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 

New York Jets land CB Brandin Echols out of Kentucky

brandin echols, jets

The New York Jets continue to spend the back half of their draft providing weapons for Robert Saleh. Brandin Echols, a 5 foot 11, 178-pound corner from Kentucky, is the latest addition. Echols played alongside day two selection Kelvin Joseph and had success in his two seasons down south. The receiver converted to corner and began his career on the JUCO route. After being named a JUCO All American, Echols transferred to Kentucky and quickly earned a starting role.

Echols debuted in his Junior season playing 13 games and racking up 54 tackles, 2.5 TFLs, 1.0 sack, 9 PDs and 2 FFs. Echols caught some eyes and expectations rose going into his senior season. Up against some of the top receivers in the country, Echols held his own, and finished his season with 54 tackles, 2.0 TFLs and an INT.

Echols progressed as a corner and given he is still relatively new to the position he still can grow. He has great fluidity and excellent speedrunning a blazing 4.30 forty. He is a superb athlete who can hang with some of the burners in the league. The expectation is he and Carter Jr. will likely compete for playing time in the slot and in various packages. Echols has shown more in coverage to this point but both players are exceptional athletes.

One thing to note with Echols is that he does have the size to play outside if need be. His game may not fit there as well as Jason Pinnock, but if he can utilize his speed on the outside he could earn playing time there as well, and relatively quickly. This is another high upside swing on a defensive back as the Jets look to round out their secondary.

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.

The New York Jets’ latest acquisitions know that championship feeling

Some of the New York Jets’ major 2021 acquisitions know how football’s biggest spotlight feels. Here’s why that’s so important.

The New York Jets are going back to the Super Bowl. 

Alas for fans of the star-crossed franchise the trip will have to come vicariously through the acquisition of new running back Tevin Coleman. The newly-minted 28-year-old has appeared in two Big Game box scores, starring in the 51st and 54th editions as a running back for the NFC champions from Atlanta and San Francisco respectively. Coleman, in fact, may own one of the most infamous touchdowns in Super Bowl history: his six-year scoring grab from Matt Ryan gave the Falcons a 28-3 lead over the New England Patriots in the former tilt at NRG Stadium. What happened next requires little elaboration.

While he was mostly sidelined in the latter Super Bowl trip…the 49ers’ doomed defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs…Coleman played a major role in the path to the championship, tallying triple digits in yardage and two scores in the Divisional triumph over Minnesota.

Less than 24 hours before Coleman conquered the Vikings, Corey Davis scored a three-yard touchdown through Derrick Henry trickery. It was a score that gave the Tennessee Titans a permanent two-possession lead over the Baltimore Ravens on the AFC side.

Both Coleman and Davis are now members of the Jets, a team whose playoff conversations in the last decade have centered only around the location of their watch parties. They’ve each been called upon to end a metropolitan playoff drought that might reach a point where it can see a PG-13 movie without a parent/guardian’s permission. Several transactional measures have been taken to ensure that doesn’t happen again: Coleman, Davis, Sheldon Rankins, Vinny Curry, and Keelan Cole are among them.

Sure there are signings beyond that group…previous practitioners Carl Lawson and Jarrad Davis should be intriguing in the 4-3 set that Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich are projected to implement…but the aforementioned assembly has a common link: experience in the NFL postseason.

When you’re a team as starved for postseason success as the Jets have been, any ray of light will be gratuitously accepted. The idea of bringing in a Super Bowl champion like Curry…a rare conqueror of the New England dynasty through a Philadelphia Eagles victory in Super Bowl LII…as a mentor to a young defense seems cliche, stolen from the script of the most basic sports film. Putting aside the point that maybe a return to the fundamentals might be the very thing that the Jets need right now, Curry provides the good vibes, the championship vibes the Jets need to get any semblance of momentum going within their organization.

In his first statements in a different shade of gridiron green, Curry established himself as a leader, becoming yet another on-field voice, and not a hot take artist, to profess his faith in both Saleh and his process. But Curry immediately endeared himself to his new group and got things rolling on a strong note by comparing the modern Jets to that championship squad that neutralized Tom Brady, if only for a short while.

“I just wanted to get on this ship. I’ve seen this ship before when coach Pederson took over in Philadelphia. I’ve seen this ship before, and I just wanted to be a part of it,” Curry said, per Newsday’s Al Iannazzone. “I think once we all get around each other and get a feel for each other, we have the potential to really be a force upfront. Potentially we could be something special.”

Rankins concurred with his fellow newcomer in the front seven. The former New Orleans Saint was part of modern-day playoff runs engineered by Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and offensive company, though he and his defenders had their own moments of glory. Rankins himself had a big sack that kicked the Chicago Bears out of field goal territory during January’s NFC Wild Card playoff matchup.

