Four plays that shaped the New York Jets’ Week 1 fate

ESM looks back on the New York Jets’ Week 1 defeat, finding a play from each quarter that’s shaping their past, present, and future.

When taking a look at exactly where it went wrong for the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon, one well could argue that things went awry from the opening kickoff.

The Jets (0-1) opened their 2020 campaign with a 27-17 defeat at the hands of the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. Week 1’s final score shielded just how ugly the game, particularly the first 30 minutes, truly was, as a 21-point onslaught buried the Jets before they could truly get going. Fleeting positives were able to emerge in the second half, but the former segment’s shortcomings cast a considerable pall over any progress the Jets were trying to make or showcase in their season opener.

“There is so much for us to clean up,” head coach Adam Gase said in defeat. “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.”

ESM looks back on opening weekend, looking back on a big play from each quarter, one that will affect the team’s past, present, and future…

1st Quarter: Pierre Desir’s penalty 

Maybe it’s just the “2020” effect, but Sunday’s first quarter already feels like an eternity ago. The early stages of the frame actually granted brief hope to the Jets in the form of Marcus Maye forcing the ball from a running Josh Allen, putting the ball right into the hands of Bradley McDougald. Maye and the rest of the unit, however, were barely granted a two-minute break to compose themselves. An offensive three-and-out lasted just two minutes, forcing the defense to return to service almost immediately.

Buffalo took advantage of the Jets’ gassed defense, working their way to New York’s five-yard-line. The potential of holding Buffalo to a field goal seemed realistic and rookie kicker Tyler Bass was anything but fully reliable (2-of-4, though one miss appeared to be ruled incorrectly). If the Jets emerged from the ordeal with a 3-0 deficit, good vibes could’ve emerged from a dangerous quarter.

Alas, a Desir penalty, a defensive holding infraction to be precise, gave Buffalo a fresh set of downs as Allen’s would-be touchdown pass to John Brown fell incomplete. Allen and the Bills capitalized immediately in the form of his first of three touchdowns on the afternoon, this one being a two-yard rush. It began a streak of three consecutive touchdown drives and buried the Jets before they even knew what hit them. Desir had a tough debut in cover Brown and touted Buffalo newcomer Stefon Diggs. He was eventually benched for Nate Hairston in the second half.

Penalties continue to be an issue in the Gase era. The Jets were 10th in the final penalty rankings last season (115) and the nine yellows they drew on Sunday were tied for the most with Tampa Bay and Arizona.

2nd Quarter: Sam Darnold’s Interception

It’s possible to hold both Gase and Darnold accountable when analyzing Sunday’s disastrous results. One particularly garish play was something that simply should come from a third-year franchise quarterback. Darnold’s first interception of 2020 was an across-the-body toss that more or less served as the premature dagger for the Jets’ Sunday chances.

The defense managed to hold Buffalo scoreless on the drive that came from the Matt Milano interception, taking advantage of another Allen fumble. But still wasn’t an encouraging sing the Jets wanted to see from their franchise savior.

“The interception was just a bad play to try to fit a ball in there that I shouldn’t have,” Darnold said in his postgame comments. “It’s a bad play, it’s inexcusable, there are no excuses for it. I’ve just got to be better.”

Criticism against Gase is widespread these days…early Vegas odds have him ranked as the coach most likely to be fired midseason…but one can rip on his situations and playcalling while also acknowledging that Darnold has more to learn. The offensive line actually performed rather well in Sunday’s showing, but Darnold worked his way into coverage sacks that stalled drives. He’s got a lot to work on with a relentless rush from San Francisco visiting East Rutherford on Sunday.

3rd Quarter: Marcus Maye Forces a Field Goal

A rare Sunday silver lining of consistency was Maye. Thrust into the defensive spotlight after Jamal Adams napalmed his New York bridges, the safety got his contract year off to a good start with the tune of a game-high 10 tackles to go along with the forced fumble and a pair of sacks and pass breakups each.

Each of Maye’s sacks came on third downs in the third quarter, the first capping off a three-and-out on Buffalo’s opening trek. The latter, a three-yard loss at the cusp of the red zone, kept the Jets’ hopes temporarily alive. His takedown led to an unsuccessful 38-yard try from the rookie Bass, three plays before Darnold united with Jamison Crowder for the Jets’ most electrifying play (a 69-yard scoring hookup and the team’s first 2020 touchdown).

