New York Jets: Who should replace Gregg Williams at defensive coordinator?

New York Jets, Gregg Williams

The New York Jets defense currently looks lifeless for a number of reasons. The biggest two, though, are coaching and lack of talented personnel. The primary excuse to this point has been, “the defense cannot get off the field” when in actuality, the Jets’ time of possession is only on average of five minutes or so less than their opponents. They fail to control the ball, which is true, but the team is so poorly coached; it is laughable.

With budding turmoil between head coach Adam Gase and Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams, it is not a long shot to think that Williams could be axed soon, with Gase following eventually. Williams has regressed mightily this year, likely due to the talent drop-off and the poor leadership from Gase, Still, as the rift widens between the two, I decided to pinpoint one guy who makes sense to replace Williams as soon as possible.

Dennard Wilson Deserves A Shot

Dennard Wilson had a fairly impressive college football career at the University of Maryland. Wilson was a dynamic piece of the Terrapins secondary, playing in 42 games with 30 starts. In his senior year, he played well enough to earn an honorable All-ACC Mention and eventually a contract from the Washington Football Team. Unfortunately, a season-ending injury wrecked his pro career, but he quickly found his niche as a coach.

Fast forward to 2017, Wilson was brought on to be the defensive backs coach under Todd Bowles and the Jets. Wilson impressed so highly in his first year that he kept a job despite the coaching turnover. As of this season as well, Wilson even earned a promotion to Passing Game Coordinator/ DBs Coach. Wilson has quickly ascended the coaching ranks, and at 38, has made a name for himself in the NFL.

Despite having one of the least talented secondaries in the league, last season, the secondary was able to display potential with pieces like Brian Poole and Bless Austin earning long-term roles. Then this season, the team has improved its amount of turnovers and rotated in young corners to see what they are made of. The success of guys like Austin, UDFA Lamar Jackson, and Brian Poole can be attributed to the hands-on approach used by Wilson.

His coaching has led him to keep his job, and he evidently deserves a shot to prove himself as a coordinator. To put it frankly, Williams deserves a shot to go work under a competent young head coach, a la, Wade Phillips in LA. As for Wilson, the potential coaching ascension possibilities for him would be plentiful if he had success. He could remain on the staff as the coordinator if another head coach didn’t want to bring in his own guy or if the coach/organization sees potential in him. Not only that, but he could earn a potentially better opportunity as a coordinator elsewhere, or even as a head coach in New York if he does THAT good. The opportunities are endless, and the Jets should seize the opportunity to lessen the organizational dissension by axing Williams and giving Wilson a shot as the Defensive Coordinator.

3 moves the New York Jets should make right now

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The New York Jets are a floundering mess, and if you’ve watched the inept in every category this season, you know that. One look at their 0-7 record shows change is desperately needed for the organization. We all would love to take the reigns of this mess and try to put the team back on the right tracks, but in this scenario, I made three moves that would immediately benefit the team.

Trade Avery Willamson

This is a move I was very against prior to the season, but now the move makes a lot of sense. Well, the team won’t fetch a lot for Willamson, the team is not competitive right now, and they should give the opportunity to younger guys to step up in Willamson’s absence.

Not to mention, Willamson has been an avid critic of how poorly the team has been practicing, which was likely viewed as defiance from Adam Gase. Mix in the fact that Willamson himself deserves a shot to play with a competitive team, so this is a move that would not be a bad idea. Pittsburgh just lost Devin Bush for the year, so Williamson could fit there among other potential spots. I would expect the compensation to be in the later rounds, but those are the picks Joe Douglas loves.

Willamson is still a fan favorite, but if he ends up elsewhere, it would be best for both parties. The Jets could look to other players as trade assets as well, but Willamson is the first guy I would set to trade based on how much value he brings.

Fire Adam Gase

So, this is the obvious move we would all make if we could. I want to preface this by saying that Adam Gase may be utterly incompetent, stubborn, unimaginative, and undisciplined. Yet despite those flaws and the many others, Gase has somehow got himself this job and likely will keep it at least a few more weeks.