Unlike the over-optimistic razzle-dazzle often seen from offseason newcomers, Rankins brought another feeling the Jets needed: realism, while keeping sanguinity on the cusp of his comments.

“It’s not going to be easy to essentially turn around an organization that, let’s just be completely honest, hasn’t won a lot of games in a while,” Rankins said in Iannazzone’s report. “But when you got someone at the helm that demands excellence and you bring in guys that demand excellence that does nothing but has a trickle-down effect on the rest of the roster.”

Rankins would probably know. Going into his third season in 2018, three-time Pro Bowl blocker Terron Armstead uncannily expressed both dread and admiration in working across from Rankins, telling Around the NFL’s Herbie Teope that “I’ve had the advantage of watching him work every day. Sheldon has been a guy who works on his craft daily. He’s only improved since he’s got here.”

When one looks at the current Jets roster, there is raw potential that can be cultivated with the right brand of guidance. The Jets discovered the hard way that Adam Gase and his single game of playoff experience wasn’t the way to go about that. This time around, general manager Joe Douglas brought in winners, contributors on a big scale that won’t flinch if faced with a big game situation, ones the Jets hope to experience again fairly soon. This time, instead of working with players who will one day appear on the “Wait, He Played for the Jets???” lists, they found young contributors who have already experienced a lot of what the NFL has to offer.

Last season, the Jets were forced to enjoy sizable contributions from Joe Flacco and Frank Gore…staples of new century football that lingered well into the new decade. They provided mentorship but were never meant to be consistent stat providers, respectively forced into action through a Sam Darnold injury and the release of Le’Veon Bell. These playoff-savvy newcomers, however, have expectations thrust upon them, projected to provide clarity and stability to a team in desperate need of it.

The Jets have begun to chart a new path to the Super Bowl, one that’s different in several inspiring ways. This revelation that it will potentially be paved by young weapons who have walked it before should provide rare metropolitan optimism.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Why the New York Jets must draft offensively at No. 23

New York Jets

It’s a foregone conclusion that the New York Jets will draft a quarterback at No. 2. But what will they do with their latter Thursday choice?

If this is the most pressing of problems the New York Jets have for the remainder of 2021, they’ll be one of the most, if not the most, blessed teams in all of professional sports.

The Jets have a welcome dilemma when the first round of the NFL Draft is held in Cleveland on April 29 (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN/NFL Network). They’re one of a handful of teams with multiple first round picks, first choosing in the second slot before reaping the fruits of the Jamal Adams trade at 23rd overall. Though the second pick is more than likely spoken for…barring a jaw-dropping pre-draft surprise, the Jets will undoubtedly be taking a quarterback…there’s a major decision to be made in the latter station, a place where this draft’s predictability should be long gone.

When you’re a team like the Jets…coming off a two-win season, one even more brutal than this star-crossed franchise’s usual standards…

 Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Make the quarterback as comfortable as possible

When it comes to the second overall pick, the Jets have answered the question of what. Unless they plan on starting James Morgan, their 2020 fourth-round choice who has yet to wear an NFL game jersey, they’re drafting a non-Trevor Lawrence quarterback, be it Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, or an unknown third party.

Whoever it is, he’s going to need help, whether it’s through protection or weaponry (more on each of those in a minute). One of the things that doomed Sam Darnold’s New York career was the lack of stability on his end of the ball. By the time his third season began, no receivers from his rookie season (with the exception of tight end Chris Herndon) remained on the New York roster and his starting offensive line was completely different from even the year prior. The Jets need homegrown talent to help their new, young franchise man get used to the NFL game in a hurry.

The draft is also a more attractive option for the Jets to find offensive help because their last few big-ticket offensive arrivals from elsewhere (i.e. Le’Veon Bell) haven’t worked out. If they can build through the draft…and there’s a prime opportunity with 21 picks over the next two years…they can lay a foundation and rebuild a winning culture.

 Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Big plays are here again

So the Jets need offense, but that decision begets a decision: should they take a box score contributor or build the wall in front of Wilson/Fields/Other?

In the case of the former, it’s been a while since the Jets have had a truly explosive offense. It’s only been five seasons since Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker put up dueling 1,000-yard tallies during the bittersweet 2015 campaign, but that might as well be an eternity in football years. Making matters worse is that the Jets made little effort to keep Robby Anderson, the closest thing they had to a consistent playmaker. He posted career-best number in Carolina last season and now reunites with Darnold.