Maye admitted that the Jets’ biggest Sunday sin was failing to contain Allen, who made up for his turnovers with 369 yards of offense, a career-best.

“(We failed at) containing the quarterback,” Maye explained. “(Pass interference penalties) in the first half hurt us and letting (Allen) extend plays. Other than that, in the second half we got off the field like we needed to once we settled in. It wasn’t really anything that they necessarily did, it was all us I feel like.”

To Maye’s point, the Jets allowed only two field goals in the second half and allowed less than 200 yards. Maye knows that a better start against San Francisco and beyond could work wonders.

“You have to come out hot. You have to come out fast. You can’t wait until things get tough to get going. From the first play you have to come out.” Maye remarked. “We just have to execute and be disciplined in our rush lanes. When the ball is in the air, just be composed and be smart.”

4th Quarter: Josh Adams Gets a Workout

Le’Veon Bell missed a majority of the second half with a hamstring injury, one that will keep him off the field for the foreseeable future. It opens up a new opportunity for Adams, who made a name for himself as an undrafted rookie, discovered by Joe Douglas in Philadelphia. Adams finished in the top ten in rookie rushing with 511 yards and joined the Jets’ practice squad last season. He was in the same spot at the start of September but was promoted when it was clear La’Mical Perine wouldn’t be ready for Week 1.

Adams took full advantage of spelling Frank Gore in the dying stages of Sunday’s loss, earning 22 of the Jets’ final 65 yards on their last drive. The last two allowed him to score his first NFL touchdown since December 2018.

The Notre Dame alum was placed on the practice squad earlier this week, but with Bell on short-term injured reserve and extended moves on and off the squad allowed in this trying season, it stands to reason that Adams will be called upon to fill the void while Bell heals. If Sunday’s final drive is any indication, he can certainly help stem the New York bleeding.

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: silver lining Marcus Maye speaks after defeat

On his first day as the defensive headliner, Marcus Maye served as one of the lone silver linings for the New York Jets’ Week 1 endeavors.

Getting the New York Jets’ “game ball” in the locker room after Sunday’s game in Orchard Park may be more of an insult than honor at this point.

The first game of the green decade was one to forget, its 27-17 final score in favor of Buffalo Bills nowhere near as indicative of just how one-sided the game really was. Buffalo scored the first 21 points to bring the nonexistent home crowd to its feet and relatively waltz through the remainder of the game.

In a game like that, silver linings are few and far between. The 69-yard scoring hook-up between Sam Darnold and Jamison Crowder seemed wildly out-of-place in such a one-sided affair. New York (0-1) could perhaps at least take assurance in the fact that Mekhi Becton played a relatively decent game on the offensive line. The box score, however, was relatively low on condolences.

A welcome exception to the trend was safety Marcus Maye.

Sunday marked perhaps one of the most important games of Maye’s NFL career. While it was the fourth season of his NFL career, it was perhaps his first as a defensive headliner. With Jamal Adams napalming his bridges to New York and C.J. Mosley opting out, Maye likely had the brightest green spotlight on him during Sunday’s proceedings. Only more eyes will linger on Maye this season because of his contract status; his rookie deal ends after Week 17.

For all intents and purposes, Maye impressed his suitors, both domestically and abroad. He led all defenders with 10 tackles and also earned two sacks of Josh Allen. Two quarterback knockdowns likewise awaited Maye, who also successfully defended two passes and forced a fumble.

According to Jets PR, Maye is “the 10th Jet since 1994 to record a sack, forced fumble, TFL and a PD in the same game”. Notable fellow Jets to achieve the feats in that span include Darrelle Revis, John Abraham, and Muhammad Wilkerson (who did it three times).

Maye felt that Buffalo didn’t do anything truly special in victory, instead claiming blame on behalf of the Jets.

“(Buffalo wasn’t) doing anything schematically. (Allen) was extending plays with his legs and getting guys open with his feet,” Maye noted in transcripts provided by the Jets. “The penalties hurt us on our end, but other than that, that was really it. We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half.”

To Maye’s point, the Jets lost 95 yards on nine penalties. Buffalo (1-0) earned six first downs through laundry alone. Two of those instances came from the defense on either third downs or with at least 10 yards to go.