At 0-7, this team is not playing for anything, but at least if they fired Gase, they could audition a prospective head coach and not who you would think. I will get to that in a second, but this move would at least revitalize the team and finally allow Douglas to build the franchise the way he would like without the tight reigns of Gase.

Coaching Re-alignment

I would immediately make a few key coaching changes if given the shot. I would promote Dowell Loggains to the lead offensive play-caller for the remainder of the season, contingent on two more good games.

If the offense continues to look lifeless, then I would choose RB Coach Jim Bob Cooter to take over due to his coordinating past in Detroit. As for the defensive side of the ball, I would like to see Gregg Williams ousted with Gase, but if he were to remain, then the team needs to give Dennard Wilson a promotion. He should earn more responsibilities to see if he has potential as a coordinator in his own right.

If Williams were fired, then I would make Wilson the DC immediately. So, I have not named an interim head coach. Those honors would be placed upon the shoulders of Current Special Teams Coordinator Brant Boyer. Boyer is the only other fixture in the organization who has been here for more than three years. Boyer has resurrected special teams in New York, but more importantly, he has shown discipline. In brief glimpses of his character, he would fit the type of structure Douglas would seemingly want. Boyer may not be the guy, but for at least the last couple of games, I’d love for him to get a shot at what he can prove.

New York Jets Game Preview Week 6: Miami Dolphins

The New York Jets begin the post-Le’Veon Bell era on Sunday in South Beach, engaging in a rescheduled match with the Dolphins.

What: New York Jets at Miami Dolphins
Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, FL
When: Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET
Watch: CBS

Back in September, the New York Jets expected to have Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell, among others, for an October 18 showdown with the Los Angeles Chargers. Now that the day has finally come, Darnold is hurt, Bell has been released, and even their opponent was shifted due to the ongoing health crisis’s impact on the NFL.

The Jets nonetheless press on, as Jets head coach Adam Gase returns to his former site of employment through a matchup against the Miami Dolphins. This matchup was originally scheduled for November 15, but that now serves as the Jets’ bye. The aforementioned visit to Los Angeles now comes on November 22.

“We’ve got to play somebody, so it doesn’t affect me,” linebacker Avery Williamson said of the switch, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “It shouldn’t affect anybody.”

New York (0-5) is coming off a 30-10 defeat at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Joe Flacco threw for 195 yards and a touchdown in his first start in place of the injured Darnold, with the score and 116 yards of his tally going to Jamison Crowder. The slot receiver reached triple figures in receiving for the third time this season, currently pacing the Jets with 335 yards over his trio of games. Arizona relentlessly countered with 411 yards of offense from Kyler Murray, who was also responsible for two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins (2-3) are coming off a dominant upset win in San Francisco, drubbing the 49ers by a 43-17 final. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for 350 yards and three scores, each of which went to a different receiver. Miami defenders also united for five sacks of San Francisco quarterbacks.

The Series

The Jets and Dolphins will continue a series that has been staged twice yearly since Miami’s inception in 1966. New York maintained their lead in the series, currently up 55-53-1, by snapping a four-game losing streak in the series through a 22-21 decision at MetLife Stadium last December. Miami had won six of the past seven entering that game, which was decided by a Sam Ficken field goal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3yeTlz4TbnE&ab_channel=NFL

History Happens: 2015

The Jets’ last sweep of the Dolphins came in 2015, starting with a 27-14 triumph in London. Part of the NFL’s International Series, the Jets jumped out to an early lead thanks to Chris Ivory’s score on their opening drive. Ivory would go onto run for a career-best 166 yards, while the aforementioned Fitzpatrick would find Eric Decker from 10 yards just before the halftime gun to build a 20-7 lead at intermission. Stoppage time wasn’t required for the Jets to finish their British masterpiece. Zac Stacy scored another touchdown, while Darrelle Revis and Marcus Williams each earned an interception. Brandon Marshall paced the Jets with 128 receiving yards, while Muhammad Wilkerson had two sacks of Ryan Tannehill.

