New York Jets make roster moves heading into Week 2

Kalen Ballage

The New York Jets placed three on short-term injured reserve and added another rusher as they prepare for a visit from the 49ers.

The New York Jets announced the addition of running back Kalen Ballage on Tuesday afternoon. His arrival corresponds with the Jets placing three players on injured reserve, headlined by fellow rusher Le’Veon Bell.

Bell’s second season in New York got off to a tough start, as he ran for 14 yards on six carries in the Jets’ 27-17 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park. He was removed from the game in the second half with a hamstring injury sustained in the first. Head coach Adam Gase expressed his regret over keeping Bell in the game during his postgame statements.

“I’m mad at myself that I let him back in there in the second half,” Gase said in video provided by the Jets. “I was watching him, and I thought it was going to be a touchdown. He got grabbed and the way he planted and torqued, it looked really bad. I saw him grab his hamstring and he wouldn’t come out. When we came in at halftime, I let him go back in there. I was worried about it. Eventually, I was like, ‘I can’t put you in there. We can’t take a chance of getting more hurt than you already are.’”

Joining Bell on injured reserve will be receiver Denzel Mims and linebacker Blake Cashman. The rookie Mims, the Jets’ second-round pick in April’s draft, dealt with hamstring issues throughout training camp and did not play in Sunday’s opener. Cashman, a second-year defender, had one tackle before sustaining a groin injury. As a rookie last season, he earned praise for filling in for injured starter C.J. Mosley before he himself was lost for the season in November with a torn labrum and fractured shoulder.

Joining the team in place of Bell is Ballage, a former Miami Dolphin who was previously dealt to the Jets in a training camp trade that was later voided when he failed a physical. Ballage was released by the Dolphins shortly after the voided transaction. The rusher now reunites with former coach Gase, who oversaw Ballage’s drafting in the fourth-round (131st overall) of the 2018 draft. Ballage, best known for scoring a Football Bowl Subdivision record eight touchdowns in a single game at Arizona State, tallied 545 total yards of offense over two seasons with the Dolphins.

The Jets return to action on Sunday afternoon against the San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Adam Gase expresses regret, remorse after Week 1 disaster

New York Jets, Adam Gase

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase’s first postgame statements of 2020 were understandably somber after Sunday’s shellacking in Buffalo.

Sunday’s opening game was a case of deja vu for the New York Jets and head coach Adam Gase. Not only did they fall to the Buffalo Bills on opening weekend for the second straight season, but the final margin 27-17 was nowhere near indicative of how one-sided the game truly was. Parallels could perhaps be drawn to the Jets’ final ledger of 7-9 earned last season. The Jets’ best victory tally since the star-crossed 10 wins in 2015 somewhat masked a brutal opening stretch to the season, one only exacerbated by injuries.

Either way, the trend of losing continued for New York…at least by literal name…and the head coach was forced to atone for it.

“It was about as bad of a start offensively as we could have had,” Gase said in his opening statements, per transcripts provided by the Jets. “We didn’t do anything when the defense did a good job getting a turnover. Complimentary football was non-existent throughout most of the game. We just really did not play well.

“The disappointing aspect is just watching the guys work all week and the excitement level coming into this game. We have a lot to work on and a lot of things to get fixed.”

To Gase’s point, Buffalo didn’t seem pleased with what was otherwise a dominant performance. Josh Allen became the first Bills quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards since December 2016 but two lost fumbles denied Buffalo a chance to truly break the game open.

The Jets, however, failed to truly capitalize on either opportunity. Allen’s latter fumble, forced by Bless Austin, le to their first points via a Sam Ficken field goal, but a chance to pull early momentum yielded only a three-and-out. When Allen held onto the ball, the Bills built a 21-0 lead that was never truly in doubt.

“We had to get into that rhythm,” receiver Jamison Crowder said. “I feel like guys were trying to press to hard and we just couldn’t get into that rhythm. We have to change that going forward. We have to come out early and bring the energy and get some plays going, stay ahead of the sticks and get first downs.”