Overwork may have contributed to the defensive woes as a whole. The Jets earned only one first down on their first five possessions, forcing the defense back on the field as quickly as they left it. Maye wasn’t looking for excuses, however. With the Jets likely positioned as underdogs for the foreseeable future, Maye knows that better starts will be vital to making the most out of this trying season.

“You have to come out hot. You have to come out fast. You can’t wait until things get tough to get going. From the first play you have to come out,” Maye noted. “You know he’s going to run. You know he’s going to extend plays. You know he’s not going to stay in the pocket. So, we just have to execute and be disciplined in our rush lanes. When the ball is in the air, just be composed and be smart.”

The Jets’ confidence in Maye was apparent when the team granted him defensive captaincy honors alongside 12th-year veteran Steve McLendon. It was Maye who spoke not only for the Jets’ defensive shortcoming but for their pregame demonstration as well.

With athletes across North American sports engaging in demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice, the Jets opted to remain in the locker room during the opening ceremonies. According to Maye, team unity was the catalyst behind the decision.

“We just decided as a unit that we were going to hold out and stay inside during the National Anthem. We all decided that was something big for us to do. We did it as a group, as a team. Obviously, people had different perspectives on being out there on the sidelines, so we made an emphasis on just staying inside and keeping everybody together inside.”

The Jets will get a chance to redeem themselves at home next weekend against the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Good News/Bad News from the New York Jets’ Week 1 loss to Buffalo

Positives were hard to come by as the New York Jets offense continued to look stagnant in their 2020 opener.

It was deja vu all over again in the worst possible way for the New York Jets. For the second straight season, the team was on the wrong end of an opening week decision to the Buffalo Bills. This one didn’t even require a blown lead, as Buffalo scored 21 unanswered points to open things up, all but the extra points coming from the arms or legs of Buffalo quarter Josh Allen. The Bills withstood limited resistance to prevail in a 27-17 final at Bills Stadium in Orchard Park.

The Jets (0-1) mounted a mini-rally in the latter stages, energized by missed field goals on the Buffalo end. Their main catalyst was a 69-yard scoring hookup between Jamison Crowder and Sam Darnold that narrowed things to 21-10 in the third quarter. However, a Chris Herndon fumble more or less any hopes of a revival in Central New York.

GOOD NEWS 

If anything, the Jets’ special teams appeared to be in somewhat decent shape. Forced into action six different times, rookie Braden Mann did what he could to make Buffalo’s job on offense a bit tougher, averaging 46.3 yards per boot, with a long of 58 in his NFL debut. Sam Ficken also made his lone field goal attempt of the afternoon, successfully converting a 31-yard triple toward the end of the first half. With the offense continuing to struggle, the kickers will be vital, whether it’s salvaging a drive that entered enemy territory or making the opposing offense work a little harder. They can’t do anything about their comrades not capitalizing on those opportunities.

In the midst of a brutal defensive performance (Allen became the first Bills quarterback to throw for 300 yards since Tyrod Taylor in December 2016), Marcus Maye started to capitalize on the opportunity Jamal Adams’ departure left open for him. It was his turn to invade the backfield this week, earning two sacks in defeat. Maye also got two additional hits on Allen and led all defenders with 10 tackles and two pass defenses.

BAD NEWS

Everything else. The 27-17 final was nowhere near as indicative of just how far the Jets have to go to catch up to the favorites in Buffalo and New England.

Le’Veon Bell missed a majority of the second half with a hamstring injury, and his time on the field wasn’t filled with much hope (6 carries, 14 yards). Darnold was somewhat better protected, sacked “only” three times, but the run game failed to generate further hype, averaging only 3.4 yards per carry.

Turnovers continued to be an issue for the Jets. It’s obvious that not everything is Darnold’s fault, as the third-year man is desperate for assistance, but desperation toss in the latter stages of the first half killed momentum the Jets were trying to create. Herndon’s fumble, coming in his first full game since the end of the 2018 season, more or less sealed the deal in favor the Bills.

Penalties also were the negative name of the game for the Jets. Roughing the passer calls were far too common, as the Jets were a bit overzealous in trying to stop Allen (who nonetheless had 60 additional yards on the ground). Overly conservative coaching decisions and playcalling also distracted from the cause, with defensive lapses leading to Buffalo’s triumph.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Jets return to action at MetLife Stadium next week, taking on the defending NFC finalist San Francisco 49ers (1 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets unveil captains for the 2020 season

With takeoff scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Buffalo, the New York Jets revealed their 2020 captains on Wednesday.

The New York Jets unveiled their 2020 captains on Wednesday. Two men will each represent the offense and defense, while one more will lead the special teams unit.

Offense: QB Sam Darnold

Year three of Darnold’s Jets tenure will be his second year with the “C” patch. The 23-year-old previously held such honors in college at USC. Darnold has tallied an 11-16 record as an NFL starter thus far (including 7-6 last season) and has thrown for 5,889 yards and 36 touchdowns since his fateful New York entry in the 2018 Draft.

Offense: T George Fant

The veteran newcomer Fant is expected to be part of the Jets’ offensive line revolution. He’s the only fresh arrival to earn a patch, having spent the last four years in Seattle. Fant’s NFL journey is perhaps the perfect story for a young squad like the Jets. He entered the league undrafted out of Western Kentucky and his since transformed into a reliable blocking prescience.

Defense: S Marcus Maye

It’s about to be a big year for a certain New York safety that emerged from an SEC school and was drafted in 2017. Yes, Jamal Adams has (very publicly) moved onto Seattle, but Maye now takes over as the leader in the secondary in a contract year. It’s quite a comeback for Maye, who worked through a full season after missing ten games in 2018 due to injury. His Jets career has seen 178 tackles and four interceptions so far.

Defense: DL Steve McLendon

McLendon’s mere experience alone perhaps made him a shoo-in for captaincy honors. At 11 NFL seasons and counting (free agent arrivals Frank Gore and Joe Flacco are the only Jets with more tenure), McLendon, 34, is by far the most experienced green returnee. He has likewise risen from the ranks of the undrafted, spending seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before changing addresses in 2016. This will be McLendon’s third year as a defensive captain.

Special Teams: S Matthias Farley

Yet another player who didn’t hear his name called at his respective draft, Farley has become a favorite of coordinator Brant Boyer for his special teams prowess. The 28-year-old Notre Dame alum played 13 games in New York last season after three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, picking up 188 tackles with a horseshoe on his helmet.

The Jets open their 2020 season on Sunday afternoon against the Buffalo Bills (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Let bygones be bygones with Jamal Adams

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

Since he was shipped to the other side of the country, the New York Jets can’t let the memory of Jamal Adams linger.

If the start of training camp is any indication, the modern New York Jets may resemble the forgotten 2012 blockbuster The Bourne Legacy. Despite trying to move on with a fresh face of the franchise…Sam Darnold may well be the Jets’ Jeremy Renner in this scenario…the project may doomed to spend its runtime living in the shadow of its star attraction’s departure.

In this edition, the role of Matt Damon/Jason Bourne will be portrayed by Jamal Adams…except there’s more than likely no reunion tour coming four years later.

Jets representatives are emerging from isolation as training camp and Adams is the one name on their minds. The most prolific name of the Jets’ late 2010s offerings demanded his way out of New York and now begins his own training camp proceedings with the Seattle Seahawks. Yet, his prescience hasn’t truly left One Jets Drive.

Part of the lingering Adams sentiment obviously stems from modern times, as the Jets join the NFL in trying to navigate its way through the ongoing health crisis. Chances to speak to the Jets have been scarce compared to a normal offseason and the local media pounced on any opportunity to ask the defenders Adams left behind about his turbulent departure.

“That’s a situation between him and his party and the guys upstairs,” Adams’ former secondary companion Marcus Maye said, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Obviously, he was my running mate for three years, a hell of a player. He was looking for other things. I guess they had to part their ways.”

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was the most vocal about the former safety, to the point of starting a war of words with Adams’ new employers in the Pacific Northwest.

“Jamal may get bored there because they don’t use their safety-type things with all the complexities, maybe not showing what they’re doing as much as we do,” Williams said per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, taking a slight shot at Seattle’s Cover 3 setup. “We’ll still do a lot of the same exact things, but we’ll highlight the people we have here. As you saw what we did [last season], he had maybe his most productive year here because of how we highlighted the skill set he has.”

Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Both Adams himself and Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has since responded to Williams’ comments with a more direct jab at the long time defensive coordinator. Time will only tell if the bad blood makes it to the teams’ scheduled get-together in December.

But any flare-ups, references to Adams, or unnecessary rekindlings of the New York-Seattle rivalry that has been dormant since the 2001 ALCS is the last thing that the Jets need. Thus, it’s time to let Adams go.

As more Jets take to the practice fields, questions will continue to rise about Adams’ impact on the team or lack thereof. His ex-compatriots on the secondary will be asked how much they’ll miss him. Answering those questions is fine, but they can’t do what Williams did and start a verbal scuffle on the other side of the country. Once the first few practices of the post-Adams experience commence, the Jets need to focus only on New York…the green side of it, anyway.

“I’m not going to give a gauge on that, but hopefully we’re pretty (expletive) close,” linebacker Jordan Jenkins said in another report from Costello when asked about how close the Jets are to a breakout. “It’s ultimately up to us to decide whether to go out and do it. All the talking is done. It’s time for us to go out and do it.”

Jenkins is exactly right: only the Jets can control their future fortunes. Adams has nothing to with it. Let’s act that way.

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

Williams has been a rare, silver lining in this infantile era, one that has had Jets fans and players alike ready to run into a brick wall. But going after Adams reeks of sour grapes, which is the last thing they need this season.

This 2020 campaign is going to present new, and hopefully temporary, challenges for each of the NFL’s 32 teams. The Jets are a team starting to open a new decade on the right note. Their infamous moniker of “same old Jets” has been earned through not just losing, but losing through ways that are entirely avoidable and over-the-top. Pining after Adams and trying to get in the last word is the type of move that can define a season and set things off on the completely wrong foot.

Even without the challenges of working through a global health crisis, this was going to going to be a season that’d be awkward for the New York Jets. Making the playoffs was going to be a challenge, even with an extra invitation being sent out to each conference. This was going to be a year for the Jets to find themselves, a chance to build for the future, a chance for players, many of whom are on affordable single-year contracts, to prove why they should be allowed to stay for the (potential) glory days ahead. There may be heavier consequences for some…a make-or-break year for Adam Gase isn’t one for Sam Darnold…but there’s still a chance to earn mini-celebrations through development and growth.

This year, if and when we’re allowed to complete it, is a chance to prepare for a new decade, for a future. The last thing the Jets can afford to do is spend its first chapter fixated on the past.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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

The five New York Jets with the most to gain and lose in 2020

New York Jets, Brian Winters

For these five New York Jets, 2020 could provide the ultimate football reward of longevity or set their careers into a tailspin.

If and when the 2020 NFL season commences, every single one of its participants will be dealing with at least a modicum of uncertainty. The feelings perhaps increase threefold if you’re the New York Jets, a team seeing to end a playoff drought that’s approaching a decade.

New York is one of several AFC squads looking to take advantage of expanded playoff capital. Topping the perennial division winners in New England will still be a challenge and the Buffalo Bills have set themselves up to steal the throne. The Jets will be inserted into a crowded conference playoff picture, one packed to the brim with established contenders and even more up-and-comers.

For these five individual cases, however, 2020 could be a year of their own personal playoff, one that could make or break their professional careers…

(Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

RB Le’veon Bell

The role of the modern NFL running back continues to be debated. Derrick Henry, the primary energizer behind the Tennessee Titans’ AFC title game trek, had to wait until the final hour to get a deal beyond his April franchise tag. One look at the league’s rushing leaders from as recent as 2017 should tell the story perfectly. Each of the top eight rushers from that season (including leader Kareem Hunt, who was released by Kansas City after a domestic violence incident) are no longer with the team they accomplished their marks with. That includes Bell and the 1,291 yards he tallied as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

To Bell’s credit, he has openly acknowledged the disasters of 2019, which saw him fall to full-season career-lows in nearly all major rushing categories. Accompanying these acknowledgments are promises to return to his Pittsburgh form. Bell has also been a bit of a peacemaker in the Jamal Adams situation, being able to speak his mind while also providing Jets fans reassurances during a recent interview with Hot 97. It follows up a season where he dealt with trade rumors by repeatedly expressing his loyalty to green.

Soon it’ll be time to back these claims up on the field. The Jets spent a fortune on blocking this season, to help not one but two backfield saviors. Only adding to Bell’s New York plight is the fact that the Jets are set to save $9.5 million if they release him next offseason. 2020 could set Bell up for the rest of his career…for better or worse.

(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

S Marcus Maye

Last month, we wrote about how big 2020 became for Maye in the wake of the Adams demands. In his Twitter rants, Adams even took the time to tell Maye that he would miss “balling” with him. But Adams’ potential departure doesn’t mean the Jets are simply going to hand dominion of the secondary over to Maye without a test run.

Perhaps under the radar because of Adams’ antics, Maye has shown flashes of strong potential. Pro Football Focus had him among the top 20 safeties last season, which served as a perfect reintroduction to football after Maye missed a good portion of 2018 with injuries. Added to Maye’s plate are looming contract negotiations. Whether it comes from the Jets or elsewhere, Maye can earn himself the big bucks with a strong outing, especially in a future free agent class that also includes Justin Simmons and Budda Baker.

WR Breshad Perriman

Almost every veteran receiver seems to have that one game in which they were untouchable. Who could forget Queens native Kevin Ogletree’s Wednesday night heroics for Dallas in the 2012 opener against the Giants or the sight of Kevin Curtis compiling 221 yards in those garish Philadelphia throwbacks? Stephone Paige is one of six players in NFL history to record 300 yards in a game…that occasion was one of only 12 times he reached triple digits in a 125-game NFL career.

Perriman was able to stretch his one shining moment into a month. The former first-round pick struggled to find a role in Baltimore but rose to the occasion for a woebegone Buccaneers team when Mike Evans missed the final portions of the season. He scored five touchdowns over the final four weeks of the season and broke triple digits in yardage in the latter trio. Brought in on one of many of Joe Douglas’ “prove-it” deals, Perriman will immediately face the challenges of a top receiver. If he succeeds in this role, his career can enjoy a Sammy Watkins-like second wind. The scary alternative potentially resides on the Jets roster in the form of Josh Doctson…a former first-round pick who will have to fight to keep his NFL dream alive in training camp.

LB Avery Williamson

A shortened, or outright canceled, preseason may hurt the Jets, but they can at least avoid scenarios like the one that saw them lose Williamson to a season-long injury during an exhibition visit to Atlanta. Despite sizable cap savings attached to his release, Williamson has been afforded a chance to win back his roster spot, despite the Jets adding Patrick Onwuasor in free agency and enjoying the ride of rookie backup Blake Cashman once Williamson was lost.

Having turned 28 in March, Williamson will not only be looking for a chance to prove he can return to form after a devastating injury but 2020 will also map out his future. If he struggles during his camp endeavors, the Jets could potentially be tantalized by $6.5 million in cap savings and reliable veteran depth in Neville Hewitt and James Burgess (each of whom was re-signed).

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

OL Brian Winters

Getting the vote of confidence from management often seems to spell doom for an incumbent coach, but the concept seems to hold more water when it comes to a player. Winters is the longest-tenured Jet on the roster (joining the team as a third-round pick out of Kent State in 2013) and, like Harrison, is one of the few offensive leftovers from Darnold’s arrival. Many thought the corresponding $7 million in cap space would lead to Winters’ release this offseason, but general manager Joe Douglas dispelled the notion.

“You’re going to be hard-pressed to find a better teammate, a tougher guy than Brian Winters,” Douglas said in February, according to Brian Costello of the New York Post. “I’ve heard a lot of optimism and positives about his rehab. So again, seeing him around the locker room, you know, it’s always good to see Brian. He’s got a big smile on his face and he’s an outstanding Jet.”

Those words appear to have afforded Winters, who turned 29 two weeks ago, another green opportunity. The ball’s now in his court in terms of taking advantage of it.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Suddenly, 2020 becomes an even bigger year for Marcus Maye

As things deteriorate between the New York Jets and Jamal Adams, fellow safety Marcus Maye has a big opportunity to take over the secondary.

If and when we get a 2020 NFL season, green eyes of New York Jets observers will be on an SEC-based safety and 2017 draftee.

The object of their perusal? Former Florida Gator Marcus Maye.

The Jamal Adams roller-coaster is preparing to sink into its deepest valley, as the two-time All-Pro has repeatedly declared that “it’s time to move on”, presumably from New York. Time will only tell how this ride ends…especially with the Jets holding most, if not all, of the leverage cards…but in this of New York uncertainty, Maye’s prescience undoubtedly looms even larger.