The Jets have assembled a decent core of veterans with Corey Davis and Keelan Cole joining the fray alongside incumbent slot man Jamison Crowder and sophomore Denzel Mims. But while drafting Mekhi Becton was a move no one could truly quarrel with, the Jets passed on name-brand receiving talent like Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and future All-Pro Justin Jefferson. This supposed sin can be rectified at No. 23, where names like Rashod Batman, Kadarius Toney, Terrace Marshall, and Tutu Atwell should all be available. Sure, the receiving class is deep enough that the Jets could find a receiver at No. 34…the second pick in Friday’s drawings…but the lack of offensive firepower has reached crisis levels in New York. Over the past five seasons, have the Jets have reached the four-touchdown/extra point plateau in 16 games, a mark besting only four teams (Chicago, Washington, Denver, and the Jets’ blue roommates in East Rutherford). That lack of production is ridiculously unsustainable in today’s NFL, and it shows: that group, including the Jets, has failed to win a playoff game over the last half-decade.

Many have theorized that the Jets could take a running back in the slot, but the Jets have resolved that issue, if only temporarily, through an affordable one-year deal with Tevin Coleman and a trio of young projects (La’mical Perine, Ty Johnson, Josh Adams). Besides, the recent first-round running back crop…especially when it gets to the later stages has shown it’s not worth it, at least not for their needs. It’d be great to bring in a, say, Rashaad Penny (drafted 27th by Seattle in 2018), but they can’t afford to use a first-round pick on a reliable spell option with a first-round pick. If they do address rushing, a power option like Rhamondre Stevenson could be a valuable latter-day steal.

New York Jets, Mekhi Becton
Credit: Joe McManus

Continue Construction

General manager Joe Douglas has had a small habit of having his football cake and eating it too, even if the dessert isn’t fully baked yet. When he took Becton with his first draft pick last season, he filled the big-play receiving potential slot with Mims, a Big 12 star from Matt Rhule’s Baylor Bears.

This offseason, Douglas has noticeably improved the team’s offensive chances through skilled talents that should at least keep fantasy football players’ eyes on Jets games (Davis, Coleman, Cole). He addressed the defense as well through 4-3 talents that will fit the preferred scheme of Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich. But the Jets remain understaffed on their blocking despite Douglas opening his checkbook for Connor McGovern, George Fant, and Greg Van Roten. Their quarterbacks were still on the run and little has been done to rectify that this offseason. Dan Feeney is high in personality but low on analytical rankings. Corey Levin hasn’t partaken in a regular season game since 2018.

Thus, it might help to continue building their fortress around the new thrower and improved rushing attack. Blocking draftees rarely send the draft parties into a frenzy…legendary blocker D’Brickashaw Ferguson was booed by a fanbase lusting after Matt Leinart…but no one’s complaining when the quarterback has time and the rushers have room to move.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Why everyone wins the Sam Darnold trade (for now)

It’s hard to assess a trade five months before a single down is played, but the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers came out looking good.

Despite Jerry Seinfeld’s best efforts, there’s probably is no such thing as a “mutual breakup”.

But the New York Jets and Sam Darnold might’ve come as close as one can, especially when it comes to severing the relationship between an NFL squad and its franchise quarterback.

Darnold confirmed as much in his first statements as a Panther on Monday, a week after he was dealt from New York for a trio of draft picks. While Darnold ruefully stated that he throught he was destined to be the Jets’ quarterback for a long time, he’s ready to embrace a new opportunity in Charlotte.

“I imagined I was going to be the franchise quarterback of the New York Jets for a long time…once you realize that the team that drafted you is moving on, it stings a little bit,” Darnold said, per Carolina reporter Darin Gantt. “Getting that news that you’re going to be traded, of a team saying, ‘Hey, we didn’t want you,” for whatever reason, is hard. But right now, I feel great about it.”

How did each side find something to celebrate? ESM investigates…

zach wilson, new york jets
. Mandatory Credit: George Frey/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Grounded Controversy

Through social media schadenfreude, the Jets are a team whose simplest mistakes are turned into memes within minutes. That concept has hit a fever pitch during their decade-long playoff drought (an NFL-worst), but there may well be light at the end of their tunnel of rebuilding. Rare optimism can be found at One Jets Drive after the hire of Robert Saleh, whose arrival has spawned positive reviews both domestically and abroad.

But the good vibes bring forth a perilous responsibility: it must be surrounded by as little controversy as possible. Holding a quarterback competition would be an unwelcome distraction during. Once the games do get underway, it’s widely expected that fans will be back at MetLife Stadium. The last thing the Jets needed was spectators, no matter the capacity limit, screeching for Darnold’s backup every time he threw an incomplete pass.

