New York Jets’ lack of on-field progress disfigures offseason work

New York Jets, Joe Douglas

Trading off the faces of the franchise is working to the New York Jets’ benefit, but the on-field yields have made them impossible to enjoy.

The New York Jets’ most fruitful endeavors of the 2021 season came in Week 6. By perhaps no coincidence, that week of action marked the Jets’ annual bye week.

The 2021-22 NFL playoff bracket was never going to be the primary criteria for judging the Jets’ season. This year’s AFC environment was already packed to the brim with established division favorites: the Jets’ own East division is set to be dominated by a Western New York overlord for the foreseeable future. Tennessee has taken over the South as expected while pleasant surprises have emerged in Cincinnati and Las Vegas.

The wild card picture features expected contenders like the Ravens, Chargers, Browns, and Steelers. In Kansas City, the two-time defending conference champion Chiefs are shockingly fighting for their lives. Asking a two-win team to launch themselves into that conversation, no matter how much they changed during the offseason, was always a very tall ask, one not even worth asking. Appearing in the “in the hunt” column on the postseason charts NFL broadcasters break out around the holidays was probably going to be the best-case scenario for the team.

Nonetheless, there was much to gain in year one of the shared Robert Saleh/Zach Wilson era, the official start of Joe Douglas’ general manager tenture after he installed his own head coach and quarterback. Progress was the name of the game and it would’ve been hard to take steps backward from the final years of the Adam Gase era. The Jets were left in such dire straits from Gase’s two-year watch that there was no way for them to fully fill all the boxes on their offseason checklist, but Douglas did a solid job nonetheless.

But the biggest moves of Douglas’ offseason were done not in the name of the present, but the future. Douglas officially left his mark on the organization through the trade of previous franchise quarterback Sam Darnold, paving the way for Wilson’s arrival. In return for a quarterback with a career 78.6 passer rating and an unforunate injury history, Douglas was able to secure a second and fourth-round pick from the Carolina Panthers. Darnold’s departure came nearly nine months after fellow franchise face Jamal Adams was shipped off to Seattle for each of the Seahawks’ first-round picks over the next two drafts.

Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

For the time being, Douglas’ deals look like the finest New York-based robbery since Clive Owen and Co.’s heist in Spike Lee’s Inside Man. Adams may have earned his desired big contract but has failed to stop Seattle’s Russell Wilson-free descent. His first playoff experience was a Wild Card disappointment that failed to stop an injured Los Angeles Rams passing tandem of Jared Goff and John Wolford. Seattle’s ugly Monday night loss to New Orleans currently positions the Jets in the eighth slot of the current 2022 draft board, one of the two appearances within the first octology.

Meanwhile, Darnold became instant comedic fuel for those seeking a cheap laugh at the Jets’ expense: as his Panthers started 3-0 (wins coming against the Jets, Saints, and Texans), many were ready to put him in Canton for his services of making Gang Green look even more inept. Carolina has since dropped four in a row, the latest loss being a listless 25-3 defeat at the hands of the lowly Giants. Darnold was benched for de facto XFL MVP P.J. Walker in defeat and the Panthers reportedly remain interested in the services of the burdened Deshaun Watson, a sweepstakes Douglas smartly reclused himself from.

Per Tankathon, the Jets are slated to visit the podium four times over the first 45 selections if the current pace continues. That alone should make the team smile and emerge from the 2021 campaign with good feelings.

Alas, what’s happening on the field makes it absolutely impossible to appreciate the yields off of it.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Jets (1-5) are somehow finding rockier bottoms than those reached under Gase, much like how Gase “accomplished” dubious distinctions Rick Kotite’s doomed groups managed to avoid. New York’s new futility was best personified through their most recent defeat, a 54-13 shellacking at the hands of the New England Patriots.

Few remnants of the New England dynasty linger since Tom Brady flew south, but their monopoly over the Jets is a troubling leftover: of the Patriots’ ten wins earned in the post-Brady era, four have come against the hapless Jets. East Rutherford’ portion of the 2021 meetings was equally ugly, as the Jets failed to visit the end zone in a 25-6 defeat. A week later, they were on the wrong end of a shutout in Denver, the tenth scoreboard blank in the NFL since 2019. Of those no-shows, the Jets have been responsible for three of them.

In further Sunday struggles, the 54 points were the most scored by a Jets opponent since the team let up 56 to those same Patriots in 1979. It was also the eighth time in franchise history that the Jets let up at least 550 yards in a game since opening weekend of the 1998 season. Unlike that overtime thriller in San Francisco, no divisional title/AFC title game appearance awaits at the end.

What New England did on Sunday is what, frankly, the Jets should be doing. Nobody is expecting them to light up the scoreboard on a weekly basis (nor should they) but the Jets’ lack of on-field progress is disturbing. Solace can be gained from the fact that the team is well-set for the future…the elevator ride up the draft board is the sweetest form of gridiron schadenfreude…but it’s hard to get excited when the on-field product suggests that there’s still so much to work on.

Douglas’ drafts have also done little to inspire faith in the draft day rewards. Sure, his primary picks (Mekhi Becton, Alijah Vera-Tucker) have provided a solid foundation for the wall in front of Wilson. But addressing the entire body of work is a new exercise in football frustration and futility.

Take his original class in 2020, for example. Becton has been strong but has spent most of this season on injured reserve (along with sixth-round punter Braden Mann). Nothing more needs to be written about second-round weapon Denzel Mims’ lack of snaps (his 20 on Sunday were a season-best). Jabari Zuniga (3rd) and James Morgan are already gone while Morgan’s fellow fourth-rounders La’Mical Perine and Cameron Clark have united for a single snap this season. While there’s hope for secondary defenders Ashtyn Davis and Bryce Hall, they haven’t made any of the missed opportunities worth forgetting: for example, Jeremy Chinn, Logan Wilson, and Antonio Gibson went within the immediate ten post-Mims picks. The already pointless selection of Morgan is even more bizarre considering Gabriel Davis went to Buffalo three choices later.

It’s great that the Jets have accumulated such valuable draft capital…but does that mean much when the on-field product still wallows in gridiron shame?

