Jets hint at bright future with hard-fought finale against Buffalo

jets, zach wilson

The Jets faced the AFC East champions on Sunday with a surprising result. The final score was expected. Robert Salah’s team played hard for the majority of the game, hinting at a bright future.

The Good

Starting with the positive, the defense held Josh Allen and the Bills offense in check for extended periods of time. At one point in the 3rd quarter, Allen was 2 out of his last 10 attempts. Allen ended the day 24 of 45 for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. Stefon Diggs had a big day with 9 catches for 81 yards and a score.

The Jets’ defensive backfield was the youngest in the league at the start of the season. The cornerback unit had only started 9 games before this season. All of those young players were on the field for a lot of time for the entire season.

The Jets managed no sacks in the game, 5 quarterback hits, and only 4 tackles-for-loss. The Jets defense will want to upgrade the front 7, especially the linebacker unit. Most observers would say the defensive line is a strength that you can build the defense around.

The Bad

The negative side was the offense. Zach Wilson’s play inspired no confidence whatsoever. Wilson was sacked 8 times for 79 yards, and more than a few were his fault. Wilson drifted deep and outside the pocket consistently all game long. Keelan Cole was his leading receiver, and Jamison Crowder left with injury.

The rushing game was another low point for the Jets. Facing a top Bills defense, they only managed 48 yards on the ground. Michael Carter and Tevin Coleman had good plays here and there, but they were working uphill all day.

The Weird

Bills punter Matt Haack largely had an awful day. He had not been called on the prior 23 drives of the Bills offense. With 5:40 to go in the 2nd quarter, Haack shanked a punt for 28 yards. Offsetting fouls allowed the Bills to punt again, and Haack shanked another punt for 21 yards. He punted again 2 minutes later, with a 22-yard result. When Haack then punted a ball for a touchback, an audible cheer happened every successful punt thereafter. He did later manage to bobble the snap, got away from the rush, and pooch punt it for 8 yards.

Another interesting special teams tidbit from the Bills was that returners Micah Hyde and others would let the punt bounce before fielding the ball. They would act as if the returning team wanted to stay away, let it hop, grab it and run upfield. Hyde did this on 3 returns for 29 yards. The weather may have been a factor, and it was unique to see.

Outlook

The Jets have 2 top-10 draft picks and the 4th most salary-cap space. Joe Douglas and the front office are poised to have another impactful off-season. Many players got their chance to put a lot on film this season. The Jets can look forward to the next seven months of team building.

New York Jets beat New York Giants 12-7 in First Preseason Game | Recap and takeaways

The New York Giants and New York Jets faced off tonight in Week One of the 2021 NFL preseason. The New York Jets came out victorious. FINAL SCORE: 12-7.

Key stats and takeaways

New York Jets

  • QB Zach Wilson: 6/9, 63 yards
  • WR Denzel Mims: 3 receptions, 51 yards
  • DE Bryce Huff: 2 sacks, 2 TFL

2021 second-overall draft pick Zach Wilson had a solid debut in his first NFL action. While he did not light up the scoreboard, Wilson was smart with the football. He was accurate, had some impressive plays, and avoided any major mistakes. An all-around good performance by a rookie quarterback.

Many felt as though the Jets got a steal in the second round of last year’s draft when they selected wide receiver, Denzel Mims. Tonight, Mims looked like an impressive wide receiver, totaling 51 yards. Denzel Mims had a nice highlight, converting a 3rd and 18 while showing off some skills after the catch.

The New York Jets’ defense took advantage of the New York Giants’ thin offensive line. The Giants lack depth upfront and this allowed the Jets to total 5 sacks in the contest. Bryce Huff contributed two sacks on the night.

The Jets also seem to have some solid quarterback depth. Mike White threw for 127 yards on 13 completions. James Morgan gained 45 yards on 5 completions. No turnovers for any of the Jets’ quarterbacks.

New York Giants

  • QB Clayton Thorson: 5/16, 72 yards, 1 TD
  • WR David Sills V: 3 receptions, 49 yards
  • LB Carter Coughlin: 5 total tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL

The New York Giants’ starting offensive linemen did participate in tonight’s matchup. For the most part, the unit was impressive. Andrew Thomas looked good in both pass protection and run-blocking, including a dominant pass set in the first quarter. RG Will Hernandez also looked like an improved version of himself. Hernandez moved very nicely as a lead/pulling blocker and had a couple of key blocks in the running game. However, it was not a perfect outing for the starters as RT Matt Peart let up a sack on a third down.