But, having traded Darnold, the Jets have a clear-cut plan. Their quarterback controversy will end no later than the evening of April 29, when they choose second in the 2021 NFL Draft in Cleveland. General manager Joe Douglas more or less confirmed as much when speaking after the deal was done.

“There was…a discussion about us taking a quarterback at pick number two and having Sam here for the season…ultimately, we felt that that wouldn’t be the best situation for Sam, the rookie quarterback, Coach Saleh and his staff, and the locker room,” Douglas said, per notes from the Jets. “We felt like this was the best decision for the entire organization moving forward, in hitting the reset button.”

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Darnold Gets Stability 

On paper, Carolina isn’t too far removed from the Jets in terms of where they are on the NFL barometer. They won only five games last season and are seeking stability under a first-time NFL head coach in Matt Rhule. But one look at the Carolina ledger shows that they provide a more stable offensive situation than Darnold ever had in New York.

Darnold’s burden is immediately lightened through a run game headlined by Christian McCaffrey rather than a disgruntled Le’Veon Bell and a tandem of projects. The biggest sign of Panther progress was perhaps shown through McCaffrey’s absence: despite enjoying only three games with the 2019 All-Pro in the backfield, Carolina remained competitive. All but three of their 11 losses came by one possession while Robby Anderson, Darnold’s favorite New York target in his first two seasons, tallied a career-best 1,096 yards despite relative turmoil at quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater was inconsistent in his first full-time starting gig since enduring a contact-free camp injury in 2015 and was relieved by XFL star P.J. Walker.

The coaching staff is also a welcome sight to any offensive player seeking his NFL fortune. Head coach Matt Rhule turned downtrodden college programs at Temple and Baylor into offensive blockbusters while offensive coordinator Joe Brady over saw the rise of Joe Burrow as the passing game coordinator during the LSU Tigers’ dominant national title run in 2019. Darnold took the time to appreciate the culture that Carolina is building during his opening statements.

“The culture that’s being set here is amazing,” Darnold said in Gantt’s report. “That’s probably the part that intrigues me the most about this.”

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

A Fine Addition to the New York Collection

While the immediate yield from the Darnold trade isn’t flashy…the Jets earned the 226th overall pick in the coming Cleveland selections…it’s pretty impressive on Douglas’ end that he was able to net a second-round pick (coming in 2022) for an injury-prone quarterback with a 13-25 ledger as a starter, even if the circumstances weren’t the greatest.

“With the premium picks, your first, second, third-round picks, those are the picture you’re looking to become starters on your team,” Douglas remarked through the Jets. “So, those ultimately end up being the picks that you spend the most time talking about.”

As a young Queens webslinger was told, however, with great power comes great responsibility. Quantity doesn’t automatically equal quality, and that axiom rings especially true in the NFL Draft. The Jets learned that lesson the hard way during the 2014 proceedings through John Idzik’s doomed dozen and it’s a nightmare that Douglas doesn’t take lightly.

“We have a lot of opportunity in front of us, 21 picks in the next two drafts, including 10 in the first three rounds,” Douglas said in Jets notes. “But with that opportunity, we know we have to make the most of it and hit on these picks.”

New York Jets, Joe Douglas
(Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Joe’s Jets

Douglas presents himself as a guy who’s not interested in looking for excuses. But he’d have a good few in the holster.

He joined the Jets under unusual circumstances, placed in charge weeks before training camp opened after Mike Maccagnan’s post-draft firing. His first years with the organization have been handicapped by decisions he had no jurisdiction over (namely the Adam Gase hire).

Now, Douglas’ signings are getting closer to becoming the majority after several Maccagnan/Gase staples were shipped elsewhere. He has a handpicked head coach in Saleh and he’s about to have a handpicked franchise quarterback.

It’s official: Douglas is the captain now. For better or worse, this was a step the Jets needed to move toward. There are no more excuses, there are no more “wait untils”. Douglas’ era can officially begin and he can thus be judged appropriately.

“I think you feel pressure every day you walk into the building,” Douglas said in Jets notes. “You want to do this job to the best of your ability. You want to take the information that you have at hand and make the best possible decisions that you can make.”

Jets fans and the football-loving public at large are about to find out if they’re truly the right moves to end the perpetual rebuild…a rebuild Douglas now officially owns.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: A seven-round, post-Sam Darnold mock draft

With Sam Darnold having moved on, ESM envisions how the New York Jets’ replenished draft haul will look come April/May.

Sam Darnold is gone, resolving the question of his New York Jets fate. Now, another rises in his place: now what?