The lack of preseason games certainly didn’t play in the Jets’ favor. Even if each of the 32 teams were not granted the benefit of four consequence-free opportunities to develop chemistry and the rhythm that Crowder desired, the Jets may have been one of the teams most affected by the decision to outright cancel exhibitions. The starting offensive line, for example, was completely new. Every receiver from third-year quarterback Sam Darnold’s rookie season has likewise departed. A rare leftover, Chris Herndon, missed all but 18 snaps last season due to suspension and injury.

Gase wasn’t fully buying into the theory, insisting that Buffalo didn’t throw anything unexpected at them. It was the on the Jets for not performing and not taking advantage of opportunities.

“When we had opportunities to make plays, we didn’t make them,” Gase said. “I thought there were some things that, I felt like the line gave us enough time. We were not good in the passing game today, especially early.”

The task ahead for the influx of newcomers playing their first game under a new system was made all the more challenging by changes Gase has to make. Free agency arrival Pierre Desir was removed for Nate Hairston, while a hamstring injury to Le’Veon Bell forced him to press Frank Gore and Josh Adams (scorer of the Jets’ final touchdown) into further action.

Gase would express remorse keeping Bell in the game as long as he did. His status for next week’s game against San Francisco, a Sunday home opener (1 p.m. ET, Fox) is yet to be determined.

“I’m mad at myself that I let him to back in there in the second half,” he said. “I saw him grab his hamstring and he wouldn’t come out. When we came in at halftime, I let him go back in there. I was worried about it. Eventually, I was like, ‘I can’t put you in there. We can’t take a chance of getting more hurt than you already are.’”

In the midst of his somber statements, Gase did address the fledgling positives that emerged from defeat. He was inspired by Crowder’s 69-yard hookup with Darnold, one that narrowed the Jets’ deficit to 21-10 in the third quarter. The drive that led to Ficken’s field goal was also inspiring to Gase, a 10-play, 70-yard quest that took up 87 seconds of game time. Offensive line play was also to Gase’s liking. Newcomers Mekhi Becton and George Fant each managed to have a decent blocking day in their green debuts, with Darnold only getting sacked three times. Buffalo defenders got to him four times in last year’s opener.

But if the Jets are going to steal a couple of wins before this season of uncertainty lets out, Gase knows that more complete efforts are required. The drive starts upon the Jets’ return home, one whose end features a battle with the defending NFC champions.

The discussion in (the locker room) was of making every possession count. That was a different feel for me with that group. These guys have a plan themselves going out there before we even said anything. It was good to see how all of those guys were working together. There is so much for us to clean up. It was a rough game. We didn’t play well enough. We have to get a lot of things fixed in a short period of time.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets Position Group Grades: Running backs

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

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

RB 1: Le’Veon Bell

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

RB 2: Frank Gore

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

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

RB 3: LaMical Perine

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

Grade: B

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

New York Jets: Le’Veon Bell and Adam Gase “actually like each other”

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

As Week 1 looms, New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell did his part to end rumors of tension between him and his head coach.

New York Jets running back Le’Veon Bell may represent the offense, but took on the role of a shutdown corner in defusing tension between he and head coach Adam Gase.

On Thursday, the rusher spoke for the first time since an intrasquad scrimmage bore friction between the two. Gase mentioned that he had pulled Bell from the proceedings due to a tight hamstring, but Bell took to social media afterward to proclaim his clean bill of health. Speaking in person after the late week practice, Bell considered the scrimmage matter behind him and publicly called for those covering the Jets to stop pitting he and Gase against each other.

“I don’t understand why everybody is trying to put me and Gase against each other,” Bell said Thursday, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “We’re not against each other. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to believe, but we actually like each other.”

Bell and Gase’s relationship has been under a microscope ever since the former Pittsburgh Steeler inked a four-year, $52.5 million contract last offseason. Rumors emerged last season that Gase lobbied against then-general manager Mike Maccagnan adding Bell after he sat out the entire 2018 season due to a contract dispute. Bell’s name appeared in several trade rumors at the league-deadline last season and Gase was accused by analysts of not using Bell properly in his offense. Bell had a full-season career-low 789 yards last season.