Once the starting offensive linemen went out and the reserves went in, Giants fans were reminded just how poor this team’s depth on the offensive line truly is. The Giants let up 5 sacks, losing 34 yards and allowing a safety. The reserve linemen struggled mightily and also lost OG Kyle Murphy with an ankle injury.

Quarterback Clayton Thorson struggled throughout the game. He did throw a nice touchdown pass after evading pressure late in the game, though the majority of the game was relatively unimpressive.

Training camp standouts WR David Sills V and CB Rodarius Williams were on the field for the majority of the game. Sills lived up to the hype, beating cornerbacks with great releases off the line of scrimmage and making a few sound receptions for 49 yards (he also drew a DPI on a deep target). Williams had a rough night, letting up plenty of yards in receptions. But he did recover a fumble in the fourth quarter and nearly took it back to the end zone.

LB Carter Coughlin also stood out defensively for the Giants. The second-year player transitioned to off-ball linebacker this offseason after playing EDGE in his rookie year. Coughlin looked like he had been playing inside linebacker for years, putting together an impressive 5 tackle, 1 sack, 1 TFL performance. Carter was all over the place making plays.

New York Jets sign Alijah Vera-Tucker to rookie deal

alijah vera-tucker, jets

The New York Jets have finally signed Alijah Vera-Tucker to his rookie deal, making him the first of their top-three picks to do so. It’s a four-year deal, with a fifth-year option, fully guaranteed for $15.8 million. He also has a signing bonus of $8.9 million.

Vera-Tucker is expected to be the starting guard alongside Mekhi Becton on the left side of the line from the get-go. The former USC guard has high expectations coming in as a rookie and now the contract talk can finally be pushed into the rearview mirror.

The Jets, who traded up to draft Vera-Tucker with the 14th overall pick, made acquiring him a priority in April.

“We felt we had a unique opportunity to get a top-10 player in our minds as our board was stacked,” General Manager Joe Douglas said after making the trade to move up in the draft. “To go up and get a guy like Alijah Vera-Tucker, a player that has started at tackle, has started at guard and has been highly productive at both, that versatility and that production is something we really value.”

The Jets will now move their focus to signing their other top-two picks: Zach Wilson and Elijah Moore.

Did the New York Jets ‘finally’ solve their offensive line woes?

alijah vera-tucker, jets

Just one spot ahead of the New York Giants, the Jets ranked 31st in pass blocking efficiency last season, per PFF. In run blocking, they landed at 20th, thanks to a surprisingly successful performance by right tackle George Fant. Hopefully, with the insertion of UNC stand-out running back Michael Carter, the Jets will finally have a more committed running approach. With head coach Robert Saleh coming from the Kyle Shanahan system in San Francisco, it is possible they utilize a rotation of backs, exposing mismatches and running lanes.

However, the success of the Jets’ offense heavily relies on the protection of Zack Wilson in pass blocking. Considering how poorly they performed last year, the organization realizes it was a priority to upgrade the blocking personnel as much as possible. They brought in multiple new players, including USC versatile lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker, veteran Morgan Moses, and a few depth pieces to help mitigate fatigue and supplement injuries.

Offensive line coach John Benton attested to the scheme fits in the trenches and the new faces the team has brought in:

“I get the feeling that everyone’s pretty excited about it [the wide-zone scheme]. It seems to be a good buy-in at this point across the board. The guys fit the scheme real well. I think they’re excited to see where it can go.”

Projected starting offensive line for the Jets:

LT: Mekhi Becton

LG: Alijah Vera-Tucker

C: Connor McGovern

RG: Alex Lewis

RT: Morgan Moses

Depth:

OT: George Fant

OG: Dan Feeney

OG/OT: Conor McDermott

OL: Chuma Edoga

OG: Greg Van Roten

Simply looking at the expected starting group, it is with confidence we can say Wilson’s protection should be improved. Considering what Sam Darnold had to deal with last year, being sacked 35 times over just 12 games, it was about time the team allocated significant resources toward the bolstering of the unit.

Tucker has shades of Quenton Nelson embodied in his style of play, and Becton is a big left tackle with the ability to maul pass rushers at the point of attack. A veteran like Moses should provide substantial experience and an upgrade at right tackle, despite Fant having a solid 2020 season. However, having adequate depth shouldn’t be overlooked; Fant will return to his swing tackle role, which he played with the Seattle Seahawks before joining Gang Green.

Ultimately, with the injection of new talent, players who have performed well in the past, like Conner McGovern, should return to form with more consistency around him. If the line can hold up and develop chemistry as the season progresses, Wilson could find himself exceeding expectations in his rookie season, which would be a sign of optimism for the future.

2 players the New York Jets absolutely struck gold with in the 2021 NFL Draft

elijah moore, jets

There is no question the New York Jets had one of the best draft classes in the NFL this year on paper, and now it’s time for them to display their talents during training camp and hopefully come the regular season. Of course, the drafting of Zach Wilson will plaster the headlines, but they have two more players capable of achieving greatness at the next level.

Two players the New York Jets struck gold with in the 2021 NFL Draft:

WR: Elijah Moore

Elijah Moore is the ideal slot receiver, standing at 5’9″ and 178 pounds. As a shifty pass catcher, he posted 1,193 yards and eight touchdowns last year with Ole Miss, presenting a fantastic athlete in the open field and consistent hands.

Falling to the second round, the Jets couldn’t believe their luck, as Moore fits multiple offensive systems, whether it be a West Coast style or Air Raid. He has the versatility to align outside and in the interior, representing a dynamic athlete with sudden quickness and sky-high potential. While his route running is still a bit raw, the right coaching should do the trick regarding his development at the next level. As a tough and gritty player, more has the ability to create after the catch and offer home-run capabilities.

While the drafting of Moore created the narrative that Jamison Crowder’s time in green might be coming to an end, the two sides settled on an agreement, slashing Crowder‘s salary by about 50%.

So far this off-season, Elijah has been a massive stand-out, impressing Robert Saleh as he shifts alignments. He checks all the right boxes when it comes to progression and fundamentals coming out of college. He is already making stellar improvements with the team, and gaining chemistry with Wilson could curate one of the most exciting QB-WR duos the Jets have seen in years.

OL: Alijah Vera-Tucker

Aside from Moore, the Jets also landed USC stand-out offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker. A unit the  New York Jets desperately needed to upgrade, Tucker has the versatility to play offensive tackle and guard, contributing toward his value.

In fact, Hall of Fame OT Anthony Munoz has already become a big fan of Tucker, who not only impressed him on the field but also with his intellectual nature.

“The first thing I knew about Vera-Tucker was that he played guard, he opted out because of Covid, then when the Pac-12 decided to play, he played left tackle and he played extremely well. I knew he was versatile, to move from inside to outside and to be effective. … I knew he was a pretty good offensive lineman, but the thing I noticed right away was how genuine and down to earth he is. At the same time, he’s focused and eager to get to work. He wanted to learn. That’s the sign of a guy who’s going to be a great, great player. He wants to learn and he’s not satisfied with his performance at the college level.”

Munoz detailed one specific factor that should excite fans about Alijah, his transition from the inside at guard to starting at left tackle, where he played well. That type of transition is not simple or smooth, and he held his own with ease, elevating his draft stock considerably. Per PFF, AVT played 975 total snaps during his career at USC, allowing 5.0 sacks, 3 QB hits, and 8 quarterback hurries.

Consider this, Greg Van Rotan, who the Jets signed last year to help supplement weaknesses in the interior, allowed three sacks, two QB hits, and 19 hurries in 752 snaps last season. AVT should offer an instant upgrade at guard but also has the versatility to swing outside if injuries arise. His development will be exciting to watch, and adding potentially elite players on offense is exactly what the Jets needed to build around Wilson.

Report: Jets ink OT Morgan Moses to one-year deal, add more competition to OL

The New York Jets have been contemplating the idea of signing former Washington offensive tackle Morgan Moses to a one-year contract. Well, on Friday, they finalized the deal to bring Moses to New York, having started 97 games in his career for Washington.

