New York Jets schedule: Why Week 2 looms particularly large

National eyes have turned to the New York Jets’ opening matchup in Charlotte, but the home opener against New England will be a true test.

For all its flaws, the NFL status as a genius marketing behemoth cannot be denied.

Its draft is no longer two days in April expanding into a year-round process, a major tenet of which involves a lot of Indianapolis-based spandex and bench presses. Preseason games whose box scores are immediately scorched when the clock hits all zeroes get ratings are given national priority alongside late-season baseball games.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of the NFL’s stranglehold on the American imagination is the release of its annual schedule. The question of “who” yields no surprises…14 of a given team’s 17 opponents are predetermined years in advance and 17 are solidified by the end of final week action…but the question of “when”, the mere attachment of times and dates to these matchups, causes We the People to lose our collective minds. Playoff races in basketball and hockey are cast aside on national highlights show to debate whether the Chicago Bears deserved the Thanksgiving treatment.

Despite the relative lack of surprises, the New York Jets did learn some intriguing info. Though bereft of prime time games, save for a November Thursday night’s excursion to Indianapolis, the Jets will nonetheless study abroad in London, facing off with Atlanta in October. But the matchup everyone’s talking about comes in the Jets’ Week 1 visit to Charlotte to battle the Carolina Panthers.

By now, everyone knows what’s at stake at Bank of America Stadium come September 12: the hope of the Jets’ present and future meets the ghost of all-too-recent football past in the form of Sam Darnold (and Robby Anderson, among others). Despite the combatants carrying over a combined six wins from 2020, many have pegged the interconference showdown as one of the most anticipated get-togethers of opening weekend.

Opening with Carolina works from a Jets perspective in the sense that they can remove Darnold from their list of early “distractions” and carry on with the rest of what’s sure to be a developmental year. But, to that end, their home opener in Week 2 may loom even larger.

For their 2021 home opener, the Jets will welcome the New England Patriots into East Rutherford for the first of their yearly pair. What happens for those precious three hours at MetLife Stadium could well set a permanent tone for what the Jets’ leadership triumvirate of Joe Douglas, Woody Johnson, and Robert Saleh are trying to build.

Put aside the fact that three Presidents of the United States have held office and 11 Marvel Cinematic Universe films have been released since the Jets have emerged victorious from a showdown with the Patriots. Zach Wilson’s presumed home opener will mean everything to a Jets team that must do everything in its power to get started on the right note.

It might feel like an eternity since the Jets had a winning record, but one only has to flashback to September 2018. A 48-17 win over the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football had the fanbase buzzing. The fact that Sam Darnold’s first NFL pass was a pick-six was offset by a strong defensive effort (five turnovers) and the run game run up 179 on the ground. Darnold even made up for his early gaffe with two touchdown tosses in the dominant effort.

However, things came to a crashing halt in the MetLife Stadium opener against Miami. Facing off against future boss Adam Gase, the Jets surrendered the first 20 points before making things somewhat respectable late in a 20-12 loss. It was a sloppy game whose final score was nowhere near indicative of just how one-sided it was.

Now, the Darnold/Gase era didn’t falter solely because they lost to the Dolphins in Week 2 of the former’s rookie campaign. But, in hindsight, it served as perfect foreshadowing of the struggles to come: they turned the ball over three times, saw their rushing protection fall to 41 yards on 17 attempts, and allowed Darnold to get sacked three times. Penalties were prevalent, with the Jets losing 50 yards on seven infractions. Three resulted in Miami’s first downs and a particularly embarrassing sequence

The Jets are still trying to pick up the pieces to this day. That loss signaled the beginning of the end of the Todd Bowles era, mustering a mere three wins after that before he was let go at the end of his third season at the helm. It placed the Jets on a collision course with the disastrous Gase era, a period whose strongest yield was probably the fact it led the hiring of a sound football mind like Saleh, whose arrival has garnered praise both domestically and abroad.