They Said It

“When you lose, the week is long. It’s long and it’s painful, because if you put the amount of time and effort that everybody in this building has, really since the offseason, doing everything virtually and then coming back and trying to figure out how training camp was going to go…It’s the constant talking to these guys, whether it be at practice or in a team meeting or offense and defense split up. Just keep the reminders of, ‘Hey, this is how we can get things flipped around. This is how we can improve. This is what we can do to help our team on this side of the ball.’ And that’s a conversation that’s definitely been had the last couple weeks.”-Adam Gase on the state of the 0-5 Jets, per Brian Costello

“Winning last week was a good start, but we’ve got to take care of business this week, then we’ve got a bye,” Dolphins center Ted Karras said. “I’m having a lot of fun. I love all the guys on this team. It’s been a great start to the year. Obviously, we left a few things out in a couple of the early games, but we’re going to continue to work our hardest and prepare and then go out there on Sundays. That’s the only way to turn any tide, is to go out there and perform your best on Sunday, so that’s what I’m focused on every day.”-Dolphins center Ted Karras, per Adam H. Beasley

Matchup to Watch

Jets Pass Defense vs. Ryan Fitzpatrick

Ah, Ryan Fitzpatrick…ruining your favorite team’s draft position since 2005.

That truly shouldn’t be held against Fitzpatrick, who has carved a respectable NFL career since his seventh-round drafting out of Harvard (did you know he went there?). It has become a bit of an NFL tradition for a team to bring in Fitzpatrick as a placeholder quarterback, only to see him post strong numbers that make it difficult to move on from him. The Jets certainly know what that’s like, having seen Fitzpatrick throw a team-record 31 touchdown passes during the aforementioned 2015 campaign after filling in for the incapacitated Geno Smith.

Fitzpatrick took over placeholder duties last season and performed respectably. This year, he was expected to keep Tua Tagovailoa’s seat warm, but, once again, he’s making it hard to pull off the transition. Fitzpatrick has completed a career-best 70 percent of his passes thus far and has earned triple digits in passer rating three times (including 154.5 in San Francisco last weekend). He has done so with his top receivers being DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki…the former of whom was a pupil of Gase’s during their time in Miami together.

Like several others, Parker has seemed to improve since Gase moved on. It’ll be up to the Jets defense to not only attack Fitzpatrick but to harass his receivers. If the Jets can make Miami think of Tagovailoa for any stretch on Sunday, they’ll have done something right.

The Jets Will Win If…

Their defense takes care of the offense.

To say the Jets’ offense is in a period of transition would be the understatement of this topsy-turvy year. They could get Breshad Perriman back, but Darnold is still out and Bell isn’t coming back, giving way to Flacco, Frank Gore, and La’Mical Perine. Keeping Miami at bay is a duty that will fall to the defense…one that doesn’t sound too pleased by the way things around going.

“It’s not a very good number, and a lot of it’s not all defensively,” defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said on Friday, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “It’s points on the board and we’ve got to do a good job of that, and how you do that is make them kick more field goals, got to do a better job in field-position-type things. As you see, the scoring is up in the league, but it still makes me sick.”

Reeling and in the midst of a rebuilding purge brought upon by Bell’s release, the Jets need to put their differences aside if they’re going to band together for a much-needed victory.

The Dolphins Will Win If…

They take advantage of a trap game opponent down in the dumps.

Crazy things tend to happen in divisional matchups. Last season, the 0-7 Dolphins earned their first win against the Jets, kickstarting a strong finish to end the year and generating some buzz around head coach Brian Flores (Miami is 7-7 since that November meeting, with four of the defeats coming by 10 points or less). In the premature playoff picture, the Dolphins are one game out of the extra spot with their bye week coming next week. A perilous trek aways the Dolphins in the immediate aftermath (both LA teams sandwich Arizona).

