The fire sale continues! The New York Jets have now traded promising edge rusher Jordan Willis to the San Francisco 49ers. The Jets will get back another 2022 6th Round Selection while parting ways with Wllis and a 7th this season.
Willis has only played 42 snaps this season, and was even in active the last three games. Despite that, he has displayed promise. Since being drafted to Cinncinati in 2017, Willis has displayed potential with a total of 52 tackles, 8 TFL’s and 3.0 sacks. This is a move that provides the 49era more depth at a position that has been decimated by injuries this season. As for the Jets, this is only a sign of more to come.
As I previously noted, with some veterans on cheap deals, teams that are willing to part with a mid rounder could entice Joe Douglas. Calling this a full-blown fire sale is still a stretch on my end, but a fire sale would not be an awful idea.
The team would have more draft flexibility and more cap room while also providing some younger players an opportunity to get in game reps. As for the veterans, this lets them out of the awful coaching staff’s grips and gives them a shot to rebuild their stock. With the team continuing to flounder and reportedly, ”Tanking for Trevor”, there is no end in sight to the roster upheaval coming.
Steve McLendon has been a quality veteran piece for the New York Jets since 2016. Coming over from Pittsburgh, he had decently high expectations. Ranked by PFF as one of the most efficient nose tackles in the game, the Jets were looking to gain a reliable piece upfront.
Since then, McClendon has provided that and then some on the field, McClendon has been a formidable piece for the squad. With his last season totaling up 36 tackles, seven QB hits, 10 TFL’s, 2.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery. Not only that, but McClendon has not missed a game since 2017. McClendon is also a vocal leader and someone, the coaching staff, has been immensely complimentary of.
Per Jim Stroud, McLendon has been traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he reunites with former Jets had Coach Todd Bowles. In his last season with Bowles, McClendon had 3.5 sacks, 7TFL’s, a forced fumble, and 28 tackles. McClendon adds a veteran presents upfront to an already stout buccaneer defense.
As for the Jets, this is a sign of full-on rebuild mode. After releasing an offense of leader and playmaker and Le’Veon Bell earlier this week, they now followed it up by trading away a defensive captain in an eye-opening move. With the deadline just a few days away, you’d have to wonder if this is a signal of more to come. With the bulk of the Jets’ top players on short term deals and the team now sitting at 0-6, it would make more sense than not to begin the deconstruction now.
In terms of compensation, the Jets will send a 2023 7th Round selection along with him in order to gain a 2022 6th rounder. At 34 years old, yes, he does provide value, but he was likely not going to fetch anything more than a late rounder. Still, the Jets were able to shed cap, provide young guys opportunities to step up, and earn a role in the future, while also giving McClendon a much-deserved opportunity on a contender.
The New York Jets have had an awful start and will likely be looking for a new head coach this offseason (0-6). With a team in one of the biggest markets in the country, there were undoubtedly going to be rumors spread early. Now, the team already has it’s first rumored coaching candidate in Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell.
Campbell spent a lot of time throughout in different spots through the college ranks despite his quick rise to a head coaching gig. Campbell was a Grad Assistant at Bowling Green before switching between Mount Union, Bowling Green again, and Toledo.
While at Toledo, he was the offensive coordinator before being named head coach at 32 years old. He then led Toledo to a 35-15 record with two Bowl wins. After getting offered the job at Iowa State, Campbell headed to Iowa State to resurrect their program.
After an 11-14 start over the first two seasons, Campbell has coached the team to an 18-12 record. One reason Campbell has drawn the eye of many NFL execs is because of his squad’s impressive development in the 2018 season. The team managed to pull off two massive upsets against #3 Oklahoma and #4 TCU, and wins of that level of magnitude do not go unrecognized. Those kinds of wins show a coach has built such a strong culture in a locker room that they fail to be bogged down by the weight of facing upper-echelon competition.
The Iowa State team has shown so much growth that Campbell is a 2-time Big 12 Coach of the Year recipient. Campbell was asked to interview for the Jets opening in 2018, but he declined.
Now, things could be different. With a well respected general manager in Joe Douglas and an Albert Breer report that he is going to actively pursue Campbell, the potential of the Iowa State coach heading to Florham Park. Campbell would do a number of things. He would bring a fresh, innovative offensive mind to the team while also instilling a respectable culture. Campbell has had immense success to this point, and at 40 years old, his future is very bright. The same cannot be said for the Jets, but with a coach who is respectable and shares the same fresh perspective that Douglas has, it could just have a flickering light.