Granted, there’s still time for the Jets to come out clean on the other side of this season: arguing about the fates of Saleh and Wilson (who is missing at least the next two weeks with an injury) is pointless: even the Jets won’t be so impatient to give up on them after one year. Another macabre gift has been bestowed in the sense that the Jets’ season is so far gone and already removed from the postseason that they have 11 consequence-free opportunities to stage free research and development for the future, starting with Sunday’s visit from the AFC North leaders from Cincinnati (1 p.m. ET, CBS).

Douglas arrived in one of the most thankless jobs in professional sports. To his credit, he’s making the best of it through not only his draft board maneuvering but late summer cuts that have created a professional future for themselves (i.e. Quincy Williams, Ty Johnson). Trading off the franchise faces and his action on the offensive line was refreshing after years of Mike Maccagnan-supervised negligence. To say Douglas has the best intentions would perhaps be the understatement of this young season.

But if good intentions served as championship criteria, everyone would be undefeated.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

Ex-NY Jets QB Geno Smith ready for chance at prime time redemption

Geno Smith, New York Jets

Smith, once the future of the New York Jets, has a chance to reclaim the narrative on his NFL career in a new opportunity in Seattle.

No matter what happens during the remainder of his NFL career, Geno Smith will go down as the answer to a trivia question asked by those who cycle through MetLife Stadium’s gates, no matter whether they wear green or blue.

For New York Jets fans, Smith is the last green thrower to toss a perfect game on the gridiron (a 158.3 passer rating) and the only one to do so in the 2010s. In the realms of New York Giants history, he’s the man who ended Eli Manning’s streak of 210 consecutive starts under center.

Smith is finally free from the incessant spotlight of quarterbacking in the metropolitan area, one that has slightly hardened him as he tries to carve out an extended NFL path. While Smith had settled into a backup role in Seattle, a rare injury to Russell Wilson (one expected to keep him out for at least the next three weeks after he was placed on injured reserve) has thrust him back into the gridiron mainstream. His path starts on Sunday night as the Seahawks (2-3) start the process of salvaging their season in prime time against the Pittsburgh Steelers (8:20 p.m. ET, NBC).

The visit to Pittsburgh will be Smith’s first regular season start since his infamously historic single outing as the Giants’ primary man in December 2017. The trust bestowed in Smith to help the Seahawks in their most desperate hour in a long, long time is the highest vote of confidence since former blue head coach Ben McAdoo controversially inserted Smith into the woebegone Giants’ starting lineup once they were among the earliest eliminated from the 2017-18 playoffs. McAdoo did in spite of only Manning’s streak but the prescience of then-rookie Davis Webb, who had been the Giants’ highest selection at quarterback since the instantly-traded Phillip Rivers went fourth overall on a fateful spring afternoon in 2004.

At the time, a respectable performance (21-of-34, 211 yards, a touchdown, and two lost fumbles in a 24-17 to the Oakland Raiders) wasn’t enough to withstand the fury of Giants fans eager to see their Super Bowl hero go out on any semblance of a “right” note. When McAdoo was ousted, one of the Giants’ first moves was to re-establish Manning as the top passer.

McAdoo had a parting gift for Smith upon his firing after the Oakland debacle.

“When Coach Mac was let go and left the building, I talked to him before he left, and he had told me he felt like I deserved to play the rest of the season,” Smith told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News after his metropolitan departure in 2018. “He believed in me. A lot of people did. Guys wanted me to do well. But there are some things that are out of your control.”

“I’m not going to cry cry over spilled milk over things I can’t control. That’s only going to hinder my success or progress. It just added fuel to fire, made my offseason workouts interesting because I’m working harder. That opportunity was taken away from me for whatever reason, so every time I step on the field or in weight room, that’s my motivation.”

Going into Sunday night’s crucial contest, Smith is slightly more laid back, yet still enthusiastic, as he believes he’s made the most out of the past two-plus seasons through watching Wilson work.

“It’s not like I haven’t been playing football at all. The difference is now, it’s physical reps,” Smith told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. “I’m getting all the reps. You always take mental reps and prepare that way, but this is about physical preparation as well, more than just the mental side of playing quarterback. This week was different because I’m taking physical reps, as well.”

Sunday’s return to the spotlight is nearly four years in the making: Smith spent a year as Rivers’ backup with the Los Angeles Chargers before settling in Seattle in 2019. Wilson’s durability has made the job of Pacific Northwest understudy a bit of an afterthought: Sunday night will mark the first time since New Year’s Day 2012 that someone other than “Russ” will start under center for the Seahawks (that honor going to the late Tavaris Jackson).

Yet, Smith had shown enough, primarily through his lasting starting endeavors with the Jets, that he could be a reliable contingency plan in case of an emergency. The West Virginia alum, after all, had his fleeting flashes of brilliance of green, including those earned in a prime time setting. For example, the second-round pick threw three touchdowns and engineered a game-winning field goal drive in a Monday night triumph in Atlanta as a rookie in 2013. While ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of the standings, Smith managed to provide temporary solace to the tumultuous teams of the 2010s, sending Rex Ryan out on the right note with a 37-24 win over Miami.

Seattle was partly rewarded when Smith allowed them to keep pace in yet another nationally televised instance: as the Seahawks struggled to keep pace with the mighty Los Angeles Rams, the departure of Wilson could’ve been damning.

Instead, Smith rose to the occasion, keeping the increasingly desperate Seahawks in the game through a 131-yard performance that yielded 10 points over his first two drives in the fourth quarter. The affair ended in heartbreak…Smith was forced into a Nick Scott interception when intended receiver Tyler Lockett fell down on a route…but it was enough to keep the faith amongst Seattle brass.

“If Geno is going to play for us some as Russ comes back, you know, he showed that we’re in good hands,” Carroll said in the LA aftermath, per Liz Mathews of Yahoo! Sports. “I was just proud for him and the fact that he hung with us all this time and believed in being part of this program. Then when he got his chance, he did really. That was pretty good.”

“I went right to Geno afterwards and said, you been waiting a long time for your opportunity,” Carroll told reporters. “The faith you’ve shown in our program and us to stay with us, so proud that when he got in there, he did great. He really looked good. He’s been working for that. He’s a talented football player.”

Smith now gets to prove such acument on a long-term basis. The opportunity provided in Seattle affords him a rare chance as a high-profile washout (a status granted through factors partly beyond his control) to reclaim the narrative on his NFL career and perhaps get back on the radars of teams searching for starters.