Miami was merely a microcosm of what was to come under Darnold, as it highlighted the issues that would plague his star-crossed New York career. Of the ten starting men that suited up for the Jets that afternoon, only one other (Chris Herndon) was on the team in 2020. The Dolphins were credited with only three sacks of Darnold, but he was nonetheless forced to run for his life, to the tune of five other quarterback takedowns.

Negligence on both the offensive line (featuring only one player chosen within the first day of the draft, the former Seattle Seahawk James Carpenter) and run game (Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell) was a hint of things to come. Current management has seen to counter these issues, using first-round choices (Mehki Becton/Alijah Vera-Tucker) to protect Wilson and bolstering the run game with a stopgap rusher who has been a vital cog in Super Bowl runs (Tevin Coleman).

This season’s home opener is also going to take on a special meaning. Improvements have been discussed ad nauseam but MetLife Stadium will be packed to the brim with fans for a Jets game for the first time since December 2019. We, the football-loving people, have been through a lot over the past year-plus. Fans of the Jets and 13 other NFL teams were denied the simple pleasure of spending Sunday in a parking lot, surrounded by 80,000 of their new best friends. With restrictions loosening across the country, it feels (knock on wood) like it’s only a matter of time before all 30 NFL facilities get the go-ahead to pack the house. No matter the result that day, the first spelling of Jets will be downright emotional.

A brilliant tone can be set for the team moving forward, or another distressing sign of things to come could emerge. What the Jets do in these early hours will mean the world.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

There’s a “pretty good” chance that MetLife Stadium is fully open in 2021

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy was optimistic about capacity crowds returning to MetLife Stadium for New York Jets and Giants games.

New Jersey’s woebegone NFL squads have made some improvements this offseason and spectators may be able to witness the transformation in person.

In video provided by NJ.com, Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy announced on Tuesday that the “prospects are pretty good” when it comes to fans filling MetLife Stadium for the 2021 NFL season. The East Rutherford home of the New York Giants and Jets was one of 11 NFL stadiums that did not admit fans at any point last season.

“I’d say the prospects are pretty good,” Murphy said about the possibility in a briefing in Trenton, declaring that filling all 82,500 seats will be dependent on the promising declining numbers in regards to the ongoing health crisis. COVID-19 hospitalizations in New Jersey are at their lowest point since October. Social distancing at such games would by recommendations from the Center for Disease Control.

MetLife Stadium has not hosted a sporting event with fans since February 2020, when just over 12,000 attendees watched the XFL tilt between the New York Guardians and Los Angeles Wildcats. Its next scheduled event is a Guns N’ Roses concert on August 5. New Jersey’s outdoor venues can open to 50 percent capacity on Friday.

“If we blow through our objectives, there’s a lot higher likelihood the Jets and Giants can sell more tickets,” Murphy said.

The 2021 NFL schedule will be released on Wednesday night, with the season expected to begin on Thursday, September 9 with a game presumably hosted by the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tom Brady and Bucs will make a stop at MetLife to play the Jets later this season, as will the Jacksonville Jaguars, the latter game presumably setting up a matchup between Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, the first players chosen in the 2021 NFL Draft. Among the Giants’ most anticipated home matchups is their yearly divisional tilt with the Philadelphia Eagles, who visit MetLife Stadium twice this year (taking on the Jets as part of the NFL’s addition of a new game to the schedule).

As vaccines continue to be distributed across the country, fans are returning to outdoor venues in larger numbers. MLB’s Atlanta Braves opened to full capacity on May 7 in Georgia, while NASCAR events at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Darlington Raceway, Daytona International Speedway, and Kansas Speedway will likewise be run in front of full crowds.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Tim Tebow is reportedly back in the NFL, and that’s perfectly fine

new york jets, tim tebow

Questions can be raised about Tim Tebow’s NFL comeback, but it’s fair to give him one last chance in a new role.

Tim Tebow more than likely won’t be getting a video tribute on the MetLife Stadium videoboards this fall. It remains to be seen whether Tebow will be on the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 53-man roster when Duval County’s finest hit the road to battle the New York Jets. For now, however, it appears that the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, two-time college football national champion, and overall accoladed quarterback will spend at least a little time in teal and back.

Reports from Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reveal that the 33-year-old Tebow will attempt to resume an NFL career that fizzled out in 2015. Tebow reunites with his college coach Urban Meyer, the two previously having united for collegiate fireworks at the University of Florida, but plans to move to tight end while 2021’s top overall pick Trevor Lawrence assumes the franchise quarterback role.

Tebow has not partaken in a regular season football game since December 2012, when he played a single drive in an ugly showdown with the Jake Locker-led Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football. The 14-10 slog is perhaps best known for five Mark Sanchez turnovers and eliminating the Jets from playoff contention.

Tebow’s reported rearrival has sent shockwaves at a rare dull period on the football timeline. Per ESPN’s Jeff Darlington, “not everybody (in Jacksonville’s building is thrilled” about the potential Tebow deal. The debate has amongst observers and analysts.

Some are interested to see what Tebow can do at tight end, a transition that has been debated ever since Tebow was preparing for the 2010 draft. Others have had their fill of Tebow, including New York sports fans who have now seen him invade both their football and baseball circles, as Tebow’s new NFL beginning stems from the end of a minor league baseball career in the New York Mets’ system. More observers wonder why Tebow has been invited back to the NFL while another polarizing quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, has not.

One can fully wonder why Tebow, whose last official football action is a 2015 training camp stint in Philadelphia, was invited back. A common argument against the reinsertion of Kaepernick, having moved onto activism and a partnership with Nike, is that it would cause too much of a media frenzy, though Tebow’s signing has caused quite a stir as is…even without an official announcement from the Jaguars. These are all fair questions to ask, debates to be staged.

But when it comes to Tebow the individual, it’s fair to grant him what likely amounts to a final professional football opportunity.

For one thing, a regular season roster spot is anything but guaranteed. Jacksonville is currently equipped with five tight ends, including fellow two-sport star and former Carolina Panther Chris Manhertz (previously a three-year captain with Canisius’ basketball team), fifth-round pick Luke Farrell, and veteran re-signee James O’Shaughnessy. Tebow’s going to need to earn his way onto the Week 1 roster, and it’s an uphill battle in a role he has never played.

Succeeding in unfamiliar roles has been something Tebow had gotten used to during his baseball career. It’s fair to say that Tebow was never destined for Queens, but he managed to put up respectable numbers, particularly at the AA level in 2018 (.273, 6 home runs, 36 runs batted in). Those numbers could’ve been well inflated by the end of the year (on a roster that included current Mets slugger Pete Alonso) had Tebow not suffered a season-ending finger injury.

Those numbers did plummet once Tebow moved onto the AAA level. His most recent baseball travels…time in the Mets’ shortened spring training proceedings…weren’t pretty (.154, six strikeouts in 18 plate appearances), but he did manage to go out on a relatively high note, hitting a home run off MLB veteran Alex Wilson in a spring training tilt against the Detroit Tigers.

One could argue whether Tebow was used as a sideshow of sorts, a cog in the “Same Old Mets” machine. But the baseball player that hadn’t played competitively since 2005…his junior year of high school…made it clear to his observers that he was serious about this trial, no matter the challenges thrust upon him.

“What he’s doing and the strides I’ve seen him make from last year to this year, that’s impressive,” then-Binghamton pitching coach and 1988 Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola told Rob Centorani of The Press & Sun-Bulletin in 2018. “He doesn’t have to do this, but he chose to do it and he’s working as hard as anyone, if not harder. It’s a great story but very difficult.

“There’s so much instinctual stuff from baseball that you learn as a kid all the way up. When you take a hiatus like he did, it’s hard. He’s 30 years old, but he’s still trying to learn.”