Prior to the reported Adams trade request, Maye was perhaps seen as one of the Jets’ more expendable starters. An uncertain cap situation and good amounts of money due to 2019 splurges Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley meant that the team would likely be able to retain only one of their starting safety pair of Adams and Maye. The latter’s New York swan song appeared to be in the draft stages when general manager Joe Douglas declared the intentions of making Adams “a Jet for life” and submitted when the Jets drafted Cal-Berkeley alum Ashtyn Davis in the third round of April’s draft. Maye’s 2020 season, the final year of the rookie deal inked after the Jets chose him 33 picks after Adams in the 2017 selections, was set up to be an audition for potential new suitors.

Suddenly, with Adams seeking new surroundings, an opportunity has opened for the free safety, an opportunity that could make him a vital part of the most optimistic period the Jets’ perpetual new century rebuild has experienced.

Just four years removed from his draft day, Maye is already one of the most experienced members of the Jets. Only linebacker Jordan Jenkins and blocker Brian Winters have spent more time in the New York starting lineup. At 27, he is already a trusted face in the Jets’ lineup and someone that members of a young secondary can turn to.

“He’s been consistent, he’s been consistent,” Jets head coach Adam Gase said about Maye, per Charles McDonald of the New York Daily News. “He’s reliable, he’s probably one of the smarter players that we have on defense. His knowledge of football is outstanding. He’s one of those guys where it’s kinda like having an extra quarterback on the field in the secondary.”

That figures to be a trend extending into the new decade. The Jets are thin at safety depth, as potential Adams contingencies on the current roster (Davis and Matthias Farley) are dangerously low on meaningful game action. Fortunately for New York, if Adams indeed fulfills his promises of transferring, they have a seasoned, effective defender that has risen and fallen with the roller-coaster endeavors of the National Football League in a short timespan.

The 2019 campaign was a year of redemption for Maye. In a season where the length of the Jets’ weekly injury report could rival that of a CVS receipt, Maye stayed healthy after numerous injuries kept him out of 10 games the year prior. He went on to become one of two Jets defenders to start all 16 games last season (the other being lineman Steve McLendon).

While Adams captured the hearts of green New Yorkers with his propensity for backfield invasions and smashmouth style of football, Maye rebuilt a reputation for consistency gained in his rookie season. He tied for the team-lead in pass breakups with Adams (7) and partook in 99 percent of all defensive snaps. His crowning moment came in a win in the MetLife Stadium finale, a 16-10 win over playoff contenders from Pittsburgh. The game saw Maye tally his first interception since the infamous 104-yard touchdown-free return in October 2019 against Denver and he broke up the potential game-winning touchdown pass on Pittsburgh’s penultimate play.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams referred to Maye as “an angel in the outfield” at free safety, per NewYorkJets.com reporter Ethan Greenberg. The final line of New York defense is a role that Maye relishes.

“It’s a huge role, just being the last line of defense,” Maye remarked to Greenberg. “You have the Mike (linebacker), but to be the quarterback of the back end, you have to get everyone lined up in the right spot, cover up for guys, make plays down the field and just be where I’m needed.”

Maye’s reemergence was noticed beyond the corridors of MetLife Stadium and One Jets Drive. In November, Pro Football Focus produced its list of the most underrated player from each of the NFL’s 32 teams. The Jets were represented by none other than Maye.

“Maye had to make a big statement in 2019, and he is doing just that so far, earning a 77.8 overall grade that currently ranks 14th among safeties,” PFF wrote after the Jets’ November win over Washington. “Maye has allowed only four catches on 455 coverage snaps and has broken up four passes along with that. The Jets may have question marks at nearly every position group on the field, but the duo of Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye just may be the best safety pairing in the entire league.”

The idea of Maye and Adams reuniting in the Jets’ secondary seems more remote than ever, but the former has a chance to make his New York mark.

2020 is a year where Myae can either impress his new squad or solidify his career and develop a foundation for his prime in his current surroundings. Speaking with Greenberg shortly after the season, he made it clear that his immediate focus is purely on green endeavors.