But Smith appears to be embracing this chance with a sense of healthy abandon, one set to savor every moment of this comeback.

“I’m fresh, I feel like I’m 21 years old. I’m ready!” Smith said during Pittsburgh prep, per Rapoport. “The moment is what it is. We have a Sunday night game in Pittsburgh. It’s one night, not the rest of my life. Mostly, it’s a game I love to play, a game that I’m passionate about. It’s one that I prepare for and am ready for whether I get to play or not. It’s not a chance to showcase anything, that’s how I see it. I’m not going to change my stripes. I’m just looking forward to playing football.”

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: The Sam Darnold trade partner power rankings

As the new NFL year officially gets underway, trade partners for New York Jets QB Sam Darnold are starting to dwindle.

To quote Evelyn Carnahan, Rachel Wiesz’s character from the beloved 1999 film The Mummy, patience is a virtue. Except, apparently, in the NFL.

The New York Jets have bided their time when it comes to their ongoing quarterback quandary. One guarantee remains, that all questions will be solved by the final hours of April 29, the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, where the Jets hold the second overall pick. All but one of the elite rookie names will likely be available to the Jets, who still have a Sam Darnold-sized question to answer: where will the third pick from 2018 take his snaps comes Week 1 of the 2021 campaign.

It’s hard to fully blame Darnold for the current, wayward state of the offense. But with the Jets holding the second overall pick and a new coach in tow, the temptation of starting fresh at football’s most vital position may be too much to resist.

But it’s possible the Jets have been too patient when it comes to Darnold’s future. Several starter-starving teams have settled their vital affairs and have found their solutions. Some took care of the matter early on (Indianapolis trading for Carson Wentz after Phillip Rivers’ retirement), while other solutions have presented themselves more recently (Andy Dalton in Chicago, New Orleans re-signing Jameis Winston after Drew Brees’ departure).

Others have remained stagnant, but at least there’s a clear plan in mind. The Jacksonville Jaguars have addressed other areas of need while actively shopping incumbent Gardner Minshew under the presumed assumption they’ll take Trevor Lawrence with the top overall pick come April. While the Jets have made some agreeable, if not downright underrated, signings this offseason, they’re no closer to solving their quarterback situation than they were in Week 17’s immediate aftermath.

Where else can the Jets turn and where will Darnold end up going? ESM ranks the remaining possibilities…

5. Washington Football Team

With Wild Card hero Taylor Heinicke and living football meme Ryan Fitzpatrick in tow, there’s no doubt that Washington’s passing endeavors will get social media clicks. But is it going to lead to wins? With Curtis Samuel joining college teammate Terry McLaurin, there’s a chance for offensive fireworks in Landover.

Washington does have a little extra draft capital that would be appropriate in a Darnold trade…they hold an extra third-round choice from the Trent Williams trade…but they’re probably set up with the pairing for the time being with their current, popular pair.

4. San Francisco 49ers

The status of incumbent Jimmy Garoppollo has been a hot topic in the Bay Area this winter, especially with the Warriors and Sharks mired in mediocrity. But, interestingly enough, Garoppollo’s future seems a bit more secure after the 49ers made Williams the highest-paid blocker in the history of football and re-upped with secret weapon Kyle Juszczyk.

The Jets have done something similar, adding Corey Davis after his career-best season, though their other offensive areas (particularly the blocking) still leave much to be desired.

3. Seattle Seahawks

The apparent displeasure of Russell Wilson in Seattle has been one of the most curious offseason sagas the NFL has had to offer. Such discontent has apparently had the Seahawks looking into trade possibilities. Wilson’s market is also a lot wider due to his status as an established star and Super Bowl champion. While Seattle has made some moves that will likely picque Wilson’s interest (adding Gerald Everett and Gabe Jackson), it’s likely nothing that’s going to make him fully buy into the Seahawks’ endeavors.

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll has reportedly expressed interest in his fellow USC football alum and the Jets’ previous dealing with the Seahawks through the closing chapters of the Jamal Adams saga. However, one has to think that Seattle, already sidelined in future capital (i.e. no first round picks for the next two years) would want to stop sending their assets out east to get a quarterback whose career has thus far defined mediocrity.

2. Denver Broncos

Denver’s in a bizarrely similar situation as the Jets in that they too are saddled with a young quarterback who has shown flashes of brilliance but not nearly enough to assure them that they don’t have to worry about their passing situation. Perhaps the arrival of another young talent would light a fire under either prospect.

The Broncos already solved one of their biggest offseason issues…exercising the $7 million option on Von Miller…and Darnold can help them solve another, the passing situation that has been in limbo since Peyton Manning retired.

1. Carolina Panthers

Robby Anderson’s time with the Jets didn’t end on a bright note, with the receiver declaring that he was “was losing (his) love for football while clad in a New York uniform. The Jets themselves made little effort to retain him, letting him walk to Carolina. But Anderson and Darnold, the closest thing the Jets have had to an explosive, big-play QB/WR combo in recent memory, still had some kind words for each other. Anderson made it clear that part of the reason he wanted to return to the Jets was because of his rapport with Darnold and the quarterback had nice things to say about Anderson even after his departure.

“Me and Robby had a really good connection over the years,” Darnold said of Anderson in May, per USA Today’s Tyler Greenawalt. “He had gotten a lot better at running routes, as time went on.”

Carolina’s quarterback situation is a questionable state at this point in time. Ex-Darnold mentor Teddy Bridgewater’s return is undoubtedly inspiring, but there are doubts he’s the long-term solution. The current backup plan is XFL star P.J. Walker, so the Panthers could stand to upgrade. Further working in Darnold’s favor is the prescience of offensive guru Matt Rhule as head coach. The NYC native has overseen collegiate offensive fireworks at Temple and Baylor and could be the perfect mind to help fulfill Darnold’s NFL potential.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: The best No. 23 picks in NFL Draft history

After Wild Card weekend, the New York Jets will pick 23rd in April’s draft, in addition to owning the No. 2 overall choice.

Jamal Adams apparently had one final parting gift for the New York Jets.

With Adams and the Seattle Seahawks falling to the Los Angeles Rams during the opening round of the 2020-21 NFL playoffs, the safety’s former comrades in New York will officially hold the 23rd overall pick in April’s NFL Draft. New York gained the pick in the trade that sent Adams out to the Pacific Northwest back in July. The Jets also hold the second overall pick in this spring’s selection proceedings and will also choose in Seattle’s slot in the 2022 draft thanks to the summer transaction.

With the selection solidified, who are some of the great names chosen at 23rd overall? ESM looks back…

1951: LB Bill George, Chicago

George revolutionized defense in football, often credited as the first “middle” linebacker in the history of the game. His antics are also attributed to the creation of the 4-3 defense, which he used to his advantage to the tune of 18 interceptions during a 15-year NFL tenure. He was named to eight Pro Bowls and first-team All-Pro squads each and also guided the Bears to the 1963 NFL championship. George’s No. 61 is retired by the Bears and was also named to the NFL’s all-decade squad for the 1950s.

1959: OL Dick Schafrath, Cleveland

No matter what happened, Schafrath was probably going to leave an impact on Ohio sports. By the time his high school days were done, he was being actively recruited by the Cincinnati Reds baseball club and Woody Hayes’ Ohio State football program. Schafrath opted for the gridiron, developing a no-nonsese work ethic that earned him the nick name of “The Mule”. He went on to make seven Pro Bowl squad appearances and earn four first-team All-Pro nods over the course of his NFL career (1959-71) before entering politics in 1983. Schafrath would go on to serve over 14 years as a Republican State Senator in Ohio’s 19th District.

1973: P Ray Guy, Oakland

Choosing a punter with the 23rd overall pick seems like a ridiculous notion, but Guy lived up to his billing and then some over a 14-year career with the Raiders organization. He partook in 207 consecutive NFL games and landed 210 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard-line since 1976 (when the NFL first started tracking such a stat). In 2014, Guy became the first exclusive punter (and first exclusive special teamer since Jan Stenerud) to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Today, the top honor to the best collegiate punter in the nation is known as the Ray Guy Award.

1978: TE Ozzie Newsome, Cleveland

Though Newsome is perhaps better known for his exploits off the field through his endeavors as the Baltimore Ravens’ general manager and the Byron “Whizzer” White Man of the Year Award, he was one of the most dominant tight ends of the 1980s. Newsome remains the Browns’ all-time leader in receiving yardage (7,980) and receptions (662) and appears as the tight end of the Hall of Fame’s all-decade squad. He would go on to make history in 2002, serving as not only the first general manager of the Ravens but the first African-American in league history to hold the title. Baltimore has won two Super Bowl titles with Newsome in the front office, most recently in 2013.

1983: DE Jim Jeffcoat, Dallas

The New Jersey native (Long Branch) had big shoes to fill in replacing former Super Bowl MVP Harvey Martin on America’s Team. He filled them in rather nicely, becoming a star attraction in some of the leanest years in Cowboys history. Once the team started to started to return to prominence upon the arrival of Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, Jeffcoat’s dominance rose to a national level, partaking in first two championships of the Dallas dynasty in the 1990s. Jeffcoat retired with 102.5 sacks, one of only 35 defenders to reach triple digits in the category in his NFL career.

1987: T Bruce Armstrong, New England

Armstrong retired just before the Patriots’ dominance began, but he built a strong career as a reliable blocker. Over a 14-year career, Armstrong started all but 12 possible games in a New England uniform, making six Pro Bowls in the process (including one during the Patriots’ run to the Super Bowl in 1996-97). Though he was unable to earn a ring before departing, Armstring’s No. 78 is retired by the Patriots.

1995: CB Ty Law, New England 

Law earned 59 interceptions in his NFL career, none of which were more important than his lone postseason touchdown. His interception of Kurt Warner came during the first-half proceedings of Super Bowl XXXVI, taking it back 47 yards to give the Patriots a lead they would never relinquish against the St. Louis Rams. That score kicked off the New England dynasty in earnest, setting off a streak of six Super Bowl titles over the next decade-plus. Law stuck around for two more of those championships and appears on both the 1990s and 2000s versions of the Patriots’ official all-decade squads. The defender included a brief tour of New York in his Hall of Fame career, earning a career-best 10 interceptions during the 2005 season.

1999: CB Antoine Winfield, Buffalo

Winfield bookended his rookie season by earning an interception of Peyton Manning in his first contest and ended it with a takeaway of Steve McNair during the AFC Wild Card playoffs in Tennessee. After five years with the declining Bills, Winfield made a strong name for himself in Minnesota, earning 22 interceptions and establishing himself as one of the hardest hitters in the league. By the time the 2000s ended, Winfield was one of four players to earn at least 600 tackles, 65 pass breakups, 15 interceptions, and 10 forced fumbles, a brotherhood that also featured Ray Lewis, Ronde Barber, and Keith Bulluck. Winfield would later be named one of the “50 Greatest Vikings” during the team’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 2010. His son, Antoine Jr., is currently in the midst of his rookie season with Tampa Bay.

2001: RB Deuce McAllister, New Orleans

Injury woes perhaps tragically denied us of the true Deuce McAllister experience. Originally called upon to pick up the Saints’ rushing pieces after the Ricky Williams misfire, McAllister topped 1,000 yards in four of his first six seasons, including a career-best 1,641 in 2003. But two torn ACLs over three seasons ended his career prematurely, forcing New Orleans to turn to the services of Reggie Bush. Though he sat out the entire 2009-10 season, the Saints remembered McAllister’s contributions to the team. He was signed shortly before the team’s Divisional playoff matchup en route to the Super Bowl, serving as the honorary captain for their win over Arizona. McAllister did not play but was allowed to retire with a championship ring when New Orleans won Super Bowl XLIV.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

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

New York Jets, Jordan Jenkins

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

His Poor Performance

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

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

Why the dip in production?

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

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

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

The New York Jets are proving Jamal Adams right after latest loss

New York Jets, Jamal Adams

In their latest defeat, the most one-sided in the Adam Gase era, the New York Jets fulfilled their former star’s most damning declaration.

Sue Bird, Alysha Clark, Jewell Loyd, Breanna Stewart, and the rest of the defending WNBA champions were nowhere to be found in the spectator-free settings of Lumen Field on Sunday late afternoon. Yet, the New York Jets were forced to deal with a new brand of Seattle Storm.