Following Darnold’s dealing to Carolina earlier this week, the Jets now hold ten picks in the 2021 NFL Draft, which begins on April 29. The last came from the Panthers along with two further choices in next year’s selections.

With Darnold’s New York term ended, how should the Jets spend this surplus? In the immediate aftermath, it’s a terrific note on Douglas’ resume that he has earned the Jets double-figure offerings in a single draft. But draft day quantity, of course, is never a guarantee of quality. The Jets learned that lesson the hard way during the 2014 proceedings. Then-general manager John Idzik held a dozen picks in the final draft in New York, but none of them remain on the Jets’ current roster and, in fact, only one (fourth-rounder Dakota Dozier, now a starting blocker in Minnesota) partook in NFL action last season.

How can the Jets make the most of their excess choices, especially in the wake of the Darnold news? ESM investigates through a full New York mock…

1st Round (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU

One of the biggest wins of the Darnold trade was that the Jets now have an official deadline for their current quarterback controversy: the evening of April 29, after they make their second pick. Deshaun Watson is out for obvious reasons and they certainly won’t entrust Week 1 starting duties to Mike White or James Morgan. Thus, it’s a near-certainty that they’ll choose a non-Trevor Lawrence thrower with the second overall choice.

With a New York triumvirate (Joe Douglas, Robert Saleh, Mike LaFleur) in tow for his pro day in Provo, it’s beginning to look like a Wilson-based future for the Jets. ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter took it a step further, flat out texting Wilson “Welcome to New York” after the Jets-Panthers deal was completed. With this move, Douglas has officially solidified the Jets as his “own”, as the modern Jets will work with a head coach and quarterback exclusively chosen by the current GM.

1st Round (23rd overall): C/G Landon Dickerson, Alabama

So the Jets have traded Darnold, the latest of several offseason moves that have made them a better team on paper (if only because there’s nowhere to go but up after a 2-14 campaign). But their offensive line negligence has only gained a brighter spotlight. Dan Feeny and Corey Levin are acceptable options for depth, but they’re not guys that are going to push the Jets’ offensive needle in the right direction.

Dickerson, on the other hand, can be a difference-maker. Going 23rd would almost be an injustice to the 6’6, 325 lb. national champion, who was injured on a scoring play during the SEC title game. It was the last of several injuries he endured in Tuscaloosa, which has served as a red flag in several teams’ draft preparation. But Dickerson’s loss in position could be the Jets’ gain, as he brings an impressive resume that goes beyond his championship ring. He’s the current holder of both the Rimington and Jacobs Blocking trophies (sharing the latter with teammate Alex Leatherwood) and was a unanimous All-American last year.

2nd Round (34th overall): LB Zaven Collins, Tulsa

The hullabaloo around a new quarterback…as well as some shrewd offseason maneuvering from Douglas and Co…has somewhat masked the fact that the Jets still have some defensive renovations to make. One of the smarter moves of Douglas’ winter was bringing in Carl Lawson and Jarrad Davis, both of whom have extensive experience with the 4-3 defense that Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich are set to install in New York.

Don’t be surprised if the Jets take a similar approach on draft weekend. Collins is among the top, if not at the top, of the 4-3 linebackers in the coming class. He likewise brings in a sizable trophy case to his NFL destination, one that includes the AAC Defensive Player of the Year Award (guiding the Golden Hurricane to an undefeated regular season in conference play) and the Chuck Bednarik Award (whose previous three winners include Minkah Fitzpatrick, Josh Allen, and Chase Young). Critics feel like Collins would have to improve his physicality to move into the first round proper, but he’s the type of day two pic that can contribute immediately.

3rd Round (66th overall): CB Paulson Adebo, Stanford

As the post-Jamal Adams carries on, the Jets are still relatively thin in their secondary. Their safeties are on relatively solid ground…having franchise-tagged Marcus Maye and working on Ashtyn Davis as a project. But they’re still understaffed in the cornerback spots, where the current top options are veteran newcomer Justin Hardee (who’s primarily used on special teams) and raw, young talents like Bless Austin and Bryce Hall.

Thus, it’s worth exploring some cornerback options on day two, some more proven potential that can contribute immediately. Perhaps unfairly, Adebo has seen his stock fall after opting out of the 2020 season. He was previously projected to be among the first safeties to go in Mel Kiper’s 2020 draft board. He’s thus another project, but he has at least has some proven potential to work with (primarily as a player with the “ballhawk” classification) and could insert himself into a starting lineup fairly quickly.

3rd Round (86th overall): T Spencer Brown, Northern Iowa

The Jets have a perfect opportunity to make up for their relative inactivity in terms of upgrading their protection through the extra picks gained on the first two days. Their thrower’s blindside is protected through the first-round arrival of Mekhi Becton last season, but their questions on the right side. George Fant appears to be back in the starting lineup with Chuma Edoga behind him.