Adding to Tebow’s current football cause, and why it shouldn’t matter on a broader NFL landscape, is that Jacksonville is a team with relatively little to lose. They’ve chosen in the top ten in all but one of the past 14 NFL Drafts, their one shining moment being a “stolen” Super Bowl appearance in 2017. If Lawrence doesn’t pan out, he simply lands in the same category as other false throwing saviors like Blake Bortles or Blaine Gabbert.

In other words, it’s the perfect place for Tebow.

Unlike his arrival to a Jets team on the decline in 2012, one mired with questions at quarterback at the end of the Sanchez era. That Jets squad was one tailor-made for the rise of the social media era, one packed to the brim with personalities, none more boisterous than their head coach Rex Ryan. It was there Tebow resided while at the height of his professional powers.

Tebow, of course, was coming off a year as the Denver Broncos’ primary quarterback after they chose him 25th overall in the 2010 selections. His box scores weren’t always pretty and he had the services of a budding defense featuring future Super Bowl champions like rookie Von Miller. He did however often manage to work with what the defense gave him and contribute to the final score in the process. That trend was prominently on display in a November win over Kansas City, when Tebow completed only 2-of-8 passes in a 17-10 triumph over the Chiefs. He was nonetheless responsible for two Denver scores, running in a seven-yard score before hooking up with Eric Decker for a 56-yard de facto winner in the fourth quarter.

Yet, Tebowmania grew through a series of uncanny, unconventional fourth quarter comebacks, one of which was achieved in a Thursday night thriller against the Jets. A jaw-dropping 95-yard scoring drive to end a nationally televised tilt served as Tebowmania’s outbreak and fueled Denver to the AFC West title. The Broncos even earned a playoff win over Pittsburgh…one that ended with Tebow finding Demaryius Thomas for an 80-yard overtime score…before the New England Patriots did New England Patriots things in the Divisional round.

That season should’ve proven that Tebow had the skill and talent to serve as a capable, serviceable quarterback in the NFL…a Chad Pennington/David Garrard type. But when the legendary Peyton Manning became available, Denver had no choice but to make the switch and prematurely end Tebow’s days as a long-term franchise quarterback.

The subsequent trade to the Jets (sending two draft picks out to the Rocky Mountains) came at the worst possible time for a young quarterback…one already attracting caravans of cameras due to his collegiate career and public religious displays…trying to find his NFL place. What resulted was a volatile mix of coverage, silliness, and excess, trends only exacerbated by the rise of “embrace debate” culture that continues to dominate modern sports media.

To their credit, the Jets often spoke of using Tebow in non-conventional settings, almost becoming a Taysom Hill-type player before the latter left his mark on New Orleans and the league as a whole. Alas, the Jets were never able to implement Tebow the way they wanted to. He was used mostly on special teams and through the Wildcat offense, but it didn’t stop observers’ insatiable appetite for Tebow coverage.

Even though Tebow had fleeting flashes of New York brilliance…he converted a 23-yard fake punt using his trademark jump pass as a personal protector in a win over Indianapolis…the Jets failed to consistently work him into their system. Several players later anonymously ripped Tebow and eventually, it became too much trouble to keep a backup quarterback with that kind of baggage. He was released by the Jets the following year and failed to catch on to a 53-man roster after training camp stints with New England and Philadelphia.

Before Tebow left the NFL behind, former Jets coach Herm Edwards later told USA Today Sports that he didn’t understand the criticism.

“He’s done nothing wrong,” Edwards said to Jim Corbett. “All he’s done every day is come to work, and he’s working hard every day. And they blasted the guy. Like, really? I could see if he was playing.”

Now, the cycle begins anew in Jacksonville, an ideal place for Tebow to create something new of an NFL career. It’s downright peaceful compared to New York and he won’t be relied upon to win games or turn the tide. In addition to Lawrence, the Jaguars are packed to the brim with young talent acquired through drafts past and present.