Metropolitan football fans, especially those of the green variety, are no doubt used to gridiron disappointment at this time of the year, but the visit to the Emerald City set new standards for futility. In a day and age of glorified offense, the Jets put a grand total of 13 yards over the final 30 minutes. Had the Seahawks not mercifully pulled their starters in the game’s latter stages, that number could’ve well been in the red, as 28 of those yards came on a meaningless final drive. The ensuing final deficit of 40-3 was also the worst loss overseen by Adam Gase in his two years at the helm. Gase’s tenure has seen its share of unique achievements, albeit ones the Jets never wanted to see fulfilled. Seattle, for example, dealt the Jets (0-13) their 13th consecutive loss, a landmark even Rich Kotite’s doomed bunch managed to avoid.

The quaddrennial matchup with the Seahawks also carried the subplot of the Jets’ reunion with Jamal Adams, who spares no opportunity to talk about just how dreary things got for him as rare beacon of hope in the New York football realm. Adams made the game memorable with his own bit of history, as a first-half sack of Sam Darnold allowed him to take hold of the NFL’s single-season record for sacks by a defensive back (8.5), a record he came tantalizingly close to in his final season in green. Adams was even able to make up for a dropped interception that could’ve led to a touchdown in the first half, a mishap long forgotten when all was said and done.

The historic takedown was part of a showcase for former Jets in the Pacific Northwest, as Damon Harrison, Jason Myers, and Brandon Shell all played major roles in the victory. Even former franchise quarterback Geno Smith came in to complete 4-of-5 passes for 33 yards against a beleaguered Jets defense after Russell Wilson beat them for four touchdown passes.

Adams has spared no opportunity to speak negatively about his time of New York, but was congenial to his former comrades after the final seconds ticked away. He notable shared a hug with Gase, who told the safety to “go get one”, referring to a Super Bowl, according to Adams himself.

“(Gase) told me to go get one. He was talking about a Super Bowl,” Adams said of the exchange, per Max Goodman of Sports Illustrated. “A lot of the guys came up to us and I don’t want to blow our guys’ heads up or myself, which I’m not, but they were just saying that we have a great team. And we’ve always believed in that. But he just congratulated me, wished me well, told me to stay healthy.”

Seattle (9-4) currently holds the top NFC wild-card spot and is engaged in a battle with the Los Angeles Rams for the NFC West division title. It’s a stark contrast to his seasons in green, where playoff opportunities were often closed before Halloween, but Adams nonetheless had some friendly words toward his former employers in his postgame statements.

“At the end of the day, I don’t have any hate towards, not even just Gase, toward the organization,” Adams said in another report from Greg Joyce of the New York Post. “Everybody just had different views. We had to move different. We had to take a different leap. Obviously the trade happened and I’m happy to be here. I wish those guys nothing but the best, I really do. I mean that. I know a lot of Jets fans don’t really think I’m coming from the heart, but I really am. I’m thankful for my time over there because I don’t take it for granted.”

Adams’ kind words and well wishes to the Jets at the conclusion of an interconference shellacking could be closure of sorts for a Jets team that had some trouble moving on the early going (the departed Gregg Williams’ claim that Adams would get “bored” in Seattle seems particularly silly). But Sunday’s game showed more or less proved one of Adams’ most damning comments about the Jets correct.

“They do not want to win.” 

It was clear long before Sunday’s kickoff that Adams had the last laugh in the exchange between the two sides, if only because Adams has a chance to play for a Super Bowl while the Jets have been reshuffling their draft board since late September. But, in their futility, the Jets were given a macabre silver lining: the final hours of the woebegone 2020 season gave them a chance to not only conduct free research and development for 2021 and beyond, but they had a chance to play with relative reckless abandon. Free from the relative “burden” of playoff positioning, the Jets could use whatever means necessary to get a win. Sure, it would anger the cult of the No. 1 pick, a fanatical gathering dedicated to losing for the greater good of the ongoing “endeavor for Trevor (Lawrence)”, but former Jets boss Herm Edwards said it best when he declared “you play to win the game”.

Wins themselves, as the Jets have proven time and time again, might be a little too much to ask for at this point in time with the Jets, but they’ve shown they’re capable of strong efforts. This was a team that was, after all, one poorly-timed blitz away from more or less removing the Las Vegas Raiders from the playoff conversation as little as a weekend ago. Fight and resiliency should’ve been words ingrained in the locker room, etched into whiteboards through the facility.

Alas for New York, those qualities never came during their stay at Lumen Field. A week after Ty Johnson and Josh Adams united for 178 yards on the ground against Las Vegas (the Jets’ best rushing game in over two calendar years), Gase resumed his tradition of giving carries to a 37-year-old Frank Gore while the game was still manageable. As the Seahawks’ lead inflated, the Jets had opportunities to cut into their deficit, but opted for Sergio Castillo field goals instead (Castillo’s 1-for-4 day only adding to the Jets’ plight). Granted one last opportunity to escape from Seattle with a touchdown on the final drive, mostly overseen by the Seahawks’ defensive understudies, the Jets opted to instead run the clock out.

All of this has been overseen by Gase, whose New York ledger drops to 7-22, good for a .241 win percentage that’s better than only Kotite amongst Jets coaches who earned at least one full year at the helm. Gase remains on the New York sidelines, outlasting not only several of his NFL contemporaries, but also outlasting accomplished veterans like Le’Veon Bell, Steve McLendon, Avery Williamson, Pierre Desir, and Williams.

Does that sound like a team that’s trying to win games?

Again, no one was expecting a green miracle from the Jets, but the lackadaisical manner in how they’re conducting themselves is troubling from many standpoints. They could, for example, gain clarity on their 2021 run game through Johnson and Adams, but opt instead to give things off to Gore, whose retirement approaches. There are certainly players who are bucking the trend of inactivity…SportsCenter Top 10 mainstay Marcus Maye and backfield invader Folorunso Fatikasi are certainly doing their part…but the Jets are corrupting both their present and future through their modern struggles. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the top overall pick, be it Lawrence, Justin Fields, or an unknown third party.

But the best thing the Jets can do over these last few weeks is glean as many positives as they can before the year lets out while gaining clarity for their future. They’re proving Adams’ propehcy correct. At this point, the Jets look like a team that’s given up on the idea of winning not just in the present, but in the future as well. That needs to change, not even to prove that Adams wrong…that shouldn’t be anywhere near their list of concerns. It’s a matter of personal pride, a desire to change the course of this star-crossed franchise moving forward. That all starts with hanging your head high, going all out in the most dire of situations. The Jets are there, but couldn’t be lower as the season draws to a close.

The Jets seem well-destined to join the 2008 Detroit Lions and 2017 Cleveland Browns in the unholy brotherhood of 16-game imperfection. At this point, sympathy can be garnered. They’re overmatched and ready to make changes. The least they can do is make it look like they’re trying to avoid such a fate.

The only scary part for Adams? He and the Seahawks need some help from the Jets. New York’s trek of futility carries on next weekend against another contending foe, battling none other than the Rams at SoFi Stadium next Sunday afternoon (4:05 p.m. ET, Fox).

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Jamal Adams has the last laugh (for now)

Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams’ methods of departure were unconventional, but one look at the current New York Jets shows that he had a point.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zip7sTieTRY&ab_channel=NFL

Looking back on the calamity that was 2020, it’s hard to believe that some noteworthy occurrences happened this year. Phenomena like the rebooted XFL, the tweaked NBA All-Star Game, and the world’s uncanny fascination with Netflix’s Tiger King seem like they happened decades ago, but will forever be copyrighted with the insignia of 2020.

New York Jets fans likely feel the same way with Jamal Adams and his turbulent exit.

Surprisingly, it’s been less than a full calendar year since Adams donned the green, black, and white that the modern New York Jets’ uniforms carry. A wet, dreary contest against a Buffalo Bills team resting starters for the playoffs saw Adams register three tackles and a pass breakup in a 13-6 Jets win. Utterly forgettable by every sense of the football imagination, it stands as a gridiron landmark if only because that’s the last time the Jets have been on the right end of an NFL scoreboard.

At the time, few could envision that it would be the last dance for Adams (and Robby Anderson, but the Jets don’t play Carolina until 2021). Adams had avoided addressing the future but certainly implied there was one between him and the Jets by referring to the otherwise meaningless win as “the start of our next season”.

“It’s confidence carrying over into the off-season,” Adams said of the game, per Ethan Greenberg of NewYorkJets.com. “Everybody is going to be watching the playoffs and we’re going to have a bad taste in our mouths, but it’s just going to feed us.”

That meal, of course, never came. Apparently miffed at the lack of a long-term contract, Adams went to pretty much napalm every bridge he had left in New York, routinely calling out the organization’s failures since he joined the team as a first-round pick in 2017 and telling anyone who would listen that he wanted out unless a stable contract was presented. The Jets eventually struck a deal with the Seattle Seahawks, sending Adams over for Bradley McDougald and a pair of first-round choices.

But Adams’ true frustrations really seemed to stem from the Jets’ lack of on-field success. He was more than happy to join the Seahawks even when Seattle stressed patience in offering him the desired deal. The ongoing health crisis could’ve well played a role, but the optics made it seem like Adams was turning the Jets into a punchline one last time.

Even when the deal has done, neither side has truly seemed to have gotten over their breakup. A reunion awaits this weekend as the Jets descend upon Lumen Field on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS), and the parting of ways remains fresh on each party’s mind.

Jamal Adams
CREDIT: McManus Designs

It was obvious that Adams’ get-together with his former comrades was going to come up during each side’s weekly availability. Head coach Adam Gase’s comments made headlines earlier this week when he was dumbfounded by the idea of animosity between him and the defender.

“I thought it was good, but obviously he felt different. I don’t know, I never had any poor interactions with him,” Gase said, per Jeff Kerr of CBS Sports. “he was somebody I talked to a lot and communicated with. Just kind of once the offseason hit, that’s kind of where…there’s nothing I can do, I’m not in charge of contracts. I’m not involved in those talks. That’s kind of where his agent and front office guys got to go to work.”

“I knew when we lost how much it hurt him, like I knew that. He’s a competitor, man. He has no interest in coming on the wrong end of the stick in the win-loss column. He feels like he sells out and gives everything he has, and he wants to win. I mean he wants to do everything he can to win.”

Adams spoke later in the week and offered a roller-coaster, maybe even contradictory, statement about his time in New York.

“The guys that make the decisions over there, they just didn’t value me like Seattle does and I appreciate that,” he said, per Brady Henderson of ESPN. “There’s no hard feelings towards them. They had different views. I had a different view, but at the end of the day, I’m just happy to be where I am and I have an organization that believes in me, believes I can get it done, and thinks highly of me. That’s all I can ask for, man. It’s just all about respect for me.”

The defender’s comments have been, and will continue to be, scrutinized to no end. But at this point, no rationally-minded football fan can deny that the last laugh belongs to Adams.

Adams or no Adams, 2020 was going to be a struggle for the modern Jets. Even with expanded playoff real estate, too many established served as roadblocks to the seven-team sweepstakes. But the team nonetheless looked at their future with a sense of immediacy. one look from the Jets’ offseason ledger should’ve told Adams that 2020 was not the time or place to think about a long-term deal. Debate can reign over whether that message was conveyed clearly, but Adams certainly didn’t believe it was, even as the Jets added free agents on a de facto audition-style basis. But what was done is done. There’s no use in looking at what feels like ancient history or analyzing the ins and outs of a deal that will only be complete by 2022 at the earliest.

The best move the Jets could’ve made in the deal’s aftermath was to wish Adams well and focus on their own affairs. Bygones could be bygones…let Adams worry about his past, let the focus be on the future. Alas, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams couldn’t get on board with that.

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

In perhaps a bit of irony reserved for the darkest reaches of the popular sports-prognostication-gone-wrong account @OldTakesExposed, Williams is left to brood in boredom while Adams closes in on history.

Adams has served as the closest thing to a consistent silver lining that Seattle has had in an otherwise brutal year defensively in the secondary. Only lowly Jacksonville has let up more yardage through the air than the Seahawks (407.4 per game), whose roller-coaster season has reached a new valley with a loss to the Jets’ blue metropolitan counterparts last weekend. But Adams has carried on his propensity for backfield invasions. In only eight games, he has broken his career-best in sacks set last season in New York with 7.5…a half-takedown short of Adrian Wilson for the most by a defensive back in a single season. The fateful sack could well victimize Sam Darnold with both Greg Van Roten and Alex Lewis out on the offensive line and Denzel Mims missing from the receiving corps.

Such a happening would no doubt cause many to break out the “LOL Jets” memes and serve as another bumbling chapter in the Jets’ ongoing trek toward complete 16-game imperfection. It would go well beyond a simple sack, but, if it were to happen, could well personify and fulfill Adams’ most damning comments bestowed to his former green employers.

New York Jets, Jamal Adams
 Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Adams sat down with Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden on the latter duo’s All Things Covered podcast in November. In a discussion about his time and falling out with the Jets, Adams admitted he suffered from depression as the losses piled in New York. It was enough for Adams’ father George, himself a former first-round pick in New York (albeit for the Jets’ blue counterparts), to start encouraging Adams’ agent to start looking for greener pastures…ones that didn’t include “Jets” imprinted on his helmet.

“I fought depression in New York,” Adams said on the podcast. “I’m man enough to say it. I came home after a tough loss and just sat in my room in the dark. No phone, no TV. (My dad) hated to see me like that. It killed my pops so much.”

“Rebuild” became a dreaded buzzword. The aforementioned win over Buffalo was commemorated with a locker room celebration as it allowed the Jets to finish 7-9…unacceptable elsewhere, but a cause for jubilation in New York, which had reached such a summit for only the second time over the last six full seasons.

Admas’ biggest takeaway? “They do not want to win”.

“Money’s a plus, but I love the game of football,” Adams said. “I love what I do … I was sick of hearing ‘the rebuild year’,” Adams continued. “I was bringing the juice back to the Jets,” Adams said. “I simply told them, ‘Hey man, if you guys want to keep me here to be a Jet for life, let’s sit down and talk. This is after the fact they told me, ‘We wanna offer you an extension. I felt like I was being disrespected.”

“Let’s be honest, the Jets were the laughingstock. (Seattle) is how the NFL is supposed to be. This is the dream I was dreaming.”

Williams’ ousting is the latest move of an ongoing purge that should continue well into the Jets’ offseason. Among those who went before him were Adams’ fellow defensive starters like Avery Williams, Steve McLendon, and Pierre Desir. Le’Veon Bell was cast away from the offense through an outright release months after little, if any, attempt was made to keep Anderson, who’s now a beacon in the Carolina’s more organized rebuild. All the while, Gase, who has had to snuff out rumors of in-fighting between him, Adams, and Bell, continues to oversee the operation, somehow inching his way closer to the upper half of the league’s longest-tenured coaches. His ousting could well come after yet another meaningless Week 17 game, this one coming in Foxboro against the Patriots on January 3. But considering all the names the Jets have given up on before they gave up on Gase, his firing feels anything but certain.

Does that sound like a team that wants to win?

Seattle winning the early portions of this trade was likely to be expected. McDougald, who spent a majority of this season injured, is the only piece of the Adams trade with a name so far, as the Jets are set to choose twice in each of the next two opening draft rounds after acquiring Seattle’s picks. Adams was the perfect piece for a team on the cusp of the Super Bowl to add, and he’s doing what he can to help his new cause. In Seattle, seven wins is a step, not a destination.

But, through their play, the Jets are proving Adams right, almost writing their own warning for any big-name talent that want to join their cause through free agency or the draft.

The Jets’ first step in yet another reset must be to prove Adams wrong. That, more than likely, won’t involve victories in the early going. If the heartbreak against Las Vegas from last weekend proved anything, it’s that the Jets really couldn’t care in the slightest about the concept of tanking. If anything, they should continue to use these final four weeks to build any positives and complete their offseason shopping list for yet another reset.

If it proves Adams wrong in the process…well, they’ll take any kind of victory they can get at this point.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants: Week 13 matchup with Seahawks would be favorable for Daniel Jones if healthy

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants are uncertain of their starting quarterback’s status heading into Week 13. During the team’s crucial Week 12 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, the Giants lost quarterback Daniel Jones with a hamstring injury. Jones has not practiced this week, but is likely to practice in some capacity on Friday with the hopes of playing in Sunday’s matchup with the Seahawks.

If Daniel Jones is not ready to play by Sunday, that would be a huge loss for the New York Giants. New York is set to play the formidable, 8-3 Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. This would be a tough game for the Giants to win anyway, but Daniel Jones could have given New York a real shot.

The Seattle Seahawks’ defense is one of the worst in the NFL. They have allowed opposing quarterbacks to tear their secondary to shreds, week after week. It is hard to imagine Colt McCoy continuing that trend, though. But Daniel Jones has really improved his play in recent weeks and will be looking at a favorable matchup on Sunday if he is able to play.

The Seattle Seahawks Secondary

The Seattle Seahawks’ secondary is allowing, by far, the most passing yards per game in 2020. Opposing quarterbacks are averaging 328.8 yards per game against Seattle this season. This is happening despite the team’s key acquisition of star safety Jamal Adams.

Jamal Adams has not had the huge impact on this defense that many expected him to. He has allowed a 76.9% completion percentage in coverage this year and surrendered 330 total yards in 7 games this season. He is also missing tackles at a higher rate than he ever has, posting a 13.0% missed tackle percentage. Adams has earned an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 63.9, indicating a clear regression in performance from last season. In 7 games this season, Adams has surrendered 20 completions. In 14 games last season, he surrendered 21 receptions.

The Seahawks’ secondary has struggled all season long. Seattle is allowing opposing offenses to score 27.6 points per game. This could have been a big week for Daniel Jones, who has come into his own in recent weeks. Daniel Jones has not turned the ball over in the Giants’ last three games. Playing his best football, it would  be an exciting matchup for Jones as Seattle owns the league’s worst secondary in the NFL.

If Daniel Jones is healthy enough to play on Sunday, the Giants absolutely should let him play. Of course, there are risks that come along with that. Letting Jones play this week risks him reinjuring his hamstring and being out an even longer period of time. But if Jones is able to play against this terrible Seahawks secondary, he could lead the Giants to a potential upset. New York is racing a tight race to the playoffs right now. They need to get as many wins as they can and do everything they can to obtain these wins. One can only hope that Daniel Jones is healthy enough to play against a week Seattle defense on Sunday.