But Bell doubled down on his peace treaty with Gase, insisting that the pair have never had problems.

“Ever since I got here and he got here, there’s kind of been this little thing of me and him butting heads all the time, which I don’t know where it comes from,” Bell said in Cimini’s report. “We had a long conversation because basically people (blew last week) out of proportion because I did make the tweet.”

Bell has returned to training camp eager to rectify and atone for the mistakes of 2019 and has been a burst of light in the Jets’ proceedings. He’s ready to take on a larger role in the New York offense when the Jets open against Buffalo on September 13 (1 p.m. ET, CBS) and it appears Gase is ready to take Bell up on that challenge.

“I feel like we can find better ways to get him the ball to help him create more explosive plays,” Gase said in Cimini’s discourse. “We can get him in space better than we did last year.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Updated expectations for running back group

New York Jets, LeVeon Bell

The New York Jets‘ running back group was just recently strengthened with the addition of Kalen Ballage. He isn’t going to be a starter by any means, but he’s a capable back who adds depth. With Ballage now added to the mix, the Jets’ depth chart is currently as follows, according to ESPN:

  1. Le’Veon Bell
  2. Frank Gore
  3. La’Mical Perine
  4. Kalen Ballage

The order behind Bell could change a little, but it’s expected to be extremely similar once the season begins. Bell is going to be the workhorse and get the majority of the playing time and touches, but behind him, it’s all open. It seems pointless to discuss the expectations for Le’Veon because they have been spoken about so frequently. Instead, let’s take a look at some expectations and predictions for the three backs behind him.

Frank Gore

The future Hall of Fame inductee currently sits third all-time in career rushing yards with 15,347. While his best days are behind him, Gore can still provide key help when needed. Le’Veon Bell can easily be an every-down back but Gore can be used in late-down situations very well. Third-and-short situations are where I see the long-time veteran taking most of his touches. He can pound the ball up the middle to get the one, two, or three yards to move the chains.

Gore most likely isn’t going to have pretty stats this season, but he doesn’t need them. If he can use his experience and intelligence to just keep drives alive, he can be a nice part of this New York Jets offense.

La’Mical Perine

The rookie out of Florida had a solid college career, finishing ninth in career rushing and receiving yards in team history. He will be getting nowhere near the same amount of touches that he’s used to this season, and he knows that. It’s hard to predict just how much he’ll be used, but it’s probably going to be sparingly, at least to start. He’ll be the third back behind Bell and Gore, and he’ll have to show he deserves to get touches.

The question isn’t whether or not he’ll see the field, because he will. He won’t be appearing on every drive, but he should get around 5 touches a game to start. It could be more, it could be less, but it should be around there.

Kalen Ballage

The third-year back has never had the chance to be featured consistently on offense. That will continue with the New York Jets. Across two season in Miami, he started just 6 of the 24 games he played. In his career, he’s totaled 326 yards and 4 touchdowns thus far. Those are very limited numbers in limited playing opportunities. The downside for him now is that he’ll have even fewer opportunities, if he plays at all.

Ballage may never see the field in a Jets uniform, since he was added simply for back-end depth. He’s capable of being a rotational piece in a backfield, and that’s what he’ll be if he touches the field. He seems to be an addition for the potential scenario where injuries diminish the group. Whatever his usage is or isn’t, he adds back-end security for the Jets backfield.

New York Jets: Two offensive breakout candidates

New York Jets, Leveon Bell

The New York Jets have some familiar faces, on both sides of the ball, that can be expected to perform a certain way. There are some guys who have to prove themselves again, as well. Whatever their situation is, any of them can have a breakout season. However, some are more likely than others. So, here are two offensive candidates for a potential breakout season:

Le’Veon Bell

Bell was a big-name addition for this team last season. After a remarkable career with the Steelers, fans were hoping all of his skill and excitement would be translated in green and white. That didn’t necessarily happen. Now, Bell wasn’t “bad” in any sense, but his numbers weren’t on par with his Pittsburgh ones.

Le’Veon finished the 2019 season with 789 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on the ground while adding 66 receptions for 461 yards and 1 touchdown. Those numbers are far down from his last season in Pittsburgh in 2017. That season he totaled 1,291 rushing yards with 9 touchdowns and 85 receptions for 655 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Yes, his yardage was drastically down, but he was probably expected to have a slight dropoff in that category. After all, he did sit out the entire 2018 season. For me, though, the biggest concern was the touchdown amount. For someone who is getting as much money as he is, the ball needs to be in the endzone more. Sure, the offense needs to move the ball more efficiently down the field to have more scoring chances, but there were opportunities to have more than 3 rushing touchdowns last season.

Le’Veon Bell has seemed extremely motivated and excited about the upcoming season. He has been seen doing intense workouts on social media and was really showing his excitement in this recent tweet from the New York Jets:

Bell has also predicted, via Twitter, that this season will be one of his best. That sure would be fantastic for fans and the team, who desperately needs Le’Veon to be a big part of this offense. With all of the skill, motivation and drive that Bell has, he could be in store for a big, breakout season.

Chris Herndon

Chris Herndon dealt with injuries all of last year and played in only one game as a result. As a rookie, he appeared in all 16 games, starting 12 of them. In that rookie season, he totaled 39 receptions for 502 yards and 4 touchdowns. Aside from the numbers, though, he showed tremendous upside and ability as a playmaker. His raw talent is evident, but he needs to stay on the field. If he does, he can really be special.

The third-year tight end has nowhere to go but up this season. If he stays on the field, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to be a breakout player. I’m sure Jets fans wouldn’t mind seeing him make plays like this again:

Since Ryan Griffin had a solid season last year with Sam Darnold, Herndon may have to fight for the right to a majority of the targets. Even if he gets fewer targets to some degree, he’s still capable of much more production. He’s a better athlete with more big-play ability. The season could very well be a breakout one for Herndon if he has the ability to show what he can do for the New York Jets.

New York Jets: RB Frank Gore could be the burst of energy the stagnant offense needs

New York Giants, Frank Gore

Each seeking redemption in a new decade, Frank Gore and the New York Jets’ offense may be a match made in football heaven.

No matter what he accomplishes in a New York Jets uniform, the image of Frank Gore bearing the emblems and numerals of New York’s green football team will undoubtedly appear on lists or slideshows of NFL legends dressed in the “wrong” colors. “New York Jets legend Frank Gore” will satirically trend during a future slow day on social media.

Yet, if things pan out, Gore could hold a small but notable role in Jets history.

The addition of the 37-year-old Gore seems counterintuitive to a rebuilding squad. Surely, the latter days of his professional football career would be better spent chasing a title, not helping a rebuilding offense find its footing, no? The third name on the NFL’s all-time rushing list has apparently been playing AFC East bingo over the past few seasons, spending the past two seasons between Miami and Buffalo. An elusive Super Bowl as both a spell option and veteran mentor with a contender would perhaps be the perfect way for the San Francisco legend to ride off into the sunset.

Instead, Gore has spent the opening stages of Jets training camp praising the situation presented in front of him. He’s set to spell incumbent starting rusher Le’Veon Bell after proving servicable in his prior stops with the Jets’ rivals. Gore is one of three 30-year-old running backs to tally at least 1,000 rushing yards over the past two seasons with 1,321 (Adrian Peterson and Mark Ingram are the ohters).

“I know the situation here,” Gore in a report from Brian Costello of the New York Post. “We’ve got a great back with Le’Veon, who did great things and still can play this game. I know that he’s our lead dog. My goal is to do whatever it takes when my number gets called to do whatever it takes to help this team be successful.”

Gore is by far the most experienced name on the Jets with 16 NFL seasons under his belt. In a season unlike any other, he’s providing a youth exuberence to the New York proceedings right from the get-go. That included his earliest days with a Jets label, when minicamp endeavors were reduced to a virtual arena.

Head coach Adam Gase knew exactly what he was getting upon extending Gore an invitation to Florham Park. Not only did Gase supervise Gore’s lone season in Miami (where Gore ran for a team-best 722 yards in 2018) but he also played witness to one of the earliest years of his prime as an assistant with the 49ers in 2008.

“He’s a natural leader. He’s the kind of guy that guys respect around the NFL,” Gase said in a report from NewYorkJets.com’s Ethan Greenberg. “He’s done a great job as far as helping younger players that are in the room. I think he’s a good teammate especially the last three or four years in that backup role and the supporting role of whoever that starter is. He’s a great guy for Le’Veon [Bell] to be around. Those two guys can really do some damage together.

“We have two guys that can play all three downs. They both have outstanding skillsets. There’s a little bit of difference in their running style and how they do things, but we know Frank really well and we know how to use them.”

Now that the Jets have gathered in person, it appears Gore’s leaving an impact on the rest of the roster as well, particularly with his offensive contemporaries. Even at his advanced age, he’s finding a way to leave an impact.

Bell, for example, was still a junior at Groveport Madison High School in Ohio when the seasoned veteran made his NFL debut as a third-round pick for San Francisco in 2005. His middle school days came and went while Gore made a name for himself at the University of Miami.

Yet, Bell knows there’s plenty he can learn from Gore, whose earliest NFL days were spent as a silver lining during a lengthy rebuild. He never experienced a winning professional season until his seventh campaign.

“I look at a guy like Frank Gore. I’m fortunate that he’s in my room,” Bell said when asked about his inpiration by Al Iannazzone of Newsday. “I pick his brain. He has a similar mindset as I have. “The fact that he’s 37 years old and he’s playing at a high level still, and he was talking about the things that he was doing when I was 28. He’s like Le’Veon, ‘I was doing this, that and the other.’ So I know I’m doing the right things because I’m hearing it from a guy who’s done it and who’s doing it.”

Gore’s fateful seventh season saw the 49ers go 13-3 and reach the NFC title game. Though a Super Bowl appearance wasn’t to be…the New York Giants stole an overtime decision…they were able to take the next step when Gore’s two touchdowns erased a 10-point deficit against Atlanta for a 28-24 win. Gore is thus a rare Jet who posses experience and a taste of the championship nectar, even if it’s only a mere sip.

The arrival of Gore also takes a certain bit of the offensive load off of Bell. Rushing will be more vital than ever for a Jets team that has major question marks at the top of their wide receiver depth chart slots. It will lead to new opportunities in the backfield, but last proved that one cannot live on Bell alone.

But if Gore can provide relief now and the knowledge to succeed in the future, his impact can last far beyond the one-year deal bestowed to him this offseason.

“We’re excited about not only the production Frank’s brought in his career but we’re excited about the chemistry he’s going to bring to the running backs room and the locker room,” general manager Joe Douglas said in a May report from Randy Lange focusing on Gore’s arrival. “He’s got a great work ethic, he’s a true pro. It’s a relatively young room right now behind Le’Veon. So he’s definitely going to help those young guys and be a great example for them moving forward.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Adam Gase sounds reinvigorated and ready to change the narrative in 2020

New York Jets, Adam Gase

New York Jets‘ head coach Adam Gase has had a rough offseason. After finishing the season 6-2, the Jets went into the offseason with high hopes for the future. With Sam Darnold getting another year playing in Gase’s system, the return of two defensive leaders in C.J. Mosley and Avery Willamson, and the entire coaching staff returning, continuity was a big theme.