Again, there are certainly questions to be raised about how and why Tebow will make it back to the NFL. But it isn’t fair to level those quandaries against him personally. One can certainly question the sense of cronyism that seems rampant through professional sports…just look at how many retreads appear in head coaching spots during the annual winter searches…but it isn’t fair to question Tebow’s work ethic and dedication to his craft. If the Jaguars’ biggest problem is having Tebow…whose foundation has been remained active in off-field issues like human trafficking…on their roster, that would bring about welcome normalcy to Duval.

Questions can be asked about the details of this situation, and rightfully so. But one look at Tebow’s sporting career shows that if he does make it Jacksonville for Week 1…and makes that appearance against the Jets in East Rutherford…it will be earned.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets announce the release of six players

In the aftermath of the NFL Draft, the New York Jets released six veteran players from their roster on Friday.

The New York Jets announced the release of the following veteran players on Friday morning:

CB Kyron Brown-Brown signed as an undrafted free agent out of Akron after the 2019 draft but spent all of last season on the physically unable to perform list after suffering a quad injury. He partook in three games in green, including one starts, all during the 2019 campaign.

TE Connor Davis-A Stony Brook alum, Davis didn’t partake in any Jets regular seasons games with the Jets but had previous professional experience in the AAF (Birmingham Iron) and XFL (St. Louis BattleHawks.

WR Josh Doctson-The former first round pick out of TCU signed with the Jets last season after four years between Washington and Minnesota but opted out of the 2020 season.

C Leo Koloamatangi-Another 2020 opt-out, Koomatangi had been on and off the Jets’ active roster but did not appear in any regular season games. He previously spent time on Detroit’s practice squad, entering the league as an undrafted free agent out of Hawaii.

K Chase McLaughlin-It appears the Jets’ kicking competition will come down to incumbent Sam Ficken and undrafted free agent Chris Naggar from Southern Methodist. McLaughlin, who appeared on the roster of six other teams before his New York arrival, converted two extra points in the Jets’ season finale in New England.

WR Jaleel Scott-A former fourth-round pick in Baltimore, Scott was added to the Jets’ practice squad after he was part of the Ravens’ final round of camp cuts. He appeared in one game with New York last season, earning a 16-yard reception in the Jets’ December loss to Seattle.

In addition to the cuts, the Jets also place safety Saquan Hampton on the reserve/physically unable to perform list. Hampton joined the Jets in December and partook in a single game, during which he ruptured his Achilles tendon. The Hamilton, NJ native was a sixth-round pick in New Orleans during the 2019 selections.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets claim former San Francisco WR Matt Cole

New York Jets

Cole, the newest New York Jet, partook in his first NFL action alongside Mike LaFleur in San Francisco last season.

The New York Jets announced the claiming of former San Francisco receiver Matt Cole on Wednesday. Cole, 24, reunites with Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, who served as the 49ers’ passing game coordinator last season.

Cole emerged from Division II McKendree, where he earned a reputation as a superstar in yardage. His total tally of 3,583 all-purpose yards over four seasons was good for fourth all-time in program history. He ended his career by setting single season marks with 939 receiving yards and 12 touchdown receptions.

That senior season was also punctuated by a strong showing in the return game, where Cole had 208 yards on 26 returns. He also registered 18 tackles on special teams, earning the Great Lakes Valley Conference’s Special Teams Player of the Year honor, as well as an appearance for his receiving efforts on the all-conference team.

The Chicago native began last season on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad. As an undrafted free agent, he was the first McKendree alum to appear in an NFL system. He remained on the Dolphins’ practice squad for most of the season, save for a stint on the COVID-19 list in November. The 49ers signed Cole to their active roster in December and he made his regular season debut in their final game of the season just over a week later. In a narrow loss to Seattle, Cole had two special teams tackles. San Francisco released Cole on May 4 but he has now been claimed by New York.

Cole joins a Jets receiving corps that added veterans Corey Davis and Keelan Cole as well as rookie Elijah Moore through the draft. Incumbents Jamison Crowder and Denzel Mims likewise return. He could well compete for the Jets’ primary returning duties, likely set to compete with incumbents Corey Ballentine and Braxton Berrios.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

New York Jets DL Quinnen Williams out for OTAs and minicamp (Report)

New York Jets, Quinnen Williams

Per NFL Network, the New York Jets’ 2019 first-round pick is set to miss considerable time with a foot injury.

Per Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo of NFL Network, New York Jets defensive lineman Quinnen Williams will miss 8-10 weeks after breaking a small bone in his foot while working out at the team’s Florham Park facility. The injury effectively wipes out Williams’ participation in OTAs and minicamp.

According to Garafolo, Williams was doing on-field work when the injury occurred. Both reports from Pelissero and Garafolo indicate that Williams should be ready to go for training camp in August as well as the Jets’ Week 1 contest in September.

Nevertheless, the injury is a hard blow for a Jets team coming off the good vibes of a sizable yield at the NFL Draft in Cleveland. Williams, chosen third in the 2019 proceedings, enjoyed a breakthrough season last year, putting up 55 tackles, including seven sacks, and forcing two fumbles. As a rare silver lining in the Jets’ disastrous 2020 season, Williams received an All-Pro vote from the Associated Press for his efforts.

Under new head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, the Jets are expected to implement a 4-3 defense for the first time since the Herman Edwards days. Williams moved from tackle to end in 2020 and could be replaced on the first team by incoming veterans Vinny Curry and Sheldon Rankins. An opportunity could also be presented for Kyle Phillips, who returns after missing most of last season with an ankle injury. Phillips made the 2019 squad as an undrafted free agent and earned 39 tackles, nine for a loss, during his debut campaign. The Jets mostly focused on the secondary during their defensive splurge in the final day of the draft on Saturday but did welcome in tackle Jonathan Marshall with their final pick of the sixth round.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

What’s next? A post-NFL Draft checklist for the New York Jets

New York Jets, Brian Poole

Draft weekend is over, but the New York Jets still have several needs to fill before they take to the practice field.

The New York Jets’ work in Cleveland is done. Nine names were added during last weekend’s NFL Draft proceedings and several others have been penciled in through rookie free agency.

But the Jets’ work is nowhere near complete.

That, unfortunately, is the macabre cloud that hangs over anything the Jets do until they start winning games again. The team has earned positive reviews for their draft weekend proceedings, one headlined by the offensive additions of Zach Wilson and Alijah Vera-Tucker. But it means nothing until they at least get back into the “in the hunt” column in those NFL postseason charts that emerge on game broadcasts circa the holiday season. General manager Joe Douglas has made it clear that he has a vision, but the on-field execution awaits.

The time is ripe for making further additions, as Monday marks the end of any compensatory pick matters when it comes to free agents. What else do the Jets need in the post-Mr. Irrelevant era of the offseason? ESM investigates…

Backup Quarterback

The Jets’ current quarterback group (Zach Wilson/James Morgan/Mike White) has a grand total of zero NFL regular season passes among them. It’s great that Wilson is there as the anchor, the latest name to fill the star-crossed role of franchise quarterback. But the Jets needs to bring someone in as both a veteran mentor and someone to have in case of an emergency. They had the right idea in the final year of the Sam Darnold era through signing Joe Flacco, but he’s in Philadelphia now. Darnold attributed the success of his rookie season to working with Josh McCown and it would behoove the Jets to find a similar solution.

Alex Smith might’ve been the most attractive option in both of those regards, but he opted for retirement. Nick Mullens, he of 16 starts over three seasons under offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur in San Francisco, is also available, but, at 26, he might not be able to provide the veteran mentorship Wilson needs in his debut season. The best current option might be Brian Hoyer, who was brought in for a visit in April. Hoyer, set to enter his 13th NFL season, spent last season in New England, his third stint with the Patriots, and credits his mentorship skills from working with Tom Brady.

“I learned so much and whenever I had a question for him, he was there to give me an answer,” Hoyer said in 2017 prior to a pre-LaFleur stint in San Francisco, per Chris Biderman of Niners Wire. “For me, the best way to be a mentor…was just watch somebody do it and do it the right way. And then when they ask you questions, you give them straight-up honest answers.”

Experienced Defensive Help

Anyone complaining about the lack of defensive additions over the first two days of the draft was roundly silenced when the Jets spent all but one of their Saturday selections on defenders. But the Jets are already packed to the brim with young projects at the top of their defensive depth chart, particularly in their secondary. Rookies Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols are set to join Bless Austin, Bryce Hall, and Javelin Guidry. The franchise-tagged Marcus Maye is set to work next to sophomore Ashtyn Davis. New York even found some solid pass rushing additions through the undrafted front, including Hamilcar Rashed Jr. out of Oregon State. There’s certainly plenty to be inspired when it comes to the defensive haul, but there’s no guarantee any of them can be day one starters.

The team could use some veteran help and the current free agent bank has plenty of options. Steven Nelson, one of the stronger man-to-man coverage guys, is still around after two seasons in Pittsburgh. Inviting in Richard Sherman, who endlessly praised the hire of Robert Saleh, for at least an interview would almost be a no-brainer. The Jets could also bring back Brian Poole as a reliable nickel prescience, one that remains on the open market after injury issues last season.

The Jets emerged from the weekend with several building blocks to groom and develop. But if they’re looking to contend in the immediate future…the playoffs still seem like a pipe dream but a decent opportunity to reenter NFL relevancy…they’ll have to add some veteran defenders that can come in and contribute immediately.

Blocking Depth

The Jets must be careful with their blocking moving forward. It’s great to see they’re anchoring Wilson’s blind side with back-to-back first rounders, as Vera-Tucker will presumably be working alongside Mekhi Becton. But they took only one lineman in the weekend’s proceedings, going with box score contributors after moving up to take Vera-Tucker. Undrafted yields like New Mexico’s Teton Saltes could make some headway but some veteran finds would turn the pressure up on an offensive line that’s set to retain three starting members from a unit that ranked 29th in Pro Football Focus’ annual offensive line standings.

It’s a hole the Jets have slightly dug themselves into, curiously opting to add veteran depth options (like Dan Feeney and Corey Levin) before the draft rather than after it as other elite talents came and went. Many of the names left on the free agent front are up there in age but can serve as stopgaps or provide some extra training camp heat. Former Green Bay Packer Rick Wagner could work on the right side while the Jets solve their center woes by putting Connor McGovern up against another veteran like Joe Looney this summer until they can find a more permanent solution for Wilson. Center was among the biggest problems during the Sam Darnold era, so any form of consistency they can with the newcomer, even if it’s only temporary, can start steering this ship in the right direction.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets undrafted free agency tracker (UPDATING)

New York Jets

Follow along with ESM as we track down the New York Jets’ post-draft free agent signings and activities beyond Cleveland.

As the New York Jets sign undrafted free agents, ESM will update the list below.

(LAST UPDATED: 5/1/21, 9:20 p.m. ET)

OT Teton Saltes, New Mexico-Born on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, Saltes is the most recent winner of the Wuerffel Trophy (awarded to the college football player “who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement”) was one of the top blockers in the Mountain West. (Draft Diamonds)

TE Kenny Yeboah, Mississippi-A transfer from Temple, Yeboah spent last season working with second-round choice Elijah Moore in Oxford and put up career-best numbers (27 receptions, 524 yards, 6 touchdowns). (Matt Barrows)

LB Milo Eifler, Illinois-Eifler started his career at Washington before transferring to the Illini, where he had 63 tackles in 2019 before injuries cost him three contests last year. (Eifler)

DL Michael Dwumfour, Rutgers-Dwumfour transferred from Michigan to spend his final season in Piscataway, earning honorable mentions on the All-Big Ten team. (Dwumfour)

CB Brendon White, Rutgers-White was the Defensive MVP for Ohio State during their 2019 Rose Bowl victory over Washington. (Rutgers Football)

G Tristen Hoge, BYU-The Jets opted to add one of Zach Wilson’s protectors from Provo in Hoge, a Notre Dame. (BYU Football)

OL Grant Hermanns, Purdue-Much like some of their day three collections, Hermanns has been a strong leader off the field too, serving as one of the Boilermakers’ captains and appearing on the Big Ten’s All-Academic team. (James Yodice)

LB Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Oregon State-Rashed is best known for dominant junior year, where he set a school record with 14 sacks in 2019. (Jeremy Fowler)

OL Parker Ferguson, Air Force-This Cadet impressed the 18 teams that came to his Pro Day and has earned praise for agility and technique. (Center Grove Football)

CB Isaiah Dunn, Oregon State-At $185,000, Dunn has reportedly been inked to the richest undrafted rookie contract in post-draft history after earning 115 tackles and 18 pass breakups in his final season in Corvallis. (Aaron Wilson)

K Chris Naggar, Southern Methodist-Naggar converted 17-of-21 triple attempts last season (his longest from 48 yards out) and will likely compete with Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin. (Nathan Shackelford)

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

 

New York Jets take DT Jonathan Marshall with final scheduled choice

The New York Jets’ 2021 draft ledger is complete for the time being through the selection of the former Razorback.

The New York Jets completed their scheduled NFL Draft proceedings by taking Arkansas defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall with the 207th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Marshall started only a single year in Fayetteville but impressed on his pro day with 36 reps on the bench with a 4.77-second time on the 40-yard dash. He earned 71 tackles in his career, 11.5 for a loss. Last year was his breakthrough campaign, picking up 35 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.

“I’ve talked to several different guys about him. He’s played his way into a draftable player, I believe, and you’re not going to get a whole lot better kid than him if you take him on your football team,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said of Marshall per Otis Kirk of Pig Trail Nation So absolutely. He’s had a really good year and I’m proud for him and I believe he will get looks in the NFL.”

Marshall had problems with pressure but displayed strong power that helped him invade backfields. He also displayed leadership skills, a common theme amongst the Jets’ 2021 draft picks, as he served as the Razorbacks’ defensive captain. Arkansas would also ran the 4-3 defense as part of their base, and Marshall’s experience could help Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich implement the system faster.

Like fellow Jets draft picks Brandin Echols and Hamsah Nasirildeen, he is another multi-sport athlete, also playing basketball at Shepherd High School in Texas.

Marshall’s drafting concludes a streak of six consecutive defenders to end the Jets’ draft proceedings. They haven’t held a seventh round pick since 2016.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets snag Pittsburgh cornerback Jason Pinnock

The New York Jets continue to look to round out their defense and establish depth in the secondary. This time in the form of 6 foot, 200 plus pound corner Jason Pinnock. Pinnock was a part of a talented high school football squad where he excelled at corner but also had 1,000 plus receiving yards and 15 TDs. Pinnock committed to Boston College originally before rescinding his commitment and choosing between Notre Dame and Pittsburgh. After picking Pitt, Pinnock never looked back.

Despite battling injuries early in his career, Pinnock showed flashes in his first three seasons, Pinnock still played in 21 games racking up 34 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 3 INTs, 14 deflections, a fumble recovery, and a touchdown. He played a bulk of his snaps as a rotational corner and on special teams for those years before taking over as a starter last season.

Pinnock put up good numbers last season with 20 tackles, 3 INTs, and 1.0 TFL. Pinnock then put on a show at his pro day with a sub 4.50 forty and impressive vertical numbers. The physical makeup is there to be a good corner, but Pinnock needs to develop his football IQ rather than rely on physical skill. If he can developmentally, he can be potential outside corner option.

Although some have wondered why the Jets waited to invest in the secondary, the reports have stated Robert Saleh wants to go after late round guys and develop them to his liking, a la K’Wuan Williams and Akello Witherspoon. If he can get half that production out of Pinnock or Carter Jr., that would be a success.