The Jets, who have Mekhi Becton, George Fant, and rookie Alijah Vera-Tucker capable of playing offensive tackle, now have added competition from a solid veteran.

In 2020, Moses played the majority of his snaps at right tackle, featuring at left tackle in Weeks 11 and 12. He’s capable of playing on both sides but was far better in pass blocking when featuring on the right side of the OL. He allowed five total sacks, 14 QB hits, and 22 hurries.

Overall, Moses has been a consistent option for Washington for the past seven seasons. At 6’6″ and 335 pounds, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson now has himself a consistent OT on the right side who can provide support due to injury and will likely push Fant for the starting job.

Moses is coming off a five-year, $38.5 million deal, so the Jets signing him to a one-year contract should land in the $5-8 million range for the 2021 campaign. Fortunately, Moses hasn’t missed a game in six seasons, showcasing his reliability, and was mainly cut due to financial reasons and not performance-based factors.

Did the Jets stumble upon a stud in mid-round running back selection?

jets, michael carter

The New York Jets don’t have a clear-cut starting running back, but rookie Michael Carter out of UNC already has the advantage to be the opening day option for Zach Wilson in the backfield. Last year in 2020, Carter posted 1,245 yards and nine rushing touchdowns, including 267 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns.

As one of the most productive running backs in the country, nobody anticipated Carter falling to the 4th round. Jets management waited patiently for Carter to fall as they sat with their eyes glued to the screen as every team passed him by.

Having sweated the entire third round in hopes Carter would be available, general manager Joe Douglas stated they would have had a serious discussion taking him in the 3rd, but thankfully, he fell right into their laps and is already penciled in as a potential starter come Week 1.

Projected running back room for the Jets:

RB1: Michael Carter

RB2: Tevin Coleman

RB3: Ty Johnson

RB4: La’Mical Perine

RB5: Josh Adams

Carter has already gained the majority of first-team reps during OTA‘s, but the anticipation is that Robert Saleh will execute a rotation of running backs this upcoming year, especially with the signing of Tevin Coleman.

A committee-based approach would help Carter find his sea-legs at the NFL level, easing him into a more physical and athletic league. Heading into the draft, Carter’s strengths included solid agility, vision of the field, and protecting the football efficiently. The UNC product hasn’t fumbled in two years, and most of his negatives include diagnosing running lanes and a lack of top-end speed.

Breakaway speed for running backs is more of a luxury than a necessity, as finding running lanes and picking up first downs is more beneficial than blowing the top off of defenses at the second level. Plenty of backs with average speed produce above-average play. Some examples include Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, Aaron Jones, Chris Carson, etc.

Ultimately, if Carter can improve his vision and ability to hit holes with confidence, the Jets could have themselves a steal in the mid-rounds. He is a player to have a close eye on during training camp, gauging his snap count with the starters.

Jets: Alijah Vera-Tucker has ‘Quenton Nelson’ like versatility

alijah vera-tucker, jets

One of the priorities for the New York Jets this off-season was bolstering their offensive line, as they went out and utilized draft capital and free-agent money to upgrade the unit. They brought in Dan Feeney, who’s started 57 games in four seasons of play, and has experience at LG and C, and drafted Alijah Vera-Tucker out of USC to fill an interior position.

Vera-Tucker has experience playing at OT and OG, providing the Jets with versatility they didn’t have before on the OL. Having failed to make a significant splash in free agency, they walked away with one of the best drafts in the NFL, as the USC product was considered a top 10 player in the entire class. Considering they traded up to pick 14 to ensure they snagged the versatile offensive lineman, it gives you an idea of how much they valued his services.

Verta-Tucker’s former head coach, Clay Helton, had great reviews of the offensive lineman, generously comparing him to All-Pro OG Quenton Nelson in some ways:

“He played three years for us at an elite level and really didn’t give up a sack his junior year (at LG) in that entire year,” Helton said. “He has tremendous athleticism in all your run schemes. He’s a guy who can get out in space, can run outside zone, power on inside zone and be able to really get out in space on the second level and be able to connect with defenders and be able to lock on them and show those great feet that he has. You’re really getting a talented a player that I think can really fit into what the Jets want to do.”

When you have a player being compared to Quenton Nelson, your eyes must widen. With a combination of athleticism and technique, Tucker is ready to make an impact on day one. In addition, he has the flexibility to help supplement injuries, which could end up being an undervalued factor. Considering Mekhi Becton has been dealing with planters fasciitis and other issues, there is the potential that Alijah could end up starting some games on the outside, which he has significant experience doing.

However, the Jets envision him filling the left guard spot next to Becton, solidifying a duo for years to come that can protect their rookie quarterback, Zach Wilson.

At this point in time, the Jets have made significant changes across the board, but their offense has experienced a shift that not many other teams have experienced around the league. They have the personnel to take a dramatic step forward and 2021 — it all depends on the scheme/coaching moving forward.

The New York Jets still have time to bolster the secondary with one solid veteran

richard sherman, jets

The New York Jets seemingly had a fantastic draft and free agency class, but there is one unit they didn’t bolster sufficiently this off-season. Last year, one of the weaker points on defense for Gang Green was the secondary, and after the departure of Jamal Adams, the unit only got worse. The Jets ranked 28th in passing yards allowed per game, giving up 275.6 on average. They desperately need more support at cornerback after cutting Pierre Desir after just one season with the team.

However, there is one free agent on the market that could make perfect sense for the Jets, especially with the hiring of Robert Salah from the San Francisco 49ers.

Currently, on the roster, the Jets have a plethora of inexperienced options which don’t represent immediate starters or impact players.

-Bless Austin

-Bryce Hall

-Justin Hardee

-Isaiah Dunn

-Corey Ballentine

Only one of these players has played more than two seasons in the NFL and an entire 16 game campaign. Justin Hardee, who the Jets signed as a free agent from the New Orleans Saints, has never started a game in the NFL but has played in 56 over four seasons. He has two passes defended to his name, so expecting him to be a starting-level player would be optimistic.

The player on the market who could make the most sense for Gang Green is Richard Sherman, who is coming off a three-year, $27.15 million deal. At 33 years old, there’s no question that Sherman is getting up there in age, but as an intelligent corner who is one of the best defensive backs in the last decade, he could offer them plenty of value as a veteran in the locker room.

Sherman recently played for Salah and his defense, featuring in just five games last year, but did partake in 15 regular-season games and three playoff contests in 2019. During his 2019 season, he recorded a 90.5 overall coverage grade, allowing 373 yards and one touchdown the entire season. As a historically lock-down man coverage corner, Sherman clearly has a bit of gas left in his tank, but after missing the majority of the 2020 campaign, the Jets might be able to snag him up on a cheaper deal.

Considering the connection between Sherman and Salah, this would be an easy signing to make for the Jets, inserting an immediate starter into the secondary who can help the young players gain their sea legs in the NFL.

Signing Sherman to a one or two-year deal in the $7 million range would make sense, given the lesser contracts signed this off-season. The Jets currently have about $32 million available and cap space, giving them plenty of money to work with prior to the start of the 2021 season.

New York Jets: What Key Positions Are Of Concern After Home-Run Offseason?

new york jets, zach wilson

With the conclusion of 2021 NFL Draft on May 1st, the New York Jets have officially completed the first major step in rebuilding their ailing franchise. Allocating their second overall pick toward one of the brightest prospects entering the league, in quarterback Zach Wilson, the Jets made grand strides in the draft to put their offense back on track with young, cornerstone players that have the ability to put this team on a path to greatness.

That being said, the Jets by no means were able to patch up all the holes they needed to offensively, despite selecting four straight offensive players with their first four picks in the draft. Coming off a season where they had the worst offense in the league and averaged a total of 15.2 points per game, the Jets did just about everything they could in the draft to address most of their key concerns, but even then, still have several spots that could use more depth and improvement.

Naturally, both the quarterback and wide receiver positions do not consist of these concerns for the Jets anymore. After drafting Wilson second overall to patch up their biggest hole at the quarterback position, the Jets decided to bolster an already stacked wide receiver unit (that consists of Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Denzel Mims) by drafting the impressive Ole Miss wideout in Elijah Moore with their third pick in the draft.

But with these two positions stocked full with talent, the looming question that remains is which of the other offensive positions require the most improvement for the Jets to become the dominant, playoff team they once were over a decade ago? In short, there are only three other positions to focus on. However, prioritizing does matter and needs to be taken into account if the Jets aim at taking that next big step towards becoming a winning team again. So, on that note, here are the top three positions the Jets need to improve on before the season kicks off in September:

3. Tight End: Though this is the position that requires the least amount of attention, it’s still one that could use an injection of talent. With Chris Herndon leading the pack followed by Tyler Kroft, Ryan Griffin, and then Daniel Brown, the Jets have all the depth they need at the tight end position; but the overall skillset and promise from this group is still pretty low.

Brown hasn’t really seen a lot of playing time over his entire career and has been predominantly pigeonholed as a backup (ESPN). Griffin, who’s a seasoned eight-year veteran in the league, brings solid run blocking and has proven he can be a good red-zone threat for the Jets (ESPN). But with that comes half-decent route running and a slow pace that has made it difficult for him to become a reliable target. Kroft, who’s a new addition from the Buffalo Bills, does bring great hands but, then again, hasn’t been able to reproduce the same offensive success he once had in Cincinnati back in 2017 (ESPN). Lastly, there’s Herndon, who the Jets are planning to start.

Though he’s only 25 and is their most athletic tight end, Herndon hasn’t had a whole lot to show for in two full seasons and has struggled with consistency. And despite having a positive rookie campaign, Herndon hasn’t been the same since. Whether any of these players will rise to the occasion has still yet to be determined. But this mixed bag of talent and role players could use a little help. And with a variety of affordable options still available on the free-agent market, the Jets should consider acquiring another strong, tight end before the start of the season (Spotrac).

2. Running Back: Ever since the departure of Le’Veon Bell, the Jets have had no real solution when trying to fill the shoes he left behind. Despite signing Tevin Coleman over the offseason and drafting the exciting UNC prospect in Michael Carter, the Jets don’t have a great setup with their running back position. For starters, Coleman has struggled to stay healthy over his last two seasons, and there’s no guarantee that will change all that much this year. If he goes down, that leaves the Jets with Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine, and the rookie Carter.

Outside of the fact that the Jets offensive line is still a work in progress, none of these young running backs have proven they can be legitimate starters yet and bring a variety of differentiating skillsets to the table. Naturally, the Jets could rely on a committee backfield if Coleman does have any setbacks, which could prove to be pretty effective. But when you have a brand-new rookie quarterback, it just makes a huge difference to have an anchoring, consistent presence in the backfield that will allow them to establish that vital rapport with their new running back. And although Carter does have the tools to be that kind of a running back within the next two years, it’s unlikely the Jets will grant him that kind of a role this season due to his unfamiliarity with the league and their system.

When all is said and done, Carter was the long-term fix but certainly not the short-term solution at the running back position. And with the season only getting closer, the Jets should consider targeting Todd Gurley or bring in another dependable running back to strengthen this unit (Spotrac).

1. Offensive Line: Even after drafting Alijah Vera-Tucker 14th overall with their second pick, the Jets offensive line is still the biggest concern for this offense. Over the last two years, the Jets drafted two standout offensive linemen in Mekhi Becton and Vera-Tucker, really reinforcing and revitalizing the blindside of their unit. But from the center position all the way down the right side of the O-Line, the Jets still have Conor McGovern at center, Greg Van Roten at right guard and George Fant at right tackle, three O-Lineman who all started over 12 games last season but couldn’t garner much protection across the board.

Just to give you an idea, Sam Darnold was sacked a total of 35 times last year, finishing in 8th in that category despite only playing 12 games (ESPN). Furthermore, Joe Flacco was sacked an additional 7 times in the 5 games he played. And then, on top of that, outside of Darnold, Johnson, and running back Josh Adams, no one could muster a per-carry average of 4 yards or more.

In short, this offensive line is far from being where it needs to be, and the Jets have to find a way to provide much better protection. The depth is certainly there, but considering how feeble this offensive line was just a season ago that so happened to involve four of their current five starters, the Jets have some serious thinking to do and should look to go after another strong guard or tackle before the season commences (Spotrac).