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).
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.
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?
The New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals are each seeking returns to glory. Arizona showed why they have a major head start on Sunday.
New York Jets fans may think they have it back, but supporters of the Arizona Cardinals have about a half-century headstart if the two sides were to engage in comparing struggles of NFL fandom.
Technically speaking, the Cardinals first came to life as “Morgan Athletic Club” on the South Side of Chicago in 1898…14 years before Arizona was admitted to the Union. The organization that came to become Cardinals first partook in professional competition in 1920, though they’ve struggled to stock their trophy case since then. They mustered only two NFL championships prior to the 1970 merger and have appeared in a single Super Bowl through endeavors in Chicago, St. Louis, and The Grand Canyon State. Unlike the Jets, the Cardinals couldn’t come home with a victory in that visit to the Big Game (though it certainly wasn’t for lack of trying).
Thus, both the Cardinals and Jets are used to the concept of a rebuild. A good number of their quadrennial meetings have been played in the backdrop of such. Sunday’s Week 5 get-together was no exception.
Enough has been written in metropolitan circles about the Jets’ playoff drought, one that’s set to graduate from elementary school at this rate. This latest portion of perpetual reconstruction appeared to provide assurances of a reliable franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold and a well-founded offensive mind in Adam Gase. As the first four weeks had proven, both of those expectations have now only been added to the Jets’ endless list of questions. Darnold was held from the Arizona matchup, leading to Joe Flacco taking his place.
Sunday was perhaps meant to be the first professional meeting between Darnold and his fellow Southern California native, college football legend, and 2018 draftee Josh Rosen. Instead, Rosen and head coach Steve Wilks seem like a distant memory, respectively replaced by NFL sophomores Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury (he of two NFL passes, both with the Jets).
While the Cardinals were the strong favorites in Sunday’s meeting…and the 30-10 final decision in their favor did nothing to dispel that notion…it would be fair to say that, from a team standpoint, both sides had little to lose in whatever kind of season the NFL would be able to wrangle out of 2020. The Jets had to deal with an upstart Buffalo team and the eternal contenders from New England in their division. Arizona’s NFC West brethren have represented the conference in five of the past eight Super Bowls. Missing the playoffs at this point in their respective franchise timelines would be nothing to be upset about.
However, one player showcased just how wide the divide is between the modern incarnations of these star-crossed franchises: Arizona receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Hopkins is used to restoring football entities back to their former state of glory. A breakout sophomore season at Clemson commenced an unprecedented, ongoing streak of success for the Tigers. Once acquired by the Houston Texans, another breakout second-year saw the NFL’s youngest franchise leap from two wins to nine. He went on to oversee what’s been Houston’s most successful endeavors, earning winning season in five of his six campaigns.
A since-fired head coach/general manager (Bill O’Brien) offered Hopkins’ services to a devouring NFL public this offseason. Each of Houston’s 31 competitors had reason to engage in trade talks, but both New York and Arizona had special cases.
The Jets’ approach to the 2020 offseason was an understandable undertaking: find protection for Darnold. For all their shortcomings, the Jets did manage to somewhat succeed in that regard, mostly through the drafting of Mekhi Becton at No. 11 overall. But Darnold’s weaponry remained a question. The Jets let Robby Anderson abscond to Carolina with little resistance and the selection of Becton came with the sacrificial bypassing of several elite receiving prospects (Henry Ruggs, CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy). With Darnold’s sense of on-field continuity mostly gone…tight end Chris Herndon was the only receiver leftover from his rookie season…the Jets opted to sign December wonder Breshad Perriman, who was finally showcasing his first-round potential in Tampa Bay after an injury to Mike Evans.
They also drafted Baylor playmaker Denzel Mims with their first post-Becton selection, but bringing in a talent like Hopkins could’ve worked wonders, provided a heavenly spark of momentum for a team struggling to light a match. They had the cap space to work with as well, partially boosted by the releases of veterans like Trumaine Johnson and Brian Winters. The Jets also had some extra draft capital to work with as well, the most high-profile addition being a day two choice earned through the Leonard Williams trade.
It was a day two pick that eventually netted Hopkins, but it was Arizona who pounced. In exchange for rusty former fantasy football hero David Johnson, an immediate second-round choice, and a fourth-rounder reserved for next spring, Hopkins joined a mostly homegrown arsenal featuring Christian Kirk, sophomore projects Andy Isabella and KeeSean Johnson..and, of course, the eternal Larry Fitzgerald.
Therein lies the difference between the Jets and Cardinals: Arizona surrounded their franchise catalyst with weaponry that can assist in present and future exploits. The Jets opted to focus solely on the future…without trying to prove anything in the present. Arizona (3-2) is thus blessed with a rebuild that’s ahead of schedule. The might Seahawks and Rams (a combined 9-1) present a major problem, but they’re currently tied with Carolina for the last spot in the premature NFC wild-card picture, bolstered by an opening weekend win over defending Big Game finalists in San Francisco. Meanwhile, the Jets wallow in the NFL’s cellar, morbidly counting down the days until a purge that presumably waiting until the offseason.
That was purely on display on Sunday. Hopkins earned a game-best 131 yards on six receptions, his last being a 37-yard scoring hookup between him and Murray that created the final margin and inexplicably led to an unsuccessful two-point conversion after the Jets invaded the neutral zone on the extra point. Hopkins’ performance shows that not even Gregg Williams’ defense can be exempt from the changes ahead, while also giving the Jets (0-5) an all-too-relevant case of what might’ve been. Neither Perriman nor Mims was available for Sunday’s proceedings, each sidelined due to injuries.
Injuries should never be held against NFL players. Football is a violent game, one that can swipe away fortunes and glory in the blink of an eye, as Dallas Cowboys Dak Prescott tragically found out the hard way in Sunday’s late window. There’s still time for Perriman to live up to the $8 million the Jets are paying him for what’s currently a single year of service and Mims has a lot of time to show that he can be a day two receiving gem. However, Hopkins’ showing in East Rutherford can serve as a bit of reckoning for general manager Joe Douglas as well.
As a relatively late arrival to the proceedings of the Darnold era, Douglas has a bit of a longer leash than some of his green comrades. Hopkins held not only Douglas’ regime accountable, but that of Mike Maccagnan’s as well. For all the negligence Maccagnan displayed on the offensive line, the receiving corps remained famished as well. The four receivers chosen in Maccagnan drafts (Devin Smith, Charone Peake, ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen in 2015-19) earned a combined 47 receptions. None of them are currently in the Jets’ organization and only Smith (a second-round choice in 2015) is still on the outskirts of an NFL roster (Houston’s practice squad).
Douglas has built goodwill in green circles by addressing the blocking woes Maccagnan more or less ignored and netting two first-round picks for a certain star safety that napalmed every bridge he had in New York. But the failure to surround Darnold with weapons could well for the downfall for both of them. Watching Hopkins on MetLife Stadium’s treacherous turf forced one to recall that Douglas addressed rumors of Hopkins and Stefon Diggs (who’s off to a tremendous in Buffalo) with claims of “due diligence” and not having “a ton of discussions with the Texans” (per ESPN’s Rich Cimini).
Maybe acquiring Hopkins would’ve cost the Jets a little too much of their offseason capital. 2020 was never meant to be a playoffs-or-bust season (even in these dark modern times, Christopher Johnson has refused to place a postseason mandate on the beleaguered Gase). But the opportunity for the Jets to take a major step forward has come and gone. No one’s entirely sure when, or even if, the next one’s going to come.
There are many unfortunate occasions that could well come to define the 2020 New York Jets. Watching Hopkins tear up a field he could’ve called his own could be one of the many turning points this team in flux and transition is going to work with.
As the season looms, I decided to take a deep dive into each position group within the organization and grade each group. This offseason, New York Jets GM Joe Douglas devoted both financial resources and draft capital towards improving one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Now, the Jets enter 2020 with a diverse group of both young talent, productive starters, and vets looking to establish themselves. With a lot of high potential guys, stable vets, and some key talent, let’s take a closer look at how this line grades out.
LT: Mekhi Becton
The mountain of a man joined the Jets as the 11th pick in this year’s draft. As part of the core group of top linemen, Becton is already considered to be a potential star. His unique combination of size and athleticism makes him a weapon in the run game. Not only that, but he’s a solid pass blocker. His lack of advancement in terms of detecting pass rush moves is worrisome, but it remains to be seen how ready he is to handle the top pass rushers in the game.
LG: Alex Lewis
Lewis was an aggressive and vocal leader in that offensive line room last year. Now he’s carved out a role on the roster and as a starter. Right now, his health for Sunday is questionable. In the short term, Lewis is classified as an average starter, but a strong season could earn him a long term role in the green and white.
C: Connor McGovern
The prized signing of the offensive line and my favorite new addition is the key man up front. McGovern is one of the most underrated centers in the game. McGovern is one of the least penalized linemen in football and one of the highest quality centers. His veteran presence and skill will add stability at the center of the line and contribute to the cohesiveness of the entire unit.
RG: Greg VanRoten
A lifelong Jet fan will be a starter from day one. VanRoten is just like Lewis. Both want to be here. Are fighting for a job next year and are quality linemen, but not superb. VanRoten is a poor pass blocker and a solid run blocker. If he can just hold his own as a pass blocker and provide stability, that will be a big asset. In the end, my hopes are mid-level for VanRoten this season.
RT: George Fant
Fant is not a crazy talented right tackle. He’s not going to be the reason this unit takes a big step up. However, Fant is built more like a tight end than a lineman. His athleticism is the best of any lineman on this team. His ability to fit into Adam Gase’s scheme and be a lead blocker is something that is a plus for the team. Still, Fant is unproven and the most worrisome of all the starting linemen, and I’m intrigued to see if he develops throughout the season or if the Jets turn elsewhere.
This bench is not one that is loaded with talent. Instead, it’s loaded with guys who have the potential to come in and be an average filler if need be. They’re cheap and young linemen who provide a lot of versatility. Two guys to watch in this bunch are Clark and Edoga. Edoga was a starter in the past and could slot in for Fant if he struggles. The rookie, Clark has the potential to be a long term fixture on this line if given a shot.
This line is still not proven or where it needs to be yet. The lack of in-game reps together is worrisome. Still, the talent is there and the competitive fire. This is a group that could outperform this grade. If they can be improved, they could be the reason this offense takes a massive jump. If they don’t, they could once again be the detriment of the team.
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.
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.
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.
The New York Jets have seen a plethora of talent come and go this offseason. From new signings to exits, to draft picks, to trades, to opt-outs. The Jets’ entire organization has been reshaped in Joe Douglas’s image. It’s only the beginning. That’s why these Jets will decide whether or not the team has success in the upcoming season.
In 2018, Chris Herndon broke onto the scene in a BIG way. Herndon took his rookie year as an opportunity to become a safety net for Sam Darnold. Their relationship blossomed over the season, and he finished the season with 39 receptions for 509 receiving yards and 4 TDs.
Then, Herndon faced a suspension and a foot injury that derailed his 2019 campaign. Now, with the absence of Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, the Jets need a dynamic threat over the middle for Sam Darnold. Looking at another young QB in Lamar Jackson, his go-to target for the bulk of last season was Mark Andrews, in 2018, he put up similar numbers to Herndon.
Andrews finished with 34 receptions for 552 yards and three scores. Andrews then took a massive jump in 2019 when he caught 64 passes for 852 yards and 10 TDs. If you look at his average yards per catch, it’s around an average of 14.3 for his two seasons in the league. So, why is that important, because Herndon is in a similar realm with an average of 12.9 yards per catch.
This is of value because it demonstrates how often these guys are used over the middle. The two are similar pass catchers, and when Lamar had a stable connection with Mark Andrews, it opened everything up.
Having Andrews over the middle provides a safety net for him to take big shots. It also opened up the run game by taking either the middle linebacker or the strong safety out of the picture fairly regularly. This played a factor in the Ravens having one of the best rushing attacks in football history last year.
Now, I’m not saying Herndon is going to do all that for the Jets. What I am saying, though, is looking at the Ravens skill players, there are no big-name receivers, similarly to the Jets. What they did have was excellent game planning based around the pound you in the mouth rushing attack, the mobility of Lamar Jackson, and most importantly, in this case, a reliable tight end over the middle.
The Jets invested a lot of financial resources, and draft picks towards the betterment of the offensive line. Not only that, but they selected LaMical Perine and Frank Gore to back up Le’Veon Bell. All three backs are patient and physical rushers capable of pounding you in the mouth consistently. So with two of the three keys to what the Ravens have going for them potentially fulfilled, that puts a lot of pressure on Herndon to step up. He won’t be alone though; Ryan Griffin, who had an awe-inspiring season last year with the team, will be counted on to step up in two tight end sets and provide veteran leadership to the 24-year-old tight end.
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.