Brown, an FCS standout, could provide the proper heat to a veteran like Fant on the right side. His 2020 showcase has been thrown into disarray with uncertainty in what was Division I-AA football, but Brown managed to impress at both the Senior Bowl and UNI’s pro day. He has earned particularly strong reviews for his pass blocking and, in lieu of partaking in UNI’s ongoing shortened year, has been training with former All-Pro blocker (and Saleh’s fellow San Francisco alum) Joe Staley.

4th Round (107th overall): RB Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma

The Jets have an interesting running back situation. Signing Tevin Coleman can not only give the offense a proven weapon both on the ground and through the air, but also take the pressure off the new quarterback. Behind Coleman is a trio of projects who have raw potential: La’mical Perine, Ty Johnson, and Josh Adams. It wouldn’t be surprising for the Jets to add an upstart rookie to create a training camp competition. The addition of Coleman allows the Jets to address other areas over the first few rounds.

A failed drug test suspension kept Stevenson, a former JUCO star at Cerritos College, out of the Sooners’ College Football Playoff trek at the end of the 2019-20 season, as well as the first five games of last year’s campaign. He nonetheless led the Sooners with 665 rushing yards (6.6 average carry), capped off by a dominant 186-yard showing in OU’s dominant Cotton Bowl victory over Florida. Stevenson’s build (230-240 lbs.) could also allow the Jets to reestablish a fullback role, especially with Saleh and LaFleur knowing the benefits of such a position, having worked with Kyle Juszczyk in San Francisco. The Jets toyed with tight end and 2019 draftee Trevon Wesco in the spot over the last two seasons, but more or less abandoned the project last year.

5th Round (146th overall): WR Shi Smith, South Carolina

At receiver, the Jets did a solid job of upgrading their receiving weaponry for the incoming quarterback. In addition to Coleman (111 receptions from 2016-19 with Atlanta and San Francisco), they added promising young veterans Corey Davis and Keelan Cole to a group that already includes Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder. But the third day of the draft would be a good time to find some depth.

Smith could be a potential project, especially one in the slot with Crowder due to hit free agency next year. His development in Columbia was slightly hampered by the Gamecocks’ unstable quarterback situation, but he still garnered some professional looks for his speed and athleticism (which could allow the Jets to establish the screen). Smith’s 57 receptions earned last season were good for fifth in the SEC’s shortened 2020 season. He can also add a little heat to the Jets’ return situation, currently headed by Corey Ballentine and Braxton Berrios, as he was second in the conference with a 21.9 kick return average during the 2019 campaign (albeit on a 12-return sample size).

5th Round (154th overall): S Ar’Darius Washington, TCU

As Brian Poole remains unsigned, the Jets could use a nickel/dime upgrade while potentially working on a safety project. While Washington’s size (5’8, 178 lbs.) is a concern, his ball skills make him an intriguing prospect to work with in the secondary. The underclassman has constantly defied odds, not only working his way through a tough size situation but also making an immediate Fort Worth impression by winning the Big 12’s Defensive Freshman of the Year Award. Working with Hardee could also allow him to make an impact on special teams.

6th Round (186th overall): TE Matt Bushman, BYU

At tight end, Chris Herndon is the one player left over from the Jets’ new uniform showcase in the early stages of 2019. While they did add Tyler Kroft…who will be a decent goal line option…Herndon still appears to be the top man in the position. Adding Bushman would not only put some heat on Herndon but also give Wilson a friendly face to work with in his NFL debut. Though Bushman missed all of the Cougars flirtation with a New Year’s Six bowl with an injury, he was their top receiver in 2019, notably uniting for 91 yards on six receptions in their final collaboration in the Hawaii Bowl.

6th Round (227th overall): K Jose Borreagales, Miami (FL)

The current pick gained from the Panthers in the Darnold trade can allow the Jets to address one of their most problematic areas: kicking. With an offense still struggling to consistently visit the end zone, having a reliable kicker will be vital if they want to remain competitive. Since the Pro Bowler Jason Myers left for Seattle two offseasons ago, the Jets have gone through six different kickers. The most recent pair (Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin) remain on the roster, with a competition potentially set to ensue. Last year’s draft showed that they wouldn’t hesitate to use a pick to bolster their special teams, using their last on Texas A&M punter Braden Mann.