That continuity took a big hit when Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, two of Darnold’s best weapons, ended up leaving (for two different reasons) New York. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

Then, Jamal Adams went on his campaign against the Jets organization with multiple public outcries and an exclusive with the Daily News that shined a light on the organizational instability and internal hypocrisy. The hypocrisy was directed towards Gase, who Adams said openly, never would talk to the team, or make adjustments. He delegated that to assistant coaches. Being able to admit when you’re wrong and make adjustments is what makes a good coach. When you fail to do that or fail to even address your team on your level, you not only lose the respect of the players, but you also build a culture of incompetence. That’s exactly what he’s done.

So, Gase’s reputation took a massive hit with the Adams saga, but then he was traded, and brighter days seemed to loom large. Then, the perspective captain of the defense in the wake of the Adams’ trade, Mosley, opted out for the safety of his family and himself. Now, the Jets defense will play this season without presumably, their two biggest stars.

The New York Jets might have a different version of Adam Gase this year:

When Adam Gase took the podium this week, one thing struck out to me that signaled a potential change of heart… accountability. Rumors swirled this offseason about tension between the Jets and one of their biggest offensive stars, Le’Veon Bell. Gase did something that has been a rarity in his career, take accountability for the way last season went, as he said:

“‘You’ve got make sure you’re using him the right way and making sure that we’re getting him to 16-plus games and not grinding him out, Last year, I feel like I did a bad job at the beginning of the season. I was really trying to get him going, and at the same time, teams kind of knew what we were doing and they were loading up the box and he was taking some shots. I’m sure that wore on him as the season went on.’”

This was a real big issue last season, as Bell was supposed to be the focal point of their offense. It was evident last season that Bell was struggling for a few reasons, poor blocking, fatigue as the season wore on, and poor game planning. If Gase is serious about working to make sure Bell takes more effective rushes, that can change the offense.

The offensive line is presumed to be improved with the overhaul, and Bell has been a gym rat and will hopefully be more physically ready for this season than last year, so those areas should improve. If Gase steps up like he says he plans to, that can not only change the rushing attack but rather the whole offense, and this was an offense that ranked in the bottom half of the league. Change is needed, and that change could be accountability by Gase. Still, actions speak louder than words, and if Gase can’t truly improve this season, then that needed change could be a new head coach of the New York Jets.

Five New York Jets who could make the leap into the Top 100 Players of 2021

New York Jets

NFL Network’s annual summer countdown featured no New York Jets representation, but there’s potential for some to make the leap.

Sports are slowly returning to the American consciousness. The asphalt and the links have respectively played host to NASCAR and Golf, while bubbles have been inflated to stage the NHL, NBA, and WNBA season. MLB continues to play in empty stadiums for the time being, though to say that situation is in flux would be the understatement of this chaotic year.

Yet, despite not having played a single down since Patrick Mahomes’ victorious throwaway at the end of Super Bowl LIV (which, by the way, did indeed occur in 2020) and training camp still going through medical testing, we’re still talking about NFL football.

The catalyst this time around is the full release of the Top 100 Players of 2020, the annual countdown of names determined by the votes of the players themselves. Results have annually been posted on NFL Network, with the full list unveiled in the span of a week this time by. Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson went from unranked to taking the top spot. Fellow thrower Russell Wilson was the runner-up while Mahomes came in fourth behind previous winner Aaron Donald. New Orleans receiver Michael Thomas rounded out the top five.

Alas, the metropolitan area possesses more teams than it does players in the current Top 100.

While the Giants were blessed with Saquon Barkley’s inclusion (No. 31, down 15 spots from the prior edition), the New York Jets have no current members on the prestigious list. Jamal Adams came in a No. 27 for his exploits from last season, but he, of course, has been dealt to Seattle, one of seven Seahawk representatives (tied for the most with Baltimore and New Orleans). The Jets were one of six teams without a current nominee, joining Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville, Miami, and Washington in infamy.

Who are the Jets’ best hopes to ensure we’re not talking about another blank slate this time next year? ESM has five nominees…

T Mekhi Becton

Reaching the 100 after one’s rookie season isn’t impossible, evidenced by the appearances of Kyler Murray, DK Metcalf, Josh Jacobs, and Nick Bosa on this year’s edition. But doing so as an offensive lineman is particularly difficult. Candidates are unaided by flashy “fantasy football” stats, making inclusion a tough hill to climb.

If Becton is able to deliver the kick that the Jets’ offensive line needs, spark the protection revolution that a hopeful backfield requires to fulfill its potential, then he should definitely be among the top 100 this time next year.

The offensive lineman is one of the most underrated positions in football, and perhaps in all of sports entirely, with no opportunity to reach the box score except in the case of the tackle-eligible play or fumble recovery in the end zone. But they’re perhaps the most valuable member on the team, especially in this day and age of fantasy football heroics. Big plays are exciting, but they’re rendered meaningless when the thrower has no time or the runner can’t make it to the hole. It’s very telling that no Jets blocker has appeared on the list since Nick Mangold and D’Brickashaw Ferguson showed up in the inaugural edition in 2011. If Becton’s prescience finally starts to change the Jets’ offensive narrative, he should earn this special recognition.

RB Le’veon Bell

Bell went from the top five to unranked after his lost final season in Pittsburgh. Last season wasn’t enough to put him back on the list, rushing for a full-season career-low 789 yards. Since his year-long opt-out, Bell has gone on to serve as a soothing voice of reason during his time with the Jets. He reiterated his dedication to the franchise during an uncertain trade deadline last season and has since vowed to right the wrongs of his first year in green. The Jets’ offensive line renovation was an endeavor to help Bell return to form. Further fuel was added to his 2020 fire when Bell gave Jamal Adams one last parting gift in the form of a Twitter get-together that leaves the Jets potential December visit to Seattle looming larger than ever on the 2020 ledger.

The combination of new, and potentially more powerful, blockers and a quest for vengeance could make for fireworks in the Jets’ backfield. Bell has been a mainstay on the Top 100 list throughout his career. If he’s able to capture even a portion of his Pittsburgh firepower, he can definitely work his way back.

QB Sam Darnold

Darnold has become one of the most polarizing figures in both New York sports and the NFL entirely. While it’s completely fair to say that Darnold hasn’t fully reached his NFL potential, one has to analyze the hand he’s been dealt. With so much turnover in his blocking and receiving corps…Chris Herndon, Brian Winters, and Jonotthan Harrison are the rare leftovers from his rookie season…Darnold has still managed to post respectable numbers. Each of his first two seasons has ended with a hot streak, and now he might finally consistent blocking help and a long-term deep play target (Denzel Mims).

If and when we get a 2020 season, it will serve as the proverbial crucial third year of Darnold’s term as franchise quarterback, one that either extends the thrower’s stay in his locale (Jared Goff, Derek Carr, Matthew Stafford) or ends it entirely (Trent Edwards, Christian Ponder, Daunte Culpepper). Darnold probably has a little more time on his hands, considering he’s working with an all-new offense. But if he can make a leap in the third year, inclusion on the Top 100 should be no problem. It more than likely won’t be like Jackson’s dramatic ascension (going from unranked to No. 1 in the span of a year), but if he’s able to move past No. 87 Josh Allen, that’d likely be satisfying enough for a good portion of the Jets’ fanbase.

S Marcus Maye

It’ll be a big year for a 2017 Jets draftee, a member of the secondary, an SEC alum, and someone who will likely be looking for a long-term contract.

But Jamal Adams is gone. The New York secondary now belongs to Marcus Maye.

Maye is now one of the leaders of the Jets’ defense, especially a safety group that will be relying more on former Seattle reserve Bradley McDougald and third-round pick Ashtyn Davis. Maye had a solid season coming back from injury, and now has a big opportunity in a contract year to make something happen in New York. Entering his fourth season, Maye is surprisingly one of the Jets with East Rutherford/Florham Park tenure now.  If he can impress in an expanded role…well, let’s just say an appearance in the Top 100 would come in very handy when it comes to contract talks in New York or elsewhere. Maye’s rise could similar to Top 100 newcomer Budda Baker (No. 97) who has taken on a larger role in Arizona over the past two seasons since the departure of Tyrann Mathieu.

LB C.J. Mosley

If the program was called the “Top 100 Players of Last Week 1’s First Three Quarters”, Mosley might’ve topped the list. Through 45 minutes of action against the Buffalo Bills, Mosley had tallied six tackles, two pass breakups, a fumble recovery, and an interception returned for a touchdown. He served as the main catalyst behind the Jets’ 16-3 lead. Alas, Mosley’s injury the first domino to fall in the chain of events that was the Jets’ disastrous fall. With the exception of a one-game cameo in October, Mosley missed the remainder of the 2019 season, thus unable to move up the rankings after exploits in Baltimore placed him at No. 71.

As a leader in the defense, Mosley has high hopes for the upcoming campaign, which should be scary for AFC East newcomers like Cam Newton and Tua Tagovailoa. He expressed a desire to “(put) the pedal on the gas as quick as possible” during an offseason episode of the Locked on Jets Podcast.

“Last year was kind of building the foundation while we was moving,” Mosley said. “Now the foundation’s been set. We ended the season on a great note, so we’ve got to start the season fast like we ended the season, and I think if we can start early this year, through our offseason going into camp, and hit the ground running those first four games, that first month of football, we can set the pace for ourselves.”

A full season from Mosley should not only help the Jets’ defense, but resume his personal quest to climb up the Topp 100’s rankings.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Opinion: Jamal Adams will remain a New York Jet

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

Today, the New York Daily News dropped a rare exclusive with a player on the outs with the New York Jets’ organization. The entire premise of landing an interview with a player who holds any level of animosity towards his respective team is few and far between.

Despite that, Manish Mehta detailed his sit down with Jamal Adams in his latest article. Manish did an eloquent job on the piece, yet, the answers given by Adams did not live up to that same precedent. For that very reason, Jamal Adams will be a New York Jet at the start of the 2020 season.

Why Adams Will Stay In New York

Judging by the answers, it’s evident (as if it wasn’t already) Jamal wants out. Most players resort to public outcry after outcry in order to tarnish the organization and become a distraction in order to get off the team. Jamal is in desperation mode. Unlike when the Jaguars ownership broke down and resorted to public rebuttal of Yannick Ngakoue, or when the Steelers organization and their players began to turn against Lev Bell, the Jets have not budged.

Jamal and his camp are nervous, so this exclusive is an evident last-ditch effort to force a reaction or a trade out of the Jets. Yet, they are still yet to budge. Jamal’s dismay did nothing to get them to talk. So now, Jamal is taking shots at the basic organizational integrity. Within the piece, he takes shots at Adam Gase. He calls him the wrong leader for the organization, takes aim at his reluctance to face the team or make adjustments (which is apparent).  He also fires off against Joe Douglas for giving off mixed signals.

So, with all that said, why is Jamal going to remain a Jet? The Jets control his rights. As much as Jamal wants out and is trying everything and anything to get off the team, ultimately, it’s the Jets decision. Joe Douglas doesn’t want him gone. He made it clear to the team that the initial goal was to put pieces around Jamal and resign him next year. Then, the plans got altered by financial shifts and the COVID-19 pandemic. From Jamal’s perspective, plans should not have changed, and since his demands have not been met yet, in terms of more “dawgs” or a new deal.

The disconnect is, no doubt, massive. Despite that, Jamal is making a concession. He WILL attend training camp. Why this is important is because it’s evident that he is doing this because he is nearing his end of moves. Jamal wants out, and he will do whatever it takes to get out, even temporarily, please the organization. Ultimately, Jamal is tied to the Jets for the long haul with his rookie deal, then potential franchise tags. No matter what Jamal wants people to believe, he can’t get out of his deal. Jamal can kick and scream, but Joe Douglas will be the one who either seals his fate and buys him a ticket out of New York or makes him a “Jet for Life.” I don’t see either happening, and the only middle road is the “Prez” continuing his term during an election year.