No one could fault the Dolphins if they missed out on the playoffs this year, but it’d certainly be an inspiring sign if the team was ahead of schedule in year two under Flores. If Miami has any hopes of breaking into the postseason picture this year, Sunday is more or less a must-win.

Prediction

You’d be hard-pressed to find another game for the Jets to win on their current schedule, at least in the near future. But, once again, a win appears to be simply too much to ask for from this squad in squalor. The post-Bell era will start the way the rusher’s New York tenure began and ended…with a loss.

Dolphins 23, Jets 13

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Le’Veon Bell: The wrong man to open the purge of the New York Jets

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

Necessary changes are coming to the New York Jets. Bidding Le’Veon Bell farewell, while merciful, wasn’t the right way to start them.

In the 2001 children’s picture Monsters Inc., a monster armed with the voice of Brooklyn native Steve Buscemi tells a one-eyed green creature voiced by The Bronx-raised Billy Crystal to be wary of “the winds of change“.

Another green monstrosity felt them blow on Tuesday night.

As professional football fans enjoyed a rare excursion on the second day of the week, the Jets opted to end Le’Veon Bell’s New York journey after 17 games, 863 rushing yards, $27 million in guaranteed money, and countless rumored feuds with head coach Adam Gase. Bell joined the Jets on a four-year deal during the 2019 offseason.

The Jets’ perpetual rebuild has somehow fallen into a deep abyss, one that has them at 0-5 (the losses coming by an average margin of over two touchdowns) and on a collision course with NFL infamy. Combine that with a plethora of free agents on the horizon and the mere thought of keeping the status quo would be lunacy. But for Bell’s status as the modern Jets’ first sacrifice to the football gods is a slap in the face to successful gridiron reboots and rebuilds everywhere.

Granted, Bell’s four-year, $52.5 million contract will likely go down in the same sentence as the deals bestowed to expensive, unproductive endeavors like Trumaine Johnson and Neil O’Donnell. Should Bell return to the elite form displayed in Pittsburgh, his image in green can probably be stored in the same folder as photos of Randy Moss in the Oakland Raiders’ colors.

But what the Jets’ latest transaction shows is a dedication to a regime that’s not working.

For as much as Bell floundered in New York, his 17 games in green don’t take away his glory days between 2013 and 2017 in Pittsburgh, ones that saw him finish third in the NFL in rushing yards in that span. But Bell is a rare New York representative that knows about success at the highest level in football. That’s also why Frank Gore, who is set to take over the top rushing duties in the Jets’ backfield, is still valuable at 37 years old. But the Jets now have the audacity to turn down the services of a top player still lingering in his prime while unproven names continue to steer the franchise ship.

Irony was perhaps best defined on Tuesday night by the fact that Gase, careening toward Rich Kotite status, remains employed by the same Jets team that granted Bell his walking papers. Further ironic hijinks also came from a rare sanctioned NFL game on Tuesday as well. As Bell was let go, a former Gase pupil helped move his team to 4-0 by guiding them to four touchdowns. That player, Tennessee Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill, was subjected to countless “make-or-break” seasons under Gase’s watch in Miami. He has since established himself as the franchise quarterback for a Titans squad living up to the hype of their AFC title game appearance last season (when they’re not dealing with the ongoing health crisis, that is).

 (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

The release of Bell thus sets a troubling precedent: the Jets appear all too willing to commit to a regime that’s only trending downward.

Tannehill isn’t even the only former practitioner of a Gase offense to find success elsewhere. Robby Anderson, for example, only spent a year under him but is on pace for career-best numbers in Carolina. Kenyan Drake has emerged as a security blanket for Kyler Murray in Arizona. If the Jets aren’t careful, more of their fleeting silver linings could venture out for greener pastures (oh, you know what we mean).

Under Gase, the Jets have lost some of their best, most recognizable players. Guys on a team desperate silver linings perhaps look at the Bell news and can’t help but think that they’re next. For example, if the Jets are willing to part ways with a proven, expensive talent like Bell, and allow Gase’s tenure to continue, who’s to say Sam Darnold, whose NFL journey is rife with uncertainty, isn’t next?

It’s not even guys on the current roster that might be most concerning. The Jets are blessed with strong cap space in time for the 2021 offseason. But what big-name free agent in their right mind is going to look at Bell’s tumultuous time in New York and declare “yeah…I want in on that”? It’s the type of move that’s going to have a ripple effect across several years…only this time, the waves could well sink the Jets further into the abyss.

The arrival of Gase and his staff wasn’t going to lead to wins immediately. Even with Tom Brady’s highly-publicized departure from the AFC East and expanded wild card capital, asking the Jets to reach the 2020 playoffs was going to be a tall task. But the 2020 season, one that gets no easier with a rescheduled visit to Miami on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS), has instead become one long vote of confidence to a staff that’s in over their heads and dragging the players down with them.

General manager Joe Douglas has a bit of a longer leash in this process. After all, it wasn’t he who added Bell, that honor instead going to Mike Maccagnan, one the latters final decisions before a most unusual firing after the draft. But Gase and company have to be on thin ice. His offensive ranking are at or near the NFL’s nadir. Promising prospects have regressed while others have been forced to wallow in obscurity. For example, the Jets appeared to have high hopes for fourth-round La’Mical Perine, and an opportunity appeared to open when Bell went down with an injury in Week 1. Carries instead when to the 37-year-old Gore, whose status beyond 2020 was always in question after inking a one-year deal this offseason.

New York Jets, Adam Gase

With the exception of the Jets improbable 6-2 finish to cap off the 2019 season, mostly earned against teams that were either resting players or were somehow more lost than they were, Gase and his staff have instill little hope in building anything successful, other than their case for the top overall draft pick next spring. Fans immediately came to adore the brash Gregg Williams in the defensive coordinator spot, but his unit has been equally guilty, as his unit ranks 25th in total defense this season.

Yet, it feels like the entire Gase era has been one long extension of a vote of confidence. It happened at his introduction, it happened when the Jets started off 1-7 last season, it continues to happen as 2020 continues to present more horrifying surprises.

The playoffs are obviously long removed from any form of New York football conversation. But the last 11-12 weeks of the season may mean everything to the Jets’ on-field representatives. Time will only tell how long the Gase experiment is allowed to continue, but some of these players could be playing for their football livelihoods, whether it’s with the Jets or elsewhere. If anything, it provides meaning to otherwise meaningless contests, starting with the adjusted matchup against the Dolphins on Sunday.

After all, if Le’Veon Bell isn’t safe in this system…how can they be?

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Something has to change as layoff looms large

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The New York Jets are reportedly retaining Adam Gase. That shouldn’t stop them from making changes to prevent further embarrassment.

Providing a watchable primetime game for the football-loving masses doesn’t earn you any postseason real estate in the National Football League, but it apparently allows you to keep a tenuous grasp on a head coaching position.

Thursday night entertainment and competency wasn’t enough for the New York Jets to earn a victory, as they fell 37-28 to the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium. The Jets (0-4) did tally a season-high in scoring and even led for the first time in 2020. But when the endgame remains defeat at the hands of a Denver squad trotting out a third-string quarterback and missing its playmakers, it’s hard to glean out any positives.

Despite this, the overseer of this winless operation, Adam Gase, isn’t going anywhere. Connor Hughes of The Athletic has revealed that Gase is not only secure through the upcoming ten-day layoff the Jets before an October 11 tilt against Arizona (1 p.m. ET, Fox) but that “the plan is for (Gase) to remain the team’s coach throughout the season, barring any dramatic circumstances that would make a change unavoidable”.

New York may have already reached such a point, but there’s no use arguing it. Gase’s seat has been warm since he opened his green office. Only a phantom 6-2 stretch, mostly earned against hopeless or resting teams, has lowered the temperature, and that might as well have happened a decade ago. The Jets, though, have appeared to hitch their wagon to the Gase truck and there’s no turning back. Star-crossed as their history may be, the Jets are a team that has mostly avoided the in-season firing. Charley Winner was the last example all the way back in 1974.

But if Gase isn’t going, someone has to respond for this.

When one looks at the modern Jets, there’s certainly room for potential. But, should that potential be recognized, has anyone earned the right to stick around for those hypothetical (for now) glory days? Can there even be glory days with this unit and this core? Other than Jamison Crowder and Sam Ficken, which veterans on this team can accurately say they’re in a better situation than they were in last season?

Be it a coach, be it a player, someone has to be held accountable in this early going.

The likely, more efficient, spot to make a change in the coaching staff. A macabre gift offered to the Jets in their de facto state of early elimination is that players have a dozen consequence-free opportunities to play for their jobs. Good, strong efforts on the field can be the difference between playing in the NFL…be it in New York or elsewhere…and waiting for an opportunity in Dwayne Johnson’s XFL in 2022…be it in New York or elsewhere.

But this coaching staff is not granting the Jets’ representatives the opportunity to do so. It’s one thing to post losing records but to look respectable doing it…that’s what the 2017 squad was doing under Josh McCown (5-8 as a starter with all but two losses by a single digit). But to repeatedly make no adjustments and constantly chalk deficiencies up to execution isn’t working.

Improvisation from Sam Darnold contributed to a good portion of the offensive output, including the 46-yard run to glory that dropped the jaws of football fans everywhere. With Le’Veon Bell out, Gase and his offensive staff have opted to leave a majority of his duties…and others…into the 37-year-old legs of Frank Gore, rather than testing the mettle of fourth-round pick La’Mical Perine. With the outcome decided after a Melvin Gordon-induced dagger, the Jets nonetheless engaged in unnecessary, dangerous extracurriculars, (the last of six personal foul penalties worth 15 yards each) ones that certainly look suspect when one looks like a Gregg Williams’ past (namely the New Orleans chapters). Gase has been lauded as an “offensive genius” by team CEO Christopher Johnson, but one view of Ryan Tannehill’s highlights from Tennessee, free from the Miami-induced purgatory of Gase and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains serves as a visual aid against description.

Even in defeat, the Jets aren’t being set up for success. There’s such a thing as a “good loss”…rebuilding teams thrive on such moral victories…but the Jets can’t even get those.

The next ten days could change the course of several careers. Wins in a brutal stretch (the Chargers, Bills, and Super Bowl champion Chiefs and Patriots immediately loom after the upstart Cardinals) are probably going to very hard to come by, but development can still be made. Personal growth can be attained. Wins, proverbial and personal, is there for the taking.

But that’s not going to come if the MetLife Stadium sidelines ten days from now is a duplicate of Thursday night.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

3 storylines to watch in Denver Broncos Vs New York Jets matchup

The New York Jets (0-3) will take on the Denver Broncos (0-3) in tonight’s game. The game was one I was eager to see prior to the season. I hoped the headlines would be all about Drew Lock vs Sam Darnold or about how the Jets improved defense would handle the Broncos young and talented offense. Instead, we have Brett Rypien at the helm of a banged-up Broncos team and the Jets fighting for any shred of respect they could salvage this season. Here are the things I am watching for in the battle of two of the worst AFC teams to this point.

Adam Gase’s Funeral?

After the Jets got embarrassed this past Sunday in Indianapolis, the heat beneath Adam Gase’s seat became flames. Rumors have swirled all week from Colin Cowherd, Chris Mortensen, and many other top insiders that this could be the end of the road for Gase if the team is blown out. The consensus is, the team needs to implode for Gase to be ousted. The Broncos would need to perform similarly to the 49ers in Week 2 for Gase to go. The odds are in Gase’s favor to still be the coach of this team come Friday morning, but the Jets are wearing all black tomorrow night, so maybe this could be Gase’s New York Jet funeral.

Brett Rypien’s First Career Start

Rypien starting tonight brings me back to the game the Jets played when Luke Falk stepped in on Thursday night last year. Rypien was a practice squad fixture until just a week ago, but after going 8/9 for 53 yards and a pick in the end zone, he will get a shot to run the offense, at least to start, tonight. Broncos coach Vic Fangio has said he will see a role where Jeff Driskel gets work as well. Last year the Jets preyed on weak QBs like Dwayne Haskins Jr., Matt Barkley, and Devlin Hodges. Although this Jets defense is a shell of what it was last year, Gregg Williams is still here, and he knows how to make young QBs uncomfortable. The Broncos have also allowed 13 sacks, which stands as the second-most in the league. The Jets could look to make this a really rough debut for the nephew of former NFL vet Mark Rypien.

Sam Darnold Needs To Rebound

The Jets offense floundered last weekend, but particularly so did Sam Darnold. With three interceptions, Sam Played one of his worst pro games. Tonight though, he gets a returning Jamison Crowder along with a budding connection with Braxton Berrios. Darnold needs to come out swinging tonight; Gase needs to let him run around and sling it. He needs to get rid of the receiver screens and take some shots downfield. They need to open up the playbook because win or loss, the most paramount issue is getting Darnold some momentum back.

New York Jets Position Group Grades: Defensive Line

New York Jets, Quinnen Williams

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 that is full of talent from top to bottom. From vets to high potential young pieces, this group is not about the individuals but rather the collective unit itself. Gregg Williams is a mastermind in defensive line rotations, and that showed last season. With one of the top rushing defenses in all of football, this group will be graded as a unit rather than as individual pieces. So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the defensive line.

The Starters: Steve McLendon (NT), Henry Anderson & Quinnen Williams

The New York Jets have one key leader up front. Steve McLendon has been a consistent captain and leader in the Jets locker room. His presence is felt on the field as a run stuffer and a consistent force up the middle. He’s one of the most consistent nose tackles in the league, and I expect that to continue this season. Henry Anderson had a breakout season after being acquired from the Colts two years ago. Now, this could very well be his last season donning the green and white. Last season was a quiet year for Anderson, and if he can’t establish more of a presence, he will have a lessened role quickly. Quinnen Williams is the key x-factor of this front seven as a whole. Williams is no longer the baby he was in his first year. Williams looks more athletic and sounds more confident. He had a great camp, and I’m expecting a breakout year from the former 3rd overall selection.

Backups: John Franklin-Myers, Folorunso Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, Kyle Phillips, and Jordan Willis.

This group is one that is crucial to the defensive line’s success as a whole. All five guys are expected to play a role in the rotation immediately. Myers had an impressive camp and earned a roster spot, so it’ll be intriguing to see what kind of role he has early. Fatukasi and Phillips are two starting-caliber linemen who had phenomenal years last year. Both men established themselves as two of the most talented young pieces on the defense. Fatukasi is the likely successor to McLendon and Phillips to Anderson. Both guys will look to continue their success in 2020. Shepherd was a highly touted selection from Canada during the former regime’s run. Todd Bowles could never really find a role with him, but the same can’t be said about Williams. Shepherd has role fairly quickly as a rotational end, and I expect him to continue to grow in that spot in 2020. Willis is in a similar spot to Phillips last year, where he will need a strong season to earn a spot in the rotation, but that’s entirely plausible.

Grade: A

As I’ve said, individually, I’m not going to rave about any one piece of the puzzle. When put together, though, with the magic of Williams, this unit is incredibly talented. I fully expect them to take a step forward this year with growth from Quinnen, Fatukasi, and Phillips. I ultimately believe those three will be the key pieces of this line for the next few years. I’m excited for this group, and I’m glad that this is the one group I’ll probably give an A to of all the groups in New York.

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

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, James Morgan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

The Good and The Bad of New York Jets First Scrimmage

New York Jets, Nate Hairston

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

The Good

Frank Gore

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

LaMical Perine

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

Mike White and James Morgan

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

Ashtyn Davis

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

The Bad

Turnovers

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

First Team Defense Pressure

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

Injuries

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

Wide Receivers

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

Lev Bell

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

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.