New York needs a reliable name as their leg, and the primary boot in this draft is Borreagales. A native of Venezuela, Borreagales established himself as a South Beach kicking legend, first starring at Florida International before spending a fifth season with The U. Mirroring Mann’s Ray Guy Award, Borreagales would bring a Lou Groza trophy with him as the current holder. He was successful on all 35 of his extra point attempts last season and was 18-of-20 on field goals. One conversion was a 57-yard boot in a September win over Louisville, a primetime showdown that saw him score 17 points in a 47-34 win.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Three ways a 17-game schedule affects the New York Jets

With the NFL set to introduce a 17-game schedule next season, ESM ponders how the New York Jets will be affected in the immediate aftermath.

The NFL season got a little longer this week, as league owners approved the addition of a 17th game to the yearly schedule. This new game will a fifth interconference battle based on divisional finish the year before. For example, the New York Jets and their AFC East brethren will battle their NFC counterparts in the 2021 debut, with the Jets taking on their fellow fourth-place finishers from Philadelphia.

What sort of unique challenges does the new schedule present? ESM investigates…

Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It’s An Extra Game of Experience

Even with some valuable veteran additions in tow, the Jets are still a young team at heart. Only eight players on the current roster have more than five years of NFL experience (not counting ongoing free agents like Bradley McDougald and Neville Hewitt) and all signs point to them sending out a rookie quarterback for their Week 1 contest in September.

Perhaps nothing could’ve stopped the carnage that last season wrought, but the Jets were one of the teams more drastically affected by the lack of a 2020 preseason. There were simply too many new faces that could’ve benefitted from consequence-free opportunities. With Robert Saleh in tow, the Jets are preparing to enter a new era. While there are many newcomers in on one-year deals, there’s hope for longevity through the new contracts bestowed to guys like Corey Davis and Carl Lawson (three years each).

Though the Jets have gotten better through their offseason additions, asking them to compete for a 2021 playoff spot is still a tough ask. Buffalo has apparently inherited the AFC East throne from New England, who spent big this offseason to reclaim. Established wild card contenders pepper the outlook elsewhere. Thus, the 2020 season will be about building continuity and chemistry. If they insert themselves into the playoff conversation, that’s an added bonus. But an extra game gives them a chance to develop the big pair of c’s for their future.

New York Jets, Robert Saleh
Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It’s Perfect For a New Coach

Robert Saleh has a good chance to make a first impression with a shortened preseason on its way.  But now he, as well as the other six new head coaches in the league, has an extra regular season game to further establish his vision and start to make things right.

In his opening statements, Saleh expressed his desire to establish a new culture in New York but stressed that fans would have to be patient.

“There’s an investment that’s going to be made to one another, coaches to players, players to coaches, organization to everybody, and there’s an investment that’s going to be reciprocated,” Saleh said, per notes from the Jets. “(It’s an) understanding that the all gas, no brake mentality that we’re going to have with how we wake up in the morning, how we rehab, how we prepare for meetings, how we take the practice field, how we’re deliberate in everything we do will lead to the results that you’ll see on Sunday. It will take time, but everything we do is going to be designed to win championships in the future.”

The caveat of patience is still extremely necessary, but an extra game of regular season work is a godsend to Saleh and Co.

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The Jets-Giants Rivalry Could Finally Become a Thing

The Jets own countless acres of real estate in the heads of New York Giants fans, and vice versa. Yet, it’s hard to truly classify the battle of Bergen County as a true rivalry as the teams’ quadrennial meeting doesn’t stem enough animosity. One can only get so amped from a preseason tilt as well.

Obviously, the Jets won’t face an NFC East opponent every year under the new format. But the gap between metropolitan meetings could steadily decares if things play out. Heck, if things go the way each side is hoping they will, it could become a battle of local division champions, as the 17th meeting will matchup teams who finished in the same spots. Even if things don’t work out, it can become a battle of rebuilders, and give their long-suffering fans something to battle and brag about.

The Giants-Jets clash is never going to become the Subway Series. But if the 17th game allows them to meet more often than once every four years, it could at least gain a little traction and become a must-see event on the national level.

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.

The ghosts of the Adam Gase era still haunt the New York Jets

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The Adam Gase era lasted two seasons, but the burden left behind creates an uphill battle for the New York Jets.

At what point does a new football regime officially “own” its respective organization’s ledger? The unspoken accords of college football appear to dictate that if his team isn’t performing by his third season at the helm, he’s to seek employment elsewhere. The leash is even shorter in the NFL with patience wearing especially thin in the New York/New Jersey area.

Both the Jets and Giants bid two of their respective head coaches farewell after two seasons of futility. The blue representative, Pat Shurmur, quickly found work as the offensive coordinator in Denver, while Adam Gase’s redemption story has yet to be greenlit.