Four plays that shaped the Buffalo Bills’ Sunday fate vs. Seattle

The Buffalo Bills made a definitive statement on Sunday afternoon, topping the NFC front-runners from Seattle in convincing fashion.

The Buffalo Bills were able to silence both the 12th Man and, perhaps, their biggest detractors on Sunday afternoon, earning one of the memorable victories in recent franchise memory on Sunday afternoon.

Josh Allen was responsible for four touchdowns and earned 415 yards through the air, while Stefon Diggs and John Brown united for 227 receiving yards. On defense, the Bills took down Russell Wilson five times (Tremaine Edmunds being responsible for half of that tally) and also forced the renowned Super Bowl champion into two interceptions, paving the way to a 44-34 victory at Bills Stadium. Buffalo (7-2) is off to their best start since 1993…the year of their last Super Bowl appearance. They took down a Seahawks team (6-2) that had entered the day atop the NFC playoff standings.

The gravity of the victory wasn’t lost on observers.

“It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Sunday’s win could be a tone-setter for the Bills,” Bleacher Report’s Gary Davenport noted. “They’re after more than just an AFC East title in 2020. This is a team with genuine Super Bowl aspirations, and they showed against the Seahawks that they can take it to one of the better teams in the NFL.”

ESM looks back at the big plays of Sunday’s game, one from each quarter, that could help shape the team’s past, present, and apparently bright future…

1st Quarter: Let’s Hear For the Poyer

The opening frame was a statement for Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense. It was a showing that saw them drastically outplay Seattle, torching the defense for 117 yards over their first two possessions en route to a 14-0 lead. But Seattle has built up their past-decade dominance through adapting to tough situations. Sure enough, Wilson guided the Seahawks to Buffalo’s five-yard-line, facing a single-yard fourth down five yards away from paydirt. It was at that point many expected Seattle to score and restore some semblance of sanity to the proceedings. Alas for The Emerald City, Poyer had other plans.

With Wilson working on his deadly rollout, Poyer started off by keeping an eye on Travis Homer. But the strong Buffalo pass rush forced Wilson to scramble. In slight desperation, he flung a pass that went over the head of Homer and into the waiting arms of Poyer, setting Western New York into hysterics. The Bills would take advantage of the mistake and build their lead back up to 17-0.

It’s perhaps a shame we won’t be having the Pro Bowl this season, as Poyer seems well on his way to making his first. Alas for the NFL’s all-star game, it appears he has his sights set on a bigger bowl of sorts.

2nd Quarter: All-in for Allen

The foreboding sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop has been far too commonplace in 2020. Certainly, the heads of Bills fans across the area were waiting to wake up, thrust away from the dream of owning a three-possession lead on a team many envision topping the NFC at the end of the year. Such leads are entirely erasable in today’s NFL, and Seattle seemed poised to finally do so after scoring a touchdown after the aforementioned Tyler Bass field goal.

It was gut-check time for Buffalo, a team teetering on the cusp of the NFL’s elite. In years past, a collapse may have followed, one that would’ve kept the Bills’ doubters plenty of material. Instead, they embarked on a 75-yard drive that featured the face of their franchise taking another big step on the glory. Josh Allen went 5-for-5 on the next drive, capping things off with a four-yard scoring pass to Gabriel Davis.

It’s been an emotional week for Allen, who lost his grandmother Patricia shortly before the Seattle effort. But Bills fans have come through for their franchise quarterback, donating over $200,000 to a children’s hospital in her honor. Allen seems more than happy to return the love, giving the vocal Bills’ fanbase a reason to hope and believe in a cursed year.

3rd Quarter: Playing the Neal

The Bills’ defense had their own gut check in the latter stages of the third quarter. Their lead was back down to 27-17 and Seattle was driving, inching toward another sense of football normalcy. Buffalo had already shot themselves in the foot earlier in the drive, as Jerry Hughes’ roughing the passer call situated the Seahawks inside their opponent’s 30.

But the Bills held strong with a big stand, as the touchdown threat ended when Wilson’s pass on third-and-seven failed to reach Tyler Lockett in the end zone. Wilson was forced into a desperation heave by secondary pressure from Siran Neal, who came off the edge to push Wilson into a crowded pocket, leading to his inaccurate throw and the Seahawks’ second field goal of the day. It was the last time that Buffalo would truly have to sweat things out; the Bills’ offense would score another touchdown on their next possession, this one being a one-yard rush from Zack Moss, to put them ahead by multiple possessions for good.

4th Quarter: What Can Brown Do For You?

Sunday’s tilt was a game of gut checks, of proving oneself, of impressing the NFL community at large…sending a theme here? But noting such occurrences only strengthens the case that the Bills are one of the NFL’s most dangerous, most elite teams to be reckoned with. They had one more hoops to jump through after the aforementioned Jason Myers field goal, as a six-yard rushing loss had them situated at a 16-yard third down at the fringe of field goal territory.

The ensuing playcall was curious…an Allen screen to John Brown just behinf the line of scrimmage. But the Bills would go on to continue what they’ve done best: prove doubters wrong through team efforts.

Brown’s speed and elusiveness was just one factor behind the play’s success. Strong blocking ahead from Daryl Williams and Ike Boettger helped clear the way, and receiver Cole Beasley even managed to delay a Seattle defender from stopping Brown short. The struggling veteran Brown, seeking some 2020 traction after earning a career-best 1,060 yards last season, was stopped two yards short of the goal line, but the Bills settled the matter shortly after with another minuscule scoring run from Moss.

The defensive effort perhaps left something to be desired, giving up 34 points, but each of the Bills’ gamechanging plays were a team built on resiliency, strength, and collaborative endeavors. It led to what could bar none be the franchise’s biggest, loudest win over the past decade-plus.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets newcomer Bradley McDougald goes on the recruiting trail

If social media is to be trusted, Bradley McDougald is making sure he won’t be the only Seattle transplant with the 2020 New York Jets.

Bradley McDougald has yet to play a down with the New York Jets, but he’s already trying to make a big play.

The newly acquired safety, thus far the only named acquisition from the Jamal Adams trade, is apparently trying to make sure he’s not the only former Seattle Seahawk to suