New York Jets: Why Tevin Coleman is the most impactful pick-up yet

The New York Jets have made some intriguing moves this offseason, but none may be more vital than welcoming in Tevin Coleman.

The New York Jets look drastically different than they do from this time last year, but Robert Saleh made things a little more familiar on Wednesday.

Per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Saleh and the Jets are finally tapping into the new head coach’s former potential from his former Bay Area stomping grounds by adding running back Tevin Coleman. The former Indiana Hoosier spent the past two seasons navigating his way through Saleh’s defenses in San Francisco and worked extensively with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, then the 49ers’ passing game coordinator.

After a slow start, the Jets have made several moves to propel themselves in a positive direction this offseason. Carl Lawson should help a slow pass rush while aerial weaponry has been added through Corey Davis and Keelan Cole. Further veteran defensive help has been provided through both Sheldon Rankins and Coleman’s fellow Wednesday signee Vinny Curry.

But, to build toward the vision that Saleh and LaFleur are building towards, the arrival of Coleman might be the biggest move yet.

ESM explains…

The Anti-Bell

After the Le’Veon Bell situation, it’s going to a long, long time before the Jets shell out big bucks for another running back. The offseason surplus might’ve given Joe Douglas and Co. some wiggle room in terms of extra spending, investing high numbers into a running back hasn’t paid off. Of the 10 highest-paid running backs in football last season, only two (Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram) appeared in January’s playoffs. The highest-paid back on the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers was Ronald Jones, who was a sub-$2 million cap hit last season. By the time the Super Bowl trek started, he was sharing carries with in-season find Leonard Fournette.

Coleman’s coming off a year where was the 11th-highest-paid rusher in football. Going into the new year, he’ll be a mere $1.1 million cap hit in a deal where he’ll be eager to reprove his NFL worth. Meanwhile, the Jets get a ridiculously affordable back who has tasted success at the highest levels to headline their revamped rushing game. Coleman gets a chance to take on a new opportunity. On such an affordable deal, it comes at little, maybe even no, risk to the Jets.

Haven’t We Done This Before?

Defying the expectations of many offseason prognosticators, the Jets have opted not to load their roster with free agents from Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur’s old Bay Area stomping grounds. But, if they were to add anyone from the most recent addition of the 49ers, Coleman was likely among their best options. For a team so desperate for offensive weaponry, adding a rusher that can put up numbers on the ground through the air is an absolute must.

When Coleman joined the 49ers, then-San Franciso run game coordinator (now offensive coordinator) Mike McDaniel referred to the rusher’s signing as “Christmas in March”. LaFleur, the Jets’ new offensive boss also stiationed in San Francisco at the time, concurred in that same report on the team’s website.

“He can run and he’s explosive, no doubt. The thing that really sticks out with Tevin is how fearless and physical this guy is. He is a man out there,” LaFleur said. “When you tell him to put his foot in the ground and go north and south, he’s going to do it times 10. It’s every single week. It’s every single down. You’re always getting the same guy. … When we need him to get us a yard, he’s going to get us a yard every single time.”

Coleman wound up getting some big yards in San Francisco’s journey to Super Bowl LIV. Anytime you’re in the same sentence as Jerry Rice is a celebratory cause, especially in a 49ers setting. Coleman joined such hallowed ground by becoming the first Niner since Rice to score four touchdowns in a single game since the legendary No. 80. He also put up 105 yards and two scores in the Divisional round triumph over Minnesota, becoming the first 49er to tally triple digits in a playoff game since Colin Kaepernick in 2014. It’s the type of playmaking the Jets desperately need in an anemic offense.

That Championship Feeling

Inconsequential as it may seem, the Jets could use some championship pedigree in their roster as they seek to get the rebuild back on track. That endeavor was seen on defense through Vinny Curry and continues with Coleman, who also partook in the Atlanta Faclons’ ill-fated visit to Super Bowl LI.

While each member of their returning rushing corps (La’mical Perine, Ty Johnson, the newly re-signed Josh Adams) had flashes of brilliance last season, they lack the experience to truly invoke confidence. Through Coleman, the group now has a championship mentor to work with, someone who has experienced the highs and lows of rushing starterhood.

Relief through Coleman also comes at the quarterback slot. Whether it’s Zach Wilson, Sam Darnold, or a third party that has yet to present himself, the quarterback can’t be a one-man show in New York. He’s going to need some help he can get to help the offense pick up the pieces after the Adam Gase era. While the Jets still have to make changes on their offensive line (Mekhi Becton notwithstanding), Coleman and the receivers added (Corey Davis/Keelan Cole) will certainly help, but Coleman’s arrival definitely gives the quarterback a sizable safety net. The need for aerial miracles could drastically lower.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Jets add veteran RB Tevin Coleman: How does he fit?

New York Jets potential free agency target Tevin Coleman.

The Jets have added another playmaker on the offensive side of the football. Joining La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams in the backfield next season will be Tevin Coleman. Coleman joins the team on a one-year deal worth $2 million dollars. Coleman played for the Atlanta Falcons for four seasons before inking a deal with San Francisco just two years ago. Now, Coleman, after two seasons with the 49ers, reunites with Mike LaFleur in the Big Apple.

How Does Coleman Fit?

Tevin Coleman is going on 28 years old and joins a group of young backs. Coleman has started games in the past, most notably 14 in 2018. A season where Coleman also had over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and 9 touchdowns. Coleman has had productive seasons in the past, and he joins an offense he has played and thrived in, in the past.

Coleman will be both a good veteran presence in a locker room of young backs by showing them how the system works, but he will also be a weapon on the field. Last season, in the Shanahan offense, Coleman was unable to get going with only 28 carries for 53 yards, totaling up only 1.9 yards per attempt.

Despite those career worsts last season, in his first season with San Fran, Coleman had 137 carries for 544 yards and 6 touchdowns. He also added 180 yards and 3 touchdowns, receiving on 21 receptions. That level of production is something the Jets hope he can get back to in this upcoming season. Ultimately, Coleman will not be a bell-cow back, but in a running back room that is relatively inexperienced, Coleman provides stability.

Not only that, but if the Jets do opt to draft another back into the fold as a bell cow, Coleman can be a great complementary back. Overall the addition is not going to be as headline-grabbing as a trade for a premier back or an attempt to sign someone along the lines of a Leonard Fournette or James Conner, but the move is a low-risk high reward add for Douglas as he looks to fill out the offense with more pieces after a disastrous 2020.

New York Jets: La’Mical Perine backs Sam Darnold as QB

New York Jets, Sam Darnold

Perine, poised to be the New York Jets’ top rushing option, expressed his support for the incumbent quarterback on NFL Network.

New York Jets running back La’Mical Perine appears to have a future in the organization. He hopes the guy who handed him his first NFL carries has one as well.

With calls for Sam Darnold’s departure reaching a bit of a fever pitch with both Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson potentially seeking new homes, Perine put his support behind the incumbent starter when it comes to the team’s future during an appearance on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football.

“No disrespect to any of the quarterbacks within the draft, but I actually had a chance to play with Sam and was able to be in a backfield with him. I know what he brings to a team,” Perine said in a response to co-host Nate Burleson. “He’s a great leader…We’ve just got to put good weapons around him, and he can very well succeed and be one of the top quarterbacks in this league.”

“He’s a great vocal leader, a great guy to be around, competitive and I’m ready to look forward to him,” Perine said. “I hope he’s on our team this year…being my starting quarterback.”

Perine joined the team as a fourth-round pick out of Florida last season, shortly after earning MVP honors in the Gators’ Orange Bowl victory over Virginia. Injuries and a late bout with COVID-19 limited Perine to 10 games, during which he tallied 232 yards on 64 carries, two of which went for a touchdown. With Le’Veon Bell already gone and Frank Gore and Ty Johnson up for free agency, Perine is set to be the Jets’ top returning rusher.

The 120th overall pick of April’s draft praised his chemistry and training with Gore, saying he hopes the fellow Florida collegiate legend dons a reflective green chrome helmet as well.

“Coming into the NFL, you just try to find that routine. A guy who’s played 16 years, he has his routine,” Perine responded to Kim Jones. “I just tried to learn everything I can, whether it’s watching film, watching his routine, seeing how he’s such a great player. Honestly, I can tell why he’s played 16 years in this league, just by the way he takes care of his body, how he moves in day in and day out. I’m hoping he can be on the Jets as well.”

Set to enter his second season, Perine is likewise excited to welcome in head coach Robert Saleh and his new gang of assistants. He addressed the new regime in an opening question from Peter Schrager, recalling their Week 2 showdown with Saleh’s 49ers back in September.

“They had a ton of energy,” Perine recalled. “I feel like he can bring that energy toward the Jets. We need that, that great positive energy to have, to be a successful team this here.”

See the full interview here.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets positional preview 2021: Running backs

How will the New York Jets move on in their rushing situation after Le’Veon Bell? ESM investigates in Part II of its offseason preview.

The Position: Running Back
On the Roster: La’Mical Perine, Ty Johnson
Free Agents: Frank Gore, Josh Adams
Reserve/Future: Pete Guerriero

If you told New York Jets fans this time last year that Le’Veon Bell would be getting ready to play in Super Bowl LV, they would be ecstatic and likely booking their flights and hotels to/in the Tampa area. Alas for the wearers of green, we’re enduring a socially distanced Super Bowl this year that will limit attendance. If Bell plays, he will not represent the Jets, but the Kansas City Chiefs, having been mercifully granted his New York release after 17 games over the last two seasons.

Upon his departure, Bell left behind an aura of uncertainty with the Jets rushing situation…and that can’t be pinned entirely on his release. The Jets had an opportunity to clear up their rushing future with several viable candidates. Fourth-round rookie La’mical Perine was emerging from an early stretch of injuries while the Jets added former Detroit draft pick Ty Johnson off waivers. Joe Douglas’ former Philadelphia disciple Josh Adams was also called up from the practice squad. Alas, New York opted to give most of its rushing opportunities to an aging Frank Gore, who put up a career-low 3.5 yards a carry and never reached the 75-yard plateau.

While Perine (64 carries, 232 yards, 2 scores) struggled to gain traction, missing six games due to injuries and a late positive test for COVID-19, Johnson and Adams took advantage of the little opportunities left. The pair united for 178 yards in a December contest against Las Vegas, with Johnson accounting for the first triple-digit rushing game for a Jets back in over two calendar years.

Free Agents-to-be 

Frank Gore

One can easily respect the brilliant, resilient NFL career of Gore while acknowledging that it’s probably not the best idea to make him your feature back at age 37. But that’s exactly what the Jets tried to do last season, and it didn’t end well. Again, one can’t entirely pin the disaster on Gore, who had a purpose upon his signing. No one was going to quarrel with the veteran Gore coming to New York and serving as a spell option, mentor, and veteran leader, but making him the top back after Bell’s release was ill-advised, especially when the macabre gift of consequence-free football games would’ve allowed the Jets to try something new.

Gore hinted at retirement during the season but left the door open to a 17th season earlier this winter, telling team reporter Jack Bell “I haven’t made a decision yet”. He ended the 2020 campaign as the third-leading rusher in NFL history at exactly 16,000 yards, behind only Emmitt Smith (18,355) and Walter Payton (16,726). Whether he’ll add to that tally remains to be seen, it’s possible additional yardage could be earned in a Jets jersey. Several of Gore’s younger teammates often cited the value of his veteran leadership and the Jets could be getting even younger at some of their most vital positions…i.e. quarterback. Then again, Gore may be better off “ring-chasing” as the Jets seek to make their own luck moving forward.

Josh Adams

After all the drama, someone with the name “J. Adams” actually contributed something positive for the Jets in 2020. Adams previously worked with Douglas as an undrafted rookie during the Eagles’ failed Super Bowl defense in 2018, picking up a team-best 511 yards. One of Douglas’ first moves upon taking the Jets’ GM spot was to pick up Adams after he was a part of Philadelphia’s final camp cuts the following year. Adams played sparingly in his New York debut but led Jets running backs with a 5.4 average carry (albeit on 29 attempts) last season.

Adams’ familiarity with Douglas could potentially work in his favor if he’s interested in a reunion, but he may seek a new destination with more consistent opportunities to avoid getting lost in the fold.

Will They Draft?

Unlikely. The Jets just used a fourth-round choice on Perine last spring. They will likely turn to free agency to find a more established primary option, whether it’s in preparation for someone like Perine or Johnson to take on the role full-time or a longer-term option. It has been a long time since the Jets drafted a running back during the draft’s early portions, their last selection over the first two days coming in 2009 (Shonn Greene), but there are far too many holes to fill to “waste” an early pick on a rusher.

Veteran Possibilities 

Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay

Another future Super Bowl participant, Fournette could work in the same capacity Gore did: serve as a calming veteran prescience that knows how to win. In addition to his upcoming trip to the Big Game, Fournette was also involved in Jacksonville’s surprising trip to the AFC title game in 2018. The true difference from the Gore era would be that Fournette, 26, has proven he can still handle the workload of a top rusher. He has come up particularly big for the Buccaneers during their title run, putting up 313 total yards and scoring a touchdown in each of the three games. 

Malcolm Brown, LA Rams

It’s possible the Jets could go with a rusher-by-committee approach, though they could use an experienced option to head up the group. Brown will likely seek a new opportunity after sharing duties with Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson in Los Angeles. He and Henderson led the Rams in rushing scores with five each.

Kyle Juszcsyk, San Francisco

It has been a while since the Jets experimented with a fullback, their last legitimate project perhaps being Lex Hilliard in 2012. They briefly toyed with tight end Trevon Wesco in the spot but more or less abandoned it when the sophomore dealt with injuries this season. Adding Juszczyk, who would be familiar with Robert Saleh and Mike LaFleur from his San Francisco days, would give the Jets not only a player with winning experience but a goal-line option to go along with his traditional blocking duties. Juszczy, a five-time Pro Bowler, scored a career-best six touchdowns this season, including two in his first multi-score game against Arizona in December.

Outlook

There is certainly plenty of room to get better when it comes to the Jets’ run game, but, for a team that has so many holes, bolstering the unit may take a backseat while they settle some other affairs. Combine that with a relatively weak free agent class (the top overall options may be Fournette, Kenyan Drake, and Todd Gurley) and the Jets’ still recovering from the Bell debacle, it’s difficult to imagine them making too drastic of a movie. There’s certainly potential from the names on the roster right now, but the Jets’ failure to perform extensive research once Bell left could come back to hurt the team in the near future. An opportunity presented itself to check something off the offseason checklist, but they opted to give that opportunity to a potential Gore retirement tour.

 Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

BREAKING: New York Jets RB La’Mical Perine tests positive for COVID-19

New York Jets

The rookie rusher is the Jets’ first player to have a confirmed positive test. Contact tracing is underway.

Per multiple sources, New York Jets running back La’Mical Perine has tested positive for COVID-19 and will be placed on the reserve list. SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano has stated that contact tracing is underway and Gase isn’t sure how many in the organization will be affected. Perine has yet to comment and will be held out of Sunday’s season finale against the New England Patriots (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Perine’s first season ends with 232 yards on 64 carries, two of which went for touchdowns (tying for the team lead in rushing scores). His best output was a 40-yard showing against Buffalo in October, which featured his first career NFL score. He was chosen in the fourth round (120th overall) out of Florida in the fourth round of April’s draft.

[UPDATE: 1:50 p.m. ET]: Per notes from the Jets, head coach Adam Gase (who announced that Perine had tested positive earlier on Wednesday) mentioned that players have mostly been away from the facility due to health regulations, but that contact tracing is underway. Gase also confirmed that Ty Johnson and Josh Adam will be the top running backs for their season finale.

“I don’t think those two guys would be affected by this,” Gase said of Johnson and Adams. “The majority of the guys, I mean the only guys that have been in the building are any guys that have really been injured or doing any kind of rehab and stuff like that.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: La’Mical Perine, Sam Ficken placed on IR

Two major contributors to the New York Jets’ offense have been placed on injured reserve as they’re set to return to MetLife Stadium.

As the New York Jets return to MetLife Stadium to battle the Miami Dolphins on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), they’ll be without two of their biggest scoreboard contributors. The team announced earlier this week that running back La’Mical Perine and kicker Sam Ficken were placed on injured reserve. Perine’s fellow rusher Josh Adams and tight end Ross Travis have been promoted from the practice squad.

Perine suffered a high-ankle sprain during Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, an injury that kept him out of the majority of the second half. A fourth-round pick out of Florida, Perine has been splitting the top rushing duties with Frank Gore since Le’Veon Bell’s release. He has tallied 202 yards on the ground this season, ninth amongst rookie rushers in the NFL. Perine also leads the Jets (0-10) with two rushing touchdowns this season, the latter coming on Sunday in Los Angeles on the Jets’ opening drive.

Ficken had already missed three games this season with a groin injury. Sunday’s date in Los Angeles marked his return, but Ficken missed two extra point in the Jets’ 34-28 defeat. It marred what has otherwise been a strong season for the Penn State alum, who leads the Jets with 35 points tallied this season. The failed extra points were his first misses on scores after touchdowns, while he has also converted 9-of-10 field goal attempts, including a career-long 54 yarder in an October loss to Denver. Sergio Castillo will resume the green kicking duties, having gone 6-of-7 in the previous three Ficken-free games. Castillo previously partook in both CFL and XFL action, earning an All-Star nomination with the former’s BC Lions in 2019.

Adams returns to the Jets’ active roster, having previously partaken in the first two games of the season as a substitute for the injured Perine, scoring a touchdown in their opening weekend loss in Buffalo. He began his NFL career under the watch of current Jets general manager Joe Douglas, having arrived as an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in 2018. The veteran Travis has been on and off the Jets’ practice squad and active roster in each of the past two seasons. He played a handful of snaps in the Jets’ Monday night loss to New England on November 9.

In another roster move, the Jets released quarterback Mike White and immediately signed him to the practice squad, increasing the likelihood of franchise quarterback Sam Darnold returning to the lineup from a shoulder injury.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Emergence of rookies provides incentive for hope and fight

The New York Jets’ draft class is making its way to the field. Their prescience should fuel the team and fans over a trying ten weeks.

Even when adhering to social distancing, autumn in New York…and New Jersey, for that matter…is blessed with enough open space that one has the luxury of choosing Sunday activities beyond football. Sure, it’s a time-honored tradition for many households in the metropolitan area, but with one of their teams seemingly destined for NFL infamy (and the other really isn’t much better), a healthier fall activity is strongly encouraged in these trying times.

After all, why raise your blood pressure? The New York Jets are 0-7, the lone winless team left in the NFL. They probably won’t be favored in any of their final nine games, and a 19.5 line against the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS) somehow seems like if too low. Even if the Jets somehow earn a win, they’ll lose, fall in the endeavor for Trevor (Lawrence) standings. Sure, tuning into the Kansas City showdown might go along with the theme of watching horror movies on Halloween weekend (with Le’Veon Bell perhaps playing the role of the threat back from the dead to wreak havoc), but there have to be better ways to spend one’s time in this area.

Perhaps the most brutal aspect…or merciful, depending on your point of view…of this most recent chapter of the Jets’ perpetual rebuild is the fact that none of these games appear to be truly close, their average margin of defeat coming by three possessions. No one said this was going to be the Jets’ season…even one of the extra wild card berths seemed like far too much to ask for…but they could at least provide hope for the future by giving opponents all they could handle and at least make the quest for the win difficult. Last week’s 18-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills’ might’ve fit the criteria of such a constructive defeat, but the Jets offset any good that might’ve emerged by earning a mere four yards in the second half…a figure made all the more depressing by the fact they earned a 13-yard rush on their first drive of the segment.

But, those who are dedicated to this team, those opt for, need the three-hour escape that is Jets football…salvation may be on the horizon.

The Jets’ final weeks may become football’s ultimate example of “trick or treat”. With this brutal 0-7 ledger, one that has the Jets further from the AFC playoff picture than driving from East Rutherford to Kansas City, a macabre gift arrives in the form of nine free weeks of research and development. Risks can be taken, assessments can be made…all in the name of playing relatively consequence-free football from a team standpoint.

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton
Credit: Joe McManus

It’s time for the Jets to unleash the rookies.

The modern New York draft class is a bit of an uncanny situation for general manager Joe Douglas. Overseeing his second full season with the team, Douglas is still working with his inaugural draft group obtained in April. Adding to the discomfort of the situation was the fact that the general manager was in an awkward position at 11th overall, one that gave the Jets a perfect opportunity to fill one of their most crucial needs: protection for Sam Darnold or get him a receiver. The fact the Jets had that many needs to fill with that single pick just goes to show where they were as a franchise. If Douglas satisfied one need, he would anger supporters of the other. It came to pass that when he opted to use the selection on Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, he passed on several talented receivers, such as Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, and CeeDee Lamb. For all intents and purposes, it seems like Douglas let the right one in with Becton (the same could probably be said about sixth-round punter Braden Mann) and he was able to whet the appetite of the pro-receiver crowd by opening the day two proceedings with the selection of Denzel Mims out of Baylor.

In typical Jets fashion, their 2020 draft class appears to be a star-crossed group, done in by factors both in and beyond their control. Injuries have plagued the class, Becton was controversially inserted into the Jets’ primetime game against Denver despite dealing with a shoulder issue suffered against Indianapolis a week prior. Mims injured both of his hamstrings and missed most of training camp, as did Jabari Zuniga. Even the Jets’ handling of their healthy rookies left something to be desired. With Bell injured and later released, the time seemed perfect to hand over the rushing reigns to touted fourth-round project La’Mical Perine, but the Florida alum has been forced to share carries, and even sit behind, a 37-year-old Frank Gore.

But rookie reinforcements are coming in. It’s time for the youth to revolt. These youngsters, even if it comes merely through the fact they’ve been dealt few snaps than their veteran compatriots, are the least guilty parties in the Jets’ early demise. It’s players like these that will shape the future and will be counted on to lead the potential glory days. Even if these players aren’t the answer, they deserve to at least get a chance to prove otherwise rather than sticking with veterans who clearly aren’t working. T

Such a strategy played in the Jets’ favor last Sunday. With offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains calling plays, Perine and Mims (making his NFL debut) earned extended opportunities. The receiver wound up being the Jets’ top aerial threat (42 yards on four receptions) while Perine (11 carries for 39 yards) wound up scoring the team’s only touchdown. They would unite on that play, as Mims’ crucial block afforded Perine the necessary yardage to give the Jets a short-lived 10-0 lead.

Speaking with Randy Lange of NewYorkJets.com after the game, Perine expressed his excitement in taking the field with fellow premier picks Becton and Mims and seems quite keen for such endeavors to become more regular.

“It was great to see Mims out there just because he hasn’t been out there the whole season, he didn’t have a training camp. For him to be as confident as he was, I wasn’t surprised but it was just good to see. And Mekhi, he’s a great dude, a great player who’s always going to work hard and be the guy he is. They drafted him in the first round for a reason and he’s putting everybody on notice.”

Out of these darkest hours, a golden opportunity has emerged in the form of a silver lining. The Jets must wisely seize it while it’s still on the table.

Hand it off to Perine. Target plays for Mims as much as possible. Run to Becton’s side. Allow Zuniga an opportunity to rush the passer.

Some of these opportunities could well become necessities, as the Jets are dealing with several injuries leading into their dire deposition against Kansas City. For example, Ashtyn Davis could see a bigger role with Bradley McDougald down. It’s an opportunity that head coach Adam Gase has noticed. Developing talent in the rookie class could well be the last chance Gase has to truly save his position, if he’s not too far gone as is.

“I know (Douglas) is excited to see these guys play,” Gase said this week, per Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “We’ve been waiting. I think we were one week where it was like Perine might have been the only guy that was available, and that’s frustrating because we really like this draft class and we feel like these guys can help us a lot. For us to have injuries or whatever it’s been at the beginning of the year, to get all these guys out there that’s a step in the right direction.”

The Jets season, or what’s left of it, is going to be a draft no matter what lies ahead. One of the few ways to prevent this endeavor from truly becoming a waste is to prepare for the future…in the dreary present.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Four plays that decided the New York Jets’ Sunday fate vs. Buffalo

The New York Jets actually held a brief two-possession lead on the Buffalo Bills, but the normalcy of defeat followed soon after.

Usually, three-pointers haunt New York’s trio of professional basketball franchises. This time around, however, one of their football teams ended up on the wrong side of a showcase of triples, namely six from Tyler Bass.

The Buffalo Bills’ rookie kicker converted 6-of-8 field goal attempts on Sunday afternoon, leading a comeback effort over the winless Jets. It negated what was probably the Jets’ most consistent half of the season from an offensive standpoint. They tallied 186 yards and 10 points over the first 30 minutes but only four yards in total over the latter half. Buffalo prevailed by an 18-10 final. Sam Darnold threw for 120 yards and had two passes intercepted in his return from injury, while La’Mical Perine scored his first career NFL touchdown.

ESM looks back on the Jets’ latest loss, grabbing a play from each Sunday quarter that, for better or worse, that shaped their past, present, and future of their team…

1st Quarter: Sack Attack

At first glance, it’s hard to truly hate what the Jets (0-7) were able to accomplish on their opening drive. They were able to enjoy a 29-yard field from former CFL and XFL participant Sergio Castillo to give them a rare early lead. But it could’ve been so much more from a New York standpoint.

In his first drive back from the injury-induced absence, Darnold led a swift, methodical drive, situating the Jets at the Buffalo 17. However, the Bills’ defense gave him a cruel welcome back in the form of a shared sack between A.J. Epenesa and Trent Murphy. The seven-yard loss more or less killed New York momentum before it could truly return, a pair of short passes failed to erase the damage and a Buffalo penalty couldn’t even help matters at a five-yard charge. Not only did it forced the Jets to end a relatively successful drive with a mere Castillo triple, but it was a foreboding warning of things to come. Darnold would go on to be sacked six times over the course of the afternoon.

2nd Quarter: Misplaced Faith

The Jets’ propensity for going for it on fourth down should be somewhat commended. Knowing there’s little, if anything, to lose in this woebegone campaign, New York has taken Bob Dylan’s axiom of “when you ain’t got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose” to heart. The Jets went for it on fourth down 10 times entering Sunday, the fourth-most in the league.

Converting them, however, has been the real challenge.

The Jets converted only two tries in their prior decalogue of attempts, and that number didn’t improve on Sunday. Playcalling has been the main reason behind the lack of success, in yet another recurring problem. Playcalling affairs were turned over to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains for the Buffalo matter, but his shotgun draw to Perine on fourth-and-one…putting the Jets’ first-down plans in jeopardy before they could ever truly begin…left a lot to be desired. Jerry Hughes and Quinton Jefferson invaded the backfield to stop Perine in his tracks, stifling the Jets’ attempt at points. A field goal was going to do the Jets no good with a 3-0 lead…but neither would a shotgun draw.

THat play wound up permanently shifting the game’s momentum. The Jets earned 103 yards over their first two possessions…they gained 87 for the rest of the game.

3rd Quarter: Can You Diggs It?

Defensively, the Jets actually did a decent job in holding Stefon Diggs in check, keeping him at 48 yards on six catches. But he still managed to change the course of the game in the early stages of the third quarter.

Facing third-and-five at the Bills’ 32, the Jets defense had a major opportunity to swipe momentum away. Alas, they couldn’t stop Diggs to the right, as the veteran receiver picked up a crucial 12-yard-gain that kept the Bills’ drive alive. It would lead to a 46-yard field goal from Bass, a triple that narrowed the Jets’ lead to 10-9. Who knows how much things would’ve changed with this simple stop, but it’s safe to say that that play affected the Jets’ mindset for the remainder of the affair.

4th Quarter: Block-Down

For all their shortcomings, the Jets still had an opportunity to push things to overtime, the score at a manageable 18-10 tally thanks to Bass field goals and a strong defensive effort that kept the BIlls out of the end zone. Alas, it wasn’t enough to push the Jets forward for a new opportunity to nab their first win of the season.

Pressure from Buffalo was raised to 11 on the final attempt, swarming Darnold on the first play of the final drive. They picked up 15 yards on a brutal hit on Breshad Perriman by Michah Hyde, but the Bills continued to be relentless, forcing George Fant into a holding penalty just to keep things relatively sane. It was Hughes that wound up rising to the highest of occasions, not only sacking a reeling Darnold but then picking up an interception through the quarterback’s desperation and sealing the Jets’ fate.

Particularly troubling in this game was the return of Mekhi Becton. The rookie had a decent day blocking, but had two penalties, including one that wiped out a 14-yard third-down conversion from Chris Herndon. Becton had one penalty through the first three games of his career.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

The Case for Gase: How the New York Jets head coach can keep his job

New York Jets, Adam Gase

Adam Gase may have the hottest seat in football, but the embattled head coach of the New York Jets might still be able to save his job.

After his team blew yet another strong fourth quarter lead, Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn appeared to sit in the proverbial hottest seat in football.

Adam Gase and the New York Jets appeared to reply “hold our Gatorade”.

Less than two weeks after Gase was labeled an “offensive genius” by team CEO Christopher Johnson, the Jets (0-3) have endured consecutive shellackings by a combined 47-point deficit. The losses have come against a San Francisco 49ers squad missing a good portion of its starters and the Indianapolis Colts, whose ceiling likely resides on wild-card weekend. New York also ranks in the lowest portions of nearly all offensive categories, only raising the temperature on the second-year head coach.

Despite Johnson’s vote of confidence, rumors persist that the Jets may be ready to move on. Fox Sports’ host Colin Cowherd remarked during his Monday show that a source has claimed that Gase is set to be fired should the Jets fall to the Denver Broncos on Thursday night in East Rutherford (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network). The extended break that follows the Denver game only increases the possibility, as if the Jets’ performance over the first three weeks of the season wasn’t enough to convince anyone a change has to be made. Through three weeks, the Jets are the lone team in the NFL to hold a lead at any point this season.

Players have also spoken out against Gase’s practices, though quarterback Sam Darnold has been supportive.

“We’ve been put in great positions to go out there and succeed, to go out there and make plays and execute a game plan that’s put together perfectly for us,’’ Darnold said, per Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post. “It’s just about us going out there and executing. That’s it. I’ve just got to execute the play that’s called.’’

New York has not fired a coach midseason since 1975, when they fired Charley Winner, who was also in the midst of his second season with the team.

The case of Gase may be too far gone, with the trigger fingers of NFL decisionmakers quicker than ever. It took the Arizona Cardinals only a single season to give up on Steve Wilks, for example. A 2016 playoff berth wasn’t enough to give Ben McAdoo a full season when the Jets’ MetLife Stadium co-tenants endured a brutal sophomore season under his watch. Thus, the invisible clock has more than likely start to tick on Gase. If they can’t beat a Denver squad sending Brett Rypien into his first NFL start, midnight will likely chime.

How can Gase stick around? ESM investigates…

Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

No More Gore

It’s admirable what Frank Gore, 37, has been able to do this late in his career. Through three weeks, Gore is second amongst running backs in their 30s with 144 yards (behind only Adrian Peterson in Detroit), though that has mostly come from an unusually high workload in the wake of Le’Veon Bell’s injury. He’s currently averaging a career-low 3.4 yards on 42 carries, 38 of which have come over the last two games.

Gore’s Florham Park prescience has a purpose. The rusher, third all-time in yardage, can still be serviceable as a spell option (1,321 yards with Miami and Buffalo over the past two seasons). A similar journey from rebuild to Super Bowl can also be inspiring to this inexperienced green squad. But Gore is no longer at a level where he can single-handedly turn games on their head. There’s no need to force a 37-year-old back into 19 carries a game, especially when you have a rookie running back that can potentially contribute.

The Jets have high hopes for La’Mical Perine, a fourth-round rushing selection. Formerly of Florida, the freshman is working with a team best 4.1 yards per carry…but, the problem is, he has only had 10 opportunities to date. Gase has continually expressed his desire to get Perine more opportunities, and it appears he’s not alone.

“Perine has been awesome. Super explosive,” Darnold said in a report from Rich Cimini. “He has ‘big play’ written all over him.”

Had we been talking about this a decade ago, sure, Gore could be the man to solve this offensive conundrum. But with this dreadful start offering the cruel silver lining of 13 research and development opportunities…basically preseason games denied by coronavirus…Gase needs to give young players an opportunity to showcase their skills. If things go well, it could work in Gase’s favor in terms of him staying, allowing him to build a rapport with young players.

Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Take a Chance

In the final verse of “Like a Rolling Stone”, arguably his most renowned work, Bob Dylan declared “when you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose”.

It’s highly unlikely that Blind Boy Grunt was prophesizing the status of the 2010s/20s New York Jets, but they can learn something from that line.

Going along with the theme of the research and development silver lining, another macabre gift that the Jets have is that there is little, if any, consequence, to their remaining games. Dead last in the AFC by October’s debut, there’s simply too many teams to leapfrog and too many brutal opponents and performances to even consider the mere idea of the postseason. Thus, they should take advantage of this opportunity.

Kicking field goals down 24-3 in “goal-to-go” situations isn’t the way to do that. But that’s exactly what the Jets did in their home opener against San Francisco.

If the Jets are going to sit in the NFL cellar, the least they can do is be entertaining. By this point, there’s more or less no reason to punt once they cross their own 40-yard-line and facing fourth down with less than six yards to go (sorry, Braden Mann).

Risk-taking could play out in Gase’s favor in more ways than one. Not only could it take the advice of one of his New York predecessors (“You play to win the game!”), but it can give members of a beleaguered offense a chance to showcase their talents and allow them to audition for a role in 2021.

Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Be an Offensive Genius

All it takes to find Johnson’s “offensive genius” comments…well, offensive, is a quick glance at sortable team stats on any football stats sites.

Most of the unit’s rankings are double-digit numbers that start with a “3”…when there are 32 teams in your league, that’s never a good sign. Each of the Jets’ NFL brethren has earned more yards (791), first downs (47), and touchdowns (4) through three games. The Jets have failed to earn 300 yards in any of the opening trio, a borderline impossibility in today’s football landscape. Unless you’re a double-agent from New England, Buffalo, or Miami, nothing about that screams genius.

To save his job, Gase needs to make some progress with a young, developing offense. That starts with Sam Darnold, the franchise quarterback who’s making throws that would be concerning in a rookie season, much less a third campaign. For the first time, there’s legitimate doubt over whether he’s the man of the future for this franchise. Reestablishing that idea will be vital to Gase keeping his spot.

Gase and company are set to gain at least some reinforcements in time for the primetime showdown with the Broncos. Jamison Crowder is expected to be back, while Mekhi Becton’s injury in Indianapolis is not expected to be anything long-term.

New York Jets, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Win

Honestly, the surest cure Gase can provide is that of victory.

The Jets posted a 7-9 ledger last season, earning their best win total since the star-crossed 2015 campaign. Those wins, almost a winning record by modern New York standards (on either side), masked a good part of the 2019 malarkey. It was enough to make many, including the Jets’ decisionmakers, apparently forget about the 1-7 start, none of those in the right column being particularly close. Gase and his comrades too advantage of a weak second half, topping Washington, Oakland, Miami, and their blue MetLife Stadium roommates. The outliers came against Pittsburgh and Buffalo. While the former was somewhat impressive, more or less ending the Steelers’ playoff chances, it came against a pair of backup quarterbacks, as did the season-ending triumph in Orchard Park with the Bills resting starters upon locking up the fifth AFC playoff seed.

Thursday’s game against Denver is the perfect storm: the Broncos come in reeling from injuries of their own. Many had pegged them as a surprise playoff contender, energized by a strong finish from then-rookie Drew Lock. However, Lock’s one of the players down (joining Courtland Sutton, Von Miller, Jurrell Casey, and A.J. Bouye), replaced first by Jeff Driskel and now Brett Rypien, he of his first NFL start…and that’s only because recent signee Blake Bortles isn’t ready. Combine that with the ten days off to prepare with a potential interim boss, and Gase’s Jets are faced with the most morbid kind of must-win.

Realistically, Thursday may be one of the final times casual observers put the Jets in the “favorite” column. November begins with a matchup against the defending champion Kansas City Chiefs, who haven’t lost a step. The Jamal Adams revenge game in Seattle awaits in December. This doesn’t even include the yearly double nightmare against New England.

Winning is going to be the best thing to help Gase right now, even if the playoffs are far removed from any New York conversation (green or blue). Heck, the Gase goose may be already cooked. But that shouldn’t stop anyone in the locker from providing even the slightest bit of metropolitan hope.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

3 keys for a New York Jets win against San Francisco in week 2

New York Jets, Jimmy G

The New York Jets were utterly embarrassed this Sunday in Buffalo. The team looked poorly coached, poorly prepared, and not ready to face even the worst teams in this league. Heading into today’s game, there are there key factors that will decide whether or not the team starts the season at 1-1 or 0-2.

Take Advantage of Injuries

Today’s game will be a tough one for San Francisco. With George Kittle out for the game, the 49ers will revert to Jordan Reed as their starting tight end. For those that don’t remember, when he wasn’t battling concussions, Reed was a productive tight end in Washington. Still, he is no Greg Kittle. The Jets need to take advantage of the lack of weaponry that Jimmy G has and let them rely on the run. The Bills rushing attack, outside of Josh Allen, could not get going against the Jets front 7. Quite frankly, if the Jets can keep that offense at bay, this could be a close game.

As for the other side of the football, Richard Sherman is out, and that could also be a huge help. Without Sherman, the Jets will have an opportunity to face the 49ers backup corners, which ended well for Atlanta last year. Granted, the Jets have no Julio Jones, but they can have success like the Falcons had when Julio put up over 100 yards. The Jets receivers need to create space and make Darnold’s life a little easier in order to win today.

Run Gore To The Ground

I hate to say it, but in the few reps Gore had last week, he looked like the best running back on the field. The 37-year-old back is a workhorse, and I think him complimenting a healthy LaMical Perine could be a nice rushing attack until Lev Bell is back. The issue is, this is one of the best defensive lines in the game. Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas make up that talented group, and all four can be game wreckers. If Gore can continue the momentum he had in camp today, the Jets could pick up some yards on the ground against this tough defensive line; if not, it will be a long day. 

TACKLE

The Jets’ biggest issue has fallen somewhat under the radar. The Jets could not tackle last Sunday. Consistently, the Jets were creating pressure in the backfield. Yet, they would get back there and fail to wrap up the receiver, quarterback, or rusher. This led to a long day of exploiting that poor play. The Jets need to come out with much better tackling today, or else the 49ers will run wild on this Jets team.