The January firing of Gase has allowed the tenure of general manager Joe Douglas to officially begin. Douglas wasn’t the one who hired Gase…that general manager, Mike Maccagnan, was let go before Gase ever wore a New York headset. Thus, the former Philadelphia Eagles executive has a bit of a restart button through the hiring of Robert Saleh, a hire that received positive reviews both domestically and abroad. The pair have admitted that it will take some time, but that they are committed to getting the Jets back in contention.

But, through little fault of their own…particularly Saleh and his clean green slate…the new unit remains sidelined by the ghosts of the Gase era.

As star-crossed as the Jets’ fortunes have been, few coaches reached the levels of futility seen during the Gase era. Among those that lasted two full seasons on the Jets’ sidelines, only Rich Kotite’s cursed squads posted a lower win percentage (9-23 vs 4-28). Gase’s group even managed to best Kotite’s dubiousness in some aspects. For example, the 2020 Jets lost their first 13 games…even Kotite’s notorious 1996 team (1-15) managed to secure a win by Halloween.

The Jets have managed to keep busy with the NFL’s legal tampering period well underway. Over the past 48 hours, the Jets have upgraded their defense, their offensive weaponry, and their special teams. Each of their acquisitions makes the Jets a better team. Sure, part of the reason for that is because there’s little room to truly fall further, but a plethora of cap space has created shrewd deals that have yielded a rising talent in the front-seven (Carl Lawson), an affordable audition for a former first-round linebacker with 4-3 experience (Jarrad Davis), a reliable weapon for the quarterback, be it Sam Darnold or otherwise (Corey Davis), and a defender to help pin opponents deep on punt coverage (Justin Hardee).

Yet, it’s not like Jets fans soothed themselves in 2020 with dreams of adding Jarrad Davis. With a plethora of cap space, the time seemed right to make a truly big splash, one that could welcome fans back to MetLife Stadium with open, hopeful arms. Even if it wasn’t the type of addition that tore up box scores, the Jets could’ve used the money to bolster their blocking, a long-gestating and neglected endeavor that got off to a strong start through the drafting of Mekhi Becton. Even Patrick Mahomes was neutralized when key pieces of his protection were lost prior to the Super Bowl.

But that’s when the reminders of the Gase era began to rise and create further losses for the Jets.

Jets fans have no doubt kept track of Joe Thuney’s career over the last two years. The team expressed interest in him when he was up for free agency last season, but the interior blocker was franchise tagged by his New England employers before anyone else could make a move. Thurst onto the open market this time around, Thuney was indeed lured away from the Patriots…through a five-year, $80 million contract from Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs. Former Green Bay Packer Corey Linsley switching shades of green could’ve helped the Jets resolve a center situation that has been in limbo since Nick Mangold’s retirement. The defending All-Pro, however, will instead hit the west coast and join the Los Angeles Chargers.

These early developments…the operative term being early…should be viewed with a bit of an asterisk. There’s plenty of time for the Jets to recover and earn themselves a stronger grade, all while acknowledging that an instant fix before the offseason lets out probably isn’t going to happen. But the Gase era has left this team in a precarious position.

Name-brand recognition through a city alone isn’t a selling point in this day and age. The NBA’s New York Knicks have spent the past decade learning this lesson the hard way. The Jets were a bit of a tough sell as it was; they’re the current owners of the longest postseason drought in the NFL and social media has amplified every little green mistake into viral disasters.

But it isn’t just the on-field woes from the Gase era that have the Jets reeling. What elite free agent is going to look at the way Gase handled things and declare “I want in on that”?

Every week, Gase had to be armed with two gameplans: one for the opponent and one for whichever superstar was feeling disgruntled. The usual suspects were Le’Veon Bell and Jamal Adams, a talented pair who have long abandoned their Jets equipment. Before the 2020 season began, Bell had to publicly insist that he and Gase “like(d) each other“. Less than a month later, Bell was bound for Kansas City. The lasting effects of the Gase era can well be witnessed through comments by Marcus Maye’s agent. Apparently disgruntled with the way the Adams situation was handled, Burkhart went on a mini-rant that has gotten only a quick passing reference since Maye was franchise tagged earlier this month. The comments showed just showed how a sense of mistrust has risen throughout the organization since Gase arrived in 2019.

The fact of the matter is that Douglas can bestow a big contract and evaluate talent with better resources than anyone in football. But the damage left behind in the wake of the Gase era has put the Jets in an even tougher situation. That might not fully be on Gase, but, as the most public face behind this most recent stretch of struggling, he’ll ultimately be the face behind it…even if he’s not the one who winds up suffering from it.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags