New York Jets: Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson can’t mix

If the New York Jets quarterback quandary is truly down to Sam Darnold and Zach Wilson, there must be no stalemate.

There’s no telling exactly when the New York Jets started thinking of having someone other than Sam Darnold in their franchise quarterback role. The only facts behind the case are that the situation is active and will be resolved by the evening of April 29, when the team chooses second in the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland.

But what if the situation stretches beyond April, into the warmer months? The only way to do that would be to keep Sam Darnold and draft Zach Wilson…a situation the Jets must avoid at every cost.

No matter when this proverbial game of musical chairs began, some of the contestants have dropped out, opted to join other games, or both. One seat, that of the franchise quarterback role, remains, and it appears that two players circle it while the music plays: Darnold and Wilson.

As those other seats fill across the league, the incumbent Darnold remains a Jet with the team does their due diligence on his potential replacement. With Urban Meyer more or less eliminating any draft day surprises vis a vis Trevor Lawrence, draft day attention now turns to the Jets in the second slot. The consensus No.2 has become BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, who wowed many at his Provo-based pro day with Mahomes-like tosses. Among the awed was the Jets’ representative triumvirate of head coach Robert Saleh, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, and general manager Joe Douglas. The idea that Saleh and LaFleur’s former Bay Area comrades, equally perplexed over their own passing situation in San Francisco, traded to the third, not second, slot with Miami instead of the Jets served only to fuel the idea that Darnold’s green days were numbered.

If Wilson is truly on his way, a new debate is spawned: what to do with Darnold? One of the more fascinating “what if” situations on the modern NFL landscape is envisioning Darnold’s career if the Jets hired someone…heck, anyone…at head coach other than Adam Gase. The team has stocked up on affordable/bargain offensive weaponry this offseason that could provide Darnold some long-awaited professional stability.

But if Wilson is the way the Jets want to go…the Jets must cut ties with Darnold at all costs. The idea that this team can make it through a situation where two quarterbacks in their early 20s are on the same roster seems dubious at best. If Wilson’s Jets career begins, Darnold’s must end.

There’s no doubt that an incoming franchise thrower can benefit from having a veteran work alongside him, even through competition. That’s exactly how Darnold’s New York career began, after all, as he worked alongside Josh McCown for a season. But Darnold, set to turn 24 in June, isn’t exactly at the “veteran mentor” stage of his career. This is a quarterback who has displayed fleeting flashes of brilliance, enough for the casual observer to wonder if it’s a miracle in itself that he was able to briefly shine in the first place.

With the Jets cleaning their coaching house, there’s an opportunity to see Darnold work with a new staff. The idea of quarterback competition at camp could be interesting, especially if preseason games return this summer. Some might see Darnold as a reliable safety net if the unthinkable happens to the rookie, Wilson or otherwise. But when you’re trapped in a perpetual rebuild…one that just might see a light at the end of its tunnel…that’s not worth it. A Jets team divided amongst itself…especially at the quarterback position…cannot stand.

The Jets are in a position where they might finally be starting to right their ship. Whereas the hire of Gase was praised only by the hot take artists, players both domestic and abroad lauded the arrival of Saleh. It’d make sense to follow his vision as precisely as they can. At the same time, it means minimizing controversy, vital for a team whose smallest abnormalities are turned into memes because the mere concept of “LOL Jets” gets clicks.

There’s also no use in pulling Wilson’s leg, which the exact message that keeping Darnold sends. How can he ease into the franchise quarterback role when a young player who may be equally capable…the Jets still don’t know…is sitting behind him? It’s one thing to bring an experienced mentor whose full-time starting days are probably behind him (i.e. Alex Smith/Brian Hoyer) or a relative veteran who’s proven reliable in a pinch (i.e. Nick Mullens/Blake Bortles). But to continue to work with a young quarterback and push him back to a backup role creates a problem where there doesn’t need to be.

The situation works on both sides. Though the scenario appears to become more remote with each passing day, there’s still a chance that Darnold could stay. If that’s the case, it’d be silly to say Darnold’s the starter and have the second overall pick breathing down his neck. Fans are set to return to MetLife Stadium this fall and the last thing Darnold would need is a chant for Wilson’s insertion every time he throws an incompletion.

While Saleh has carved out a hopeful path, he inherits a mess from the depths of the football netherworld that, again, needs little exacerbation. The defensive-minded Saleh must settle the uncertain secondary situation in the post-Jamal Adams era, while he and his offensive assistants also have to figure out an offensive line picture that, the arrival of Dan Feeney notwithstanding, doesn’t look much different from last season’s. To worry about the quarterback situation is simply thinking about another problem the Jets can ill-afford.

New York football will have its share of problems beyond April 29. With a glimmer at the end of the tunnel of rebuilding, but countless other turns to tackle in it, this quarterback issue can’t go beyond that.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets land DE Vinny Curry: What does he bring?

The New York Jets have now added a former Super Bowl champion in former Eagles edge rusher Vinny Curry. Curry joins the Jets on a one-year, $1.3 million dollar deal. Curry garnered interest from the Jets last offseason but ultimately returned to Philadelphia, now with Robert Saleh in the fold, Curry becomes another piece for Saleh to play with on defense. So, how will the veteran rusher impact the team?

Last season, Curry put up 3.0 sacks, 3 TFLs and 10 QB Hits as a rotational edge rusher for the Eagles. In three seasons before that, Curry had a total of 10.5 sacks, 90 tackles, 20 TFLs, 37 QB Hits and a forced fumble. Although he is north of 30 (will be 33 by Week one), the New Jersey native brings productivity and experience to the edge spot as a rotational presence.

Curry has had exceptional seasons in the past with 9.0 sacks and 4+ forced turnovers just a few years ago, but if Curry can at the very least replicate what he did last season he will be an asset to the team.

The Jets will still likely need to add another edge in the draft, but it is clear Joe Douglas is not messing around with making additions to the defense. By adding Carl Lawson, Sheldon Rankins, and now Curry, the team continues to make the defensive front a point in order to built a legitimate presence heading into the Robert Saleh era.

In analyzing the way this defense is being outlined, it is already being formulated similarly to the 49ers Super Bowl front with Buckner, Bosa, Thomas and others. If the Jets can institute even a semblance of that they are on their way to success.

New York Jets: Is this the end of the road for Jordan Jenkins in green and white?

New York Jets, Jordan Jenkins

Jordan Jenkins has been regarded as the New York Jets‘ best pass rusher for the past few years. Jenkins was rumored to be leaving the team last season, but Jenkins came back for another year under Gregg Williams on a prove-it deal. Jenkins was projected to be the lead disruptor for the team this season. Instead, amongst all the bad on the team this year, his underwhelming performance has flown under the radar.

His Poor Performance

Last season, Jenkins hit career highs in sacks, TFLs, deflections and tied his career high in forced fumbles. He ended the season with 32 tackles, 8.0 sacks, 9 TFLs, 2 FFs and 3 deflections. The years before that, in 3 seasons, he showed consistent production increases in his pass-rushing stats. In his rookie year, he put up 2.5 sacks, 2 TFLs, and 3 QB Hits. Then, he had a sophomore jump slightly to 3.0 sacks, 5 TFLs, and 9 QB Hits. Then, prior to his big year last year, he had 7.0 sacks, 6 TFLs, and 15 QB Hits. Jenkins was evidently growing and at 26, was projected to be the potential lead pass rusher for the Jets.

Then, this season he has taken a big production hit. In 12 games, Jenkins has 31 tackles, 2.0 sacks, a FF, 2 TFLs, and 6 QB Hits. Jenkins still has 4 games left to take a statistical jump, but he has not been able to replicate any disruption that he shown in previous seasons. Jordan has failed to bring any sense of true disruption in the backfield this season and it is rather concerning. So why did Jenkins take a big dip this season?

Why the dip in production?

Coming into the season on a prove-it deal, Jenkins needed a big year. The thing is, the Jets significantly depleted the resources around him. The Jets most prolific disruptor the past few seasons was Jamal Adams. When Adams was shipped to Seattle, the Jets pass rush took a hit. As one of the leading pass rushers for the team in the past few years, there is a deep background to why he is called, “Blitz Boy” now. In all honesty though, where Adams excelled and still does excel in Seattle is in the pass rush. Teams knew this and worked to prevent him from breaking through. This opened up a huge opportunity for a guy like Jenkins to step up and capitalize off the attention Adams garnered.

Without Adams, Jenkins has drawn a lot more attention from opposing teams this season facing more double teams then he did in past years. Not only that, but the Jets have had some low level secondaries during his time in New York, but this season they have one of their worst yet. Simply put, Jenkins has a lot less time to rush the passer than before and a lot more work to do to get there.

This is in no means an excuse for his dip though, this was purely the reasoning. With that said, the Jets have relied on Jenkins to be a key piece in this defense for the past few years. He has been a leader and a vocal one at that. The thing is, the Jets don’t need a complimentary pass rusher, they need a dominant one. Jenkins deserves to go to a competitive football team and get a chance to succeed. He is a talented piece, he needs help around him to succeed though in terms of an outside pass rush and the Jets don’t have that. The Jets will look to get that kind of player this offseason to capitalize off the massive jump Quinnen Williams has taken with his interior pass rush. However, the Jets don’t need to throw money at a complimentary pass rusher that is not as imperative to success as some other positions. Jenkins deserves to get to play that compliment role elsewhere and the Jets deserve a chance to allocate resources elsewhere.

4 players the New York Jets should be thankful for

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton

Happy Thanksgiving, Jets fans! Unfortunately (maybe fortunately for our appetites) the Jets do not play today. At 0-10, the Jets are in the midst of one of their worst starts in franchise history.

Here are four New York Jets players to be thankful for:

Mekhi Becton LT

Mekhi Becton has been the biggest bright spot for the Jets this season. The eleventh overall pick has broken out immediately and asserted himself as one of the top tackles in the league.

Becton is already leading the Pro Bowl votes for offensive tackles. Becton has been an absolute force this season with a PFF grade of 73.9 and easy handling of premier pass rushers like Joey and Nick Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Frank Clark, among others. Becton has emerged as a franchise left tackle throughout this season, and he provides a huge (literally) building block for the future. The Jets struck gold on Mt. Becton.

Braden Mann P

Braden Mann being selected was viewed by some as a curious pick in the 6th round when the Jets had such a need at receiver. However, the former college star has been a breakout piece. Now, purely off stats, Mann has a 44.8 average in terms of a yard per punt, which only ranks 19th in the league, but his sample size is the largest in the league at 50, which is an excessive amount for punters. With a floundering offense, Mann gets a lot of work, and the fact that as a rookie, he already is in the pro bowl consideration and being a consistent punter is very impressive. Special teams do matter, and the future for the Jets groups is all the brighter with Braden in it.

Denzel Mims WR

Denzel Mims was out for the first 6 games this season, despite that, he has broken out in a big way. Mims currently sits at 13 receptions for 217 yards, with an average of 16.7 yards per reception. He has averaged around 54.3 yards per game and been a consistent producer for the Jets with their QB issues. Mims has made some really spectacular catches, though, that have really opened eyes. His beautiful sideline catch against the Chargers Sunday was just another example of his phenomenal hands. What the Jets offense needs to do is maximize his catch radius and start throwing him more targets in the red zone. Despite missing time, Mims figures to still put up above-average numbers this season, and he figures to be a great piece for the future.

Quinnen Williams DT

Arguably the biggest breakout star of the Jets season is the former third overall pick, Quinnen Williams. Last season Williams had 28 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 4 TFLs, 6 QB Hits, and a FR. This season, in only 10 games, Williams has 34 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 7 TFLs, 7 QB Hits, and a FF. Williams has already exceeded his rookie campaign in only nine games that he has played in this season. Williams still has six games to continue to build onto his breakout season. Williams has displayed a real visible growth in his play as well. Last season he seemed a lot weaker and less developed. He still has a long way to go, but he has looked much quicker and more refined this season, and that is a huge thing to be thankful for in the trenches in the future.

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

New York Jets, Gregg Williams

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

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

Dennard Wilson Deserves A Shot

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

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

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

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