago by a game-and-a-half.

While many Jets fans would probably be downright pleased with losing outright to improve their draft position (if the apathetic reaction to the New England loss was any indication), the players aren’t letting the scary schedule determine their fate.

“It is Monday night football, but at the end of the day it is another game, another opportunity,” Fatukasi said prior to the New England game according to Bell. “My biggest objective is to go in and play as hard as I can with my teammates, rally with my teammates, and play a good game.”

“This is what we play for…to get a W.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags