New York Jets position group evaluations: Tight Ends

New York Jets, Chris Herndon

As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each New York Jets position group within the organization and grade each group. Today’s group is one of the most encouraging groups on the roster. That is the tight end room. From a highly anticipated bounce back tight end to a standout veteran, to a potential diamond in the rough, this group is one of the best on the roster. So let’s get into it.

TE 1: Chris Herndon

Without a doubt, the most anticipated return on this roster is Chris Herndon. Last season, Herndon entered the year with very high hopes. After a suspension and an upper buddy injury, Herndon’s sophomore season was a bust. Now, he’s back, and he’s been a star of camp. Reporters have been consistent across the board in their lauding of how he will be the critical piece to Sam Darnold’s success. With the lack of receiver depth, Herndon will be counted on to play a significant role. As I previously wrote, Herndon will either be the X-Factor of the offense and the key reason Darnold takes the next step or the reason Darnold has nobody to turn to when the play breaks down.

TE 2: Ryan Griffin

Last season, without Herndon, many analysts wondered who’d step up at tight end. Those questions were quickly dispelled with the impressive play of Griffin. With 34 catches for 320 yards and five touchdowns, Griffin proved to be a huge red zone threat. If Herndon can be the dynamic threat over the top and outside (when need be), then Griffin will be able to play a huge role in red zone success. As long as both guys can stay healthy when the Jets put out two tight end sets, they could be a force to be reckoned with. Griffin does tend to struggle with consistency, though, so as long as he doesn’t become a non-factor, he’ll be a great piece of the offense.

TE 3: Trevon Wesco

The West Virginia product was a curious selection by the former front office regime when he was picked in the fourth round of the 2019 draft. Wesco wouldn’t have been a controversial pick if he was known as a dynamic threat in the red zone or over the middle like the two other tight ends in the room, but he was traditionally known as a blocking tight end. Then, this offseason, he became a much more well-rounded athlete as Adam Gase has stated, and he’s found a real rhythm in camp reportedly. If Wesco can show in-game that he can be a weapon, that would only make the offense all the better.

Grade: A-

This group is FAR from a proven group. With that said, the way Douglas and Gase have built this group, they have potential to complement each other very nicely. Not only that but with the lack of depth at receiver, these guys will be counted on to step up. I truly believe this group has potential to shock some people this year and mask some of the Jets offensive inadequacies. 

New York Jets Position Group Grades: Running backs

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each position group within the New York Jets‘ organization and grade each group. Today’s group is the running backs. Headlined by a thinner and motivated Le’Veon Bell, the ageless wonder that is Frank Gore, and the dynamic rookie in LaMical Perine. It’s a good group with a lot of potential, but how much can potential carry this group, let’s take a closer look.

RB 1: Le’Veon Bell

Without question, Lev Bell is the lead back for the 2020 campaign. Bell is determined to prove that last season’s poor performance was a fluke. He set a record for the lost YPC in franchise history, and I’m sure that doesn’t sit well with him. Bell is lighter than last year, has more quality linemen blocking for him and a coach taking accountability for his poor usage. Still, how much of that is fools gold. Bell is still struggling to keep frustrations quiet, and we know what happened last time a Jet did that. The offensive line could fail to gel and prove to hinder the offense early on. Most of all, Adam Gase may decide to take more of a committee approach and not give Bell the reps he truly deserves. I think Bell will be more improved this year, but I can’t say have I have the same confidence in Adam Gase to use him properly.

RB 2: Frank Gore

Fresh off another year of not looking like he’s slowing down. The 37-year-old running back is being counted on to play two roles this season. After jumping to #3 on the all-time rushing yard rankings, Frank Gore has continued to be an aggressive and productive back. He’ll be counted on to get meaningful reps early.

Gore is also being counted on as a leader and mentor to the younger backs in Perine and Bell. Gore is going to have his hands full trying to keep Bell quiet and still mentor Perine as a rusher. If anyone can do it, though, Gore can. Gore has been touted as one of the most impressive rushers in camp, and I’m genuinely excited to see his impact with the squad. I just hope Gase doesn’t overuse him in lieu of Bell.

RB 3: LaMical Perine

Perine suffered a low-grade ankle sprain that had potential to be A LOT worse. I and Jets fans everywhere feared the worse upon the report he was carted from practice. Now, Perine will hopefully be back quickly and able to contribute by Week 2 at the latest. Perine has the potential to be a change of pace back that really compliments the punch you in the mouth rushing style the other two backs have. Perine has flashed his impressive speed early and often in camp, and I’m excited to see him take the field as well. Perine needs to get some reps early to see if he is capable of being the long term back for this team. I’m weary of his durability and overall productivity, but ultimately I’m hoping for the best.

Grade: B

I really like this group. It’s one of my favorite position groups on this roster as a whole. I think the combination of potential with veteran presence is something that could really benefit the team as a whole. Plus, the value Bell brings as a pass-catcher adds another dimension to the offense. I have high hopes for this team. My biggest fear is Adam Gase is the reason I get let down. 

New York Jets add former Air Force defensive back to ranks

New York Jets, Zane Lewis

The New York Jets have added a new piece to the secondary in the former track star and defensive back Zane Lewis. Lewis was signed by the Cardinals as a UDFA out of Air Force for the most money of any of the 21 UDFAs they brought on.

When watching him, a few key abilities show why he earned the money he did originally. His speed, versatility, and on-field production are big reasons why and why the Jets picked him up quickly.

How will Zane Lewis fit in with the New York Jets: 

At Air Force, Lewis played in 37 games with 94 tackles, 5 TFLs, and 2 INTs. In 2019, Zane played in all 13 of their games and put up 45 tackles and one pick. He also finished fourth in the Mountain West for pass deflections with 15 as well.

Lewis was a key contributor and leader for a squad that had their best year in a long time, finishing 11-2. Lewis received a lot of compliments during the pre-draft process for his coverage abilities and his vertical speed. His biggest flaws though, came when looking at his tackling. It was evident in watching him shortly that he needs to get better as a tackler to stick in the league.

With the Jets they have a lot of depth at corner currently. That doesn’t mean much, though. Aside from Pierre Desir, Bless Austin, and Brian Poole, there is no clear 4th option. If Lewis comes in and performs quickly, he could fight for that role at some point. Still, with his flaws, he will need to shape up quickly. If he does, the speedy corner could be a nice addition. 

Jets cancel practice, stand behind protests for greater change in society

New York Jets

Following in suit of the NBA, some MLB teams, the Lions, the Washington Football Team, and the Colts, the New York Jets have canceled today’s practice. As teams continue to formulate their responses to the Jacob Blake shooting that occurred in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Jets have been the latest to cancel practice as a way of protesting for greater change.

Yesterday, current Owner Christopher Johnson addressed the team in wake of the shooting as Connor Hughes of The Athletic wrote:

“Christopher Johnson spoke to Jets about the Blake shooting — this after he gave every member of team his cell number to talk about social injustice whenever they need someone. ‘You just don’t see that’, coach Frank Bush says. ‘It is rare. It’s a rare situation.’”

Johnson has shown he won’t take a nonresponsive stance towards the current state of our country which is something that no doubt carried over to the decision to cancel practice.

Another factor in that decision was the player’s outcry. Yesterday in speaking to the media, new safety Bradley McDougald and slot wide receiver Jamison Crowder both were incredibly passionate about the need for change within our country and our communities. Their heads are evidently and understandably focused on a much bigger societal issue and football should no doubt come second to that right now.

So, with a little over two weeks until the Jets take the field, they’ve joined the rest of the pro sports world in taking a stance against social injustice. Where this heads in terms of professional sports returning and the impact it makes remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, just like everything else going on in 2020, this is one for the history books.

The Good and The Bad of New York Jets First Scrimmage

New York Jets, Nate Hairston

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

The Good

Frank Gore

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

LaMical Perine

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

Mike White and James Morgan

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

Ashtyn Davis

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

The Bad

Turnovers

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

First Team Defense Pressure

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

Injuries

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

Wide Receivers

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

Lev Bell

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

New York Jets Position Group Grades: Quarterback

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, James Morgan

As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each New York Jets position group within the organization and grade each group. The quarterback position, aside from Sam Darnold, has lacked depth in recent years. That was ever apparent last season with the poor play of quarterbacks in Darnold’s absence. This offseason, the Jets looked to address that problem with the additions of Joe Flacco and James Morgan.

QB 1: Sam Darnold

Sam Darnold enters year 3 with incredibly high expectations. Darnold has his work cut out for him. The Jets receiver room is incredibly thin and lacks a true number one receiver. The running back room and tight end rooms are more than formidable. The offensive line is presumably improved, but ultimately the team has no sure things for him. Coming off a solid finish to a year hindered by mono, Darnold has reportedly shown growth in the offseason as both a leader and an athlete. Now, it’s time to put it to the test in Orchard Park in 2 or so weeks. For now, though, his factor into the grade is based on both the potential, end of season, and early career woes.

QB 2: Joe Flacco

Once Joe is healthy, the job is his. Flacco wasn’t brought in to sit behind two young third-string caliber QBs and a rookie. He was brought in because a former Super Bowl champion who can mentor Sam and also step in if need be. Flacco provides stability at the backup position that the Jets didn’t have last season with Trevor Siemian. Still, how stable is Flacco truly? Last season he was less than impressive in Denver. Then he got hurt. Coming back from injury and exiting his prime doesn’t give me much excitement for Flacco, still, his veteran experience earns him decent points for me when grading the group.

QB 3: Mike White

Surprise! White has caught the eye of many in camp. I’ve been thoroughly impressed with what I’ve seen in terms of footage. White is only 25, but after being released from the Cowboys, he’s been a practice squad fixture. Now, White came into the season more in shape than ever and throwing a great ball. He’s never stepped on an NFL field, but he got an opportunity to go against the starting defense and impressed in a scrimmage. White might not know the offense as well as Fales, but if he can even remotely perform on the field, he’s the best option at backup for now until Flacco is healthy. White is unproven, but I’ve been impressed, so he’ll do okay for me in terms of grading.

QBs 4 & 5: James Morgan and David Fales

Neither guy has been very bad or outstanding in camp. The decision on who gets the third spot likely comes down to investment, thus, Morgan will stay on the roster. White, Fales, and Morgan is all about preference. I talked about White’s good ball. Fales knows the system like the back of his hand. Morgan has all the size and leadership to be an excellent backup. I like Morgan a lot and hope he gets a shot to be the main back up soon. I wouldn’t doubt that Fales will be gone after camp, but once again, it’s all about what Gase thinks fits best. For that reason, I’m grading this purely on potential as a backup for each individual.

Final Grade: C+

I think Sam Darnold is a B-B+ QB, but he can’t carry the uncertainty of the rest of the room on his back. With Flacco injured and the unproven nature of Fales, White and Morgan, there is no sure thing to backup Sam. As last season proved, the backup is key, and without a sure thing, I don’t feel comfortable giving this group a great grade. Still, if Flacco is healthy and one of the other three can step up, this room isn’t awful, so a C+ feels right.

Potential Jets Head Coaching Candidates if the Adam Gase experiment fails

New York Jets, Adam Gase

Currently, the New York Jets are a little over a year removed from tapping Adam Gase to be the next head coach of the franchise. The Jets’ choice came down to three guys. Now Panthers coach Matt Rhule, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy and Gase. Now, with his less than impressive reputation from Miami and a mediocre first season in New York, Gase is a hot seat candidate for next offseason. Obviously, the hope is that Gase is the long term leader of the team. However, if Gase can’t show growth in year two, these are a few early candidates to replace him.

Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy 

Eric Bieniemy is a football lifer. Bieniemy was an All American running back for the Colorado Buffaloes. Bieniemy was a Heisman Trophy finalist and ultimately earned himself a spot as a pro running back. Then, after nearly a decade in the NFL, Bieniemy went into coaching. After being the offensive coordinator for his alma mater, Bieniemy has now worked his way up to Andy Reid’s right-hand man.

Following a Super Bowl win, Bieniemy continues to fly under the radar. Bieniemy is almost certain to earn more head coaching consideration this next cycle, and if the Jets are in the market for a coach, Bieniemy would be an obvious candidate. Bieniemy is a natural leader who has built excellent relationships with his players. Bieniemy is likely the safest option of next offseason with the level of mentorship he’s had and his extensive knowledge. Still, the Jets have tried the safe route before with their last two hires, and it’s time to go for a more innovative candidate. 

Buffalo Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll

The Jets should turn to the AFC East for their next head coach. Daboll came into Buffalo to mentor Josh Allen and has since been tied to his development. He’s been credited for designing the offense around Allen’s strengths and having an excellent control over the offense. Daboll is a quarterback whisper, but that sentiment can only carry him so far if Allen doesn’t take another big jump this season. If Allen and the Bills offense takes another step forward, Daboll could be a proven yet innovative mind that could make sense.

Carolina Panthers Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady

Joe Brady has been labeled as a key guy in the step Joe Burrow took last season from a mediocre season to one of the best statistical seasons in college football history. Brady also used Clyde Edwards Helaire fairly well and all the other weapons LSU had. Brady now earned a shot to prove himself at the pro level. Brady will now run the Panthers offense for this upcoming season. A good season could catapult him from a young coordinator to a franchise-changing head coach. Brady still has to prove himself before he earns legitimate hype as a head coach candidate.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Coordinator Byron Leftwich

Leftwich is a former quarterback turned coach. After showing impressive growth in his first season as the offensive coordinator for the Buccaneers, Leftwich deserves recognition. Leftwich led the top offense in franchise history, which says something. Leftwich is still unproven having a mediocre season in 2018 as the Cardinals offensive coordinator. Leftwich would be an outside the box hire that could reshape the offense for the long haul.

Michigan Football Head Coach Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh tends to set an internal limit on how long he can stay in one spot. Once the team gets back on track and competitive, he tends to head elsewhere. Prior to this season, he seemed content with Michigan, that was until the pandemic postponed the season. Harbaugh seems less than enthused with the way the Big Ten has handled the situation, so could that prompt a move? Harbaugh was floated as a candidate once before, and he could make a lot of sense this time around.

Current Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams

I firmly believe that if the Jets were to ax Gase, Williams makes the most sense as his successor. Yes, he’s been a head coach before, but that was nearly two decades ago. Williams had a 17-31 record coaching the Bills. Since then, he’s been a defensive coordinator for a bunch of different teams. He also has grown as a coach from experience, and that showed two seasons ago. After the Browns axed Hue Jackson midseason, Williams piloted the team to a 5-3 finish that set expectations incredibly high for last season. Then, when the Browns passed over Williams for Kitchens, he found a home in New York. With the lack of success Kitchens had last season, it’s fair to say that Williams was the reason that team had as much success as they did. Williams is a true leader and deserves a shot to try again at leading a franchise.

Report: New York Jets in on Yannick Ngakoue sweepstakes

New York Giants, Yannick Ngakoue

Well, this is something. The New York Jets are reportedly “deeply involved” in talks with the Jaguars for the services of Yannick Ngakoue per Michael Lombardi. The former exec previously reported he foresees a deal occurring for Ngakoue very soon. Ngakoue has been a rumored trade candidate all offseason, and could finally be heading to a new location. Ngakoue heading to New York would change the organizational landscape.

What It Would Mean

Adding Yannick would absolutely reshape the defense. For starters, the Jets would have their first true pass rusher in years. At just 25, Yannick has barely scratched the surface of what he could be. In just four seasons, Yannick has 122 tackles, 37.5 Sacks, 14 Forced Fumbles, 42 TFLs, and 2 INTs. Yannick is an absolute freak who would be an impact player immediately.

Not only that but adding a pass rusher like Yannick changes the way opposing offenses game plan for this defense. This then allows guys like Jordan Jenkins, who’s always been better suited as a number two pass rusher, to truly flourish. You’d also see a guy like Quinnen Williams, who’s already showing an impressive level of growth in training camp, take a huge step up with less attention on him. The whole defense would benefit from a pass rush. The weak secondary would be able to be masked all the more. Most of all, Yannick would bring the star-like presence that the Jets lost just a few weeks ago in the Adams trade.

Will It Happen?

It remains to be seen if Douglas will pull off such a deal. The move seems out of character for him on the surface. However, Douglas is the kind of negotiator capable of magic, as seen in the Adams deal. The rumored compensation is a 2nd rounder. If the Jets can walk out of this deal without parting with a first and get Ngakoue, then Douglas deserves a statue. Not only that but then they can keep those firsts for a draft that will likely be very interesting without college football in the fall. The move would be great, so hopefully, it’s not just a report with no true grounds. 

New York Jets add receiver with Championship experience

New York Jets, Chris Hogan

Per Tom Pelissero, the New York Jets have signed a wide receiver! After Adam Gase talked briefly on Friday about wanting another veteran target, Joe Douglas went out and got one for him. In lieu of Denzel Mims’ injury and now Vyncnt Smith not practicing today with a core muscle issue, adding another receiver was of the utmost importance. Adding 31-year-old veteran, Chris Hogan, with two Super Bowl rings could be a game-changer to the team’s receiving corps.

What Hogan Brings to the New York Jets: 

The Jets’ receiving room is in a unique spot currently. They have, as I’ve previously highlighted, a lot of boom or bust players. If Breshard Perriman is on, he could be a dangerous weapon for Sam Darnold. If not, he could be a significant liability to the young QB.

As for Jamison Crowder, last season he was the receiver the Jets hoped he would be, but with a history of injuries, he’s no sure thing. Denzel Mims is going to be far behind when he does return due to his injury and an abbreviated offseason. Vyncent Smith was supposed to be the fourth option, but with him not only being inexperienced, now he has core muscle tightness which could be an issue. 

Then, the rest of the group is highlighted by other guys like Lawerence Cager and Braxton Berrios who could make an impact, but more than likely are backups for this season.

So, adding another receiver was paramount. The Jets signed Chris Hogan, who’s coming off a year where he spent a lot of time on the IR after getting arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. Prior to that, he had 8 catches for 67 yards.

So, looking back to 2018, his last full season, Hogan was very productive. Hogan had 532 yards on 35 receptions, adding 3 touchdowns. This role was also not as a starter in the Patriots’ offense. So, in a likely starting role, his production could increase a lot more. Now, as he joins his 4th AFC team, Hogan still is no sure thing. He’s bounced around the league, he’s coming off a fairly serious knee injury, and he only has a short amount of time to refresh himself on Adam Gase’s playbook. If the former college lacrosse player can do that, then this addition could be just the boost that the receiving room needs. If he can’t, then he adds himself to the list of the other boom or bust receivers on the Jets roster.

New York Jets 2021 Draft Targets: Micah Parsons

Micah Parsons

Despite the enjoyment of August baseball, it’s never too soon to talk about the next NFL Draft. The New York Jets will certainly need to prep for this upcoming draft, as they’ll now have two first-round selections following the Jamal Adams trade. Judging by the state of the league, it also stands as a very real possibility that the Jets are drafting near the top of the order. So, I wanted to begin highlighting a couple of targets for the Jets in the 2021 draft.

Who is Micah Parsons?

Micah Parsons has been a member of the Penn State Nittany Lions since 2018. From Harrisburg High School, Parsons was a highly-touted athlete in his recruiting class. As he’s transitioned over the past two seasons to college football, he found his niche as a new age linebacker. Similar to Isaiah Simmons in last year’s class, Micah can do it all.

He’s a tackling machine, a threat in the box, and brings solid coverage abilities to the table. Personally, I firmly believed that with a strong season in 2020-21 he could have been a candidate as a top 5 pick. Instead, Micah chose to opt-out for the greater good of his child and the rest of his family. So, Micah will now turn his attentions to training for the NFL Draft, where he will still be picked early with solid combine and pro day showings.

Just How Good Is Micah?

Micah has been an absolute beast since showing up to University Park. In his freshman year, Micah put up pretty solid numbers with 82 tackles, 4.0 TFLs, 1.5 sacks, and 2 Forced Fumbles. Micah’s biggest gain from that season was his experience on the field and the knowledge he gained on how to develop further as a linebacker who can do it all. Then, last season, he EXPLODED.

Micah had 109 tackles, 14 TFLs, 5 sacks, 4 Forced Fumbles, and 2 Fumble Recoveries. He finished 3rd in the Big Ten in tackles, 6th in Solo tackles, 2nd in assists and 10th in TFLs. He was highly regarded, but his performance in the Cotton Bowl launched him to superstardom. Parsons ended up with a stat line of 14 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 3 TFLs, and 2 forced fumbles. Parsons blew the college football world away and has already solidified himself as a future star in the NFL.

How Micah Could Fit With The Jets

Micah Parsons is the kind of player who could be the captain of the defense for the next 15 years. As a linebacker hybrid, he would add a similar value to what Jamal Adams brought to the team. Micah would be a building block as a leader for the long term. It would also make the possibility of moving C.J. Mosley a lot more feasible. The Jets would be able to free a load of cap and have a future leader with the Parsons move.

Obviously, a lot of things would need to fall the right way for Micah to be wearing the Green and White, but hypothetically, he could make sense in the organization. My only worry with any future defensive piece is he may overplay his contract worth, and the team may continue to flounder, and the Jets would have another Jamal situation on their hands.