“It’s definitely going to be big next year because we’ve been through a year with Gregg and we know his play-calling style,” he said. “We know the feel of his game and he now has a feel of us. He knows he has a type of players that can do a lot of different things. Next year could be even better than this year and I expect that.”

Maye clearly believes that the Jets’ defense can produce big things in 2020. Whether that includes Adams or not remains to be seen. But the possible loss of one defensive leader could well give way to another.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

Does New York Jets’ rookie safety Ashtyn Davis make Marcus Maye expendable?

New York Jets, Ashtyn Davis

When the New York Jets drafted Ashtyn Davis in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft, most people didn’t know much about him. Davis is a blazing fast safety who left his mark at Cal, Playing in 11 games as a senior last season, tallying 55 total tackles, two interceptions, four passes defended, and two forced fumbles.

I believe Davis has the ability to adapt to a free safety position, but I don’t think he is capable of being a single high-style safety. He has the mobility and excellent speed, but his anticipation and ability to diagnose plays can be delayed.

Nonetheless, he has the tangible traits to continue developing into a quality player, possibly supplanting Marcus Maye at the position.

Jim McGill of bearinsider.com told New York Jets.com:

“Ashtyn has a unique blend of speed and power and strength and athleticism that you just love to see in a defensive back,” McGill told newyorkjets.com‘s Olivia Landis. “He’s long at 6’1″, he’s got good size at 200 pounds. And to be able to move that quickly at that size is a huge benefit for a safety.”

“Ashtyn’s a really unique guy. His back story growing up in Santa Cruz [CA], he had a lot of challenges he had to deal with and he’s always been a very focused invididual,” McGill said. “He’s just a guy that works really hard. … He had a lot of support throughout his collegeiate career and he’s taken that work ethic to the next level. Jets fans, I think, will see a guy who’s going to outwork virtually anybody on that roster.”

Aside from his physical abilities, Davis is a hard-working player that’s been around the block. He will bring tenacity and confidence to the Jets’ secondary, and his competitive nature will allow him to compete for a potential starting gig down the line.
The factors I love most about Davis is his motor and fearlessness dropping into the box and playing against the run. While his size might not indicate he can play a strong safety position, he might be better suited in two high-safety looks and moving up closer to the line of scrimmage. His tackling technique is solid and is incredibly tough, which says to me that defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will likely aggressively utilize him.
With that being said, I don’t believe he will steal Maye’s position, simply because he doesn’t have the ball skills and coverage ability compared to the fourth-year player. Nonetheless, they can both earn starting reps and influence the team in a positive way.

Can the New York Jets extract the best from former CFL star Anthony Cioffi?

New York Jets, Anthony Cioffi

Can the New York Jets find gold in CFL standout Anthony Cioffi?

Anthony Cioffi was just your typical Jersey boy. Except he’s a freak athlete. Oh, and he was a 2012 state champion in the 100-meter dash, excelled at football, and earned honors there. Ultimately, he ended up at Rutgers and, you guessed it — excelled there with 122 tackles, eight interceptions, and 2.5 sacks in 122 games. Surprisingly, he went undrafted and signed with the Raiders following the 2017 draft. Cioffi didn’t make the team out of training camp and ended up in the CFL. While there, he made a name for himself.

Cioffi Controlled the CFL

In 33 games, Cioffi had 97 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 3 FFs, and 2 INTs. Cioffi was a hybrid defensive back and was used all over the field. His impressive speed allowed him to be used just about anywhere on the field.

Cioffi built a reputation as one of the best defensive players in Canada. He succeeded in a hybrid role, as a linebacker, he had great sideline to sideline ability. As a safety, he was dominant in coverage and tackling. Cioffi projects as a safety with Gang Green mainly because he’s undersized to be a linebacker at the pro level.

Cioffi’s Fit With the Jets

Cioffi could play a few roles for the Jets. The Jets could use more special teams depth, and his speed would make him an immediate asset. As a gunner, he could use his speed to make the tackles which he’s also good at. As a safety, he could make the roster because of his upside. With the Jets’ current safety issues in regards to Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye needing a new deal soon, if a trade occurs or a surprise move, Cioffi could gain some playing time.

The more reps Cioffi gains, the more he could shine. Looking at his playstyle, Cioffi could be an attractive scheme fit under Gregg Williams’s defense. However, his fit within special teams will likely be his best selling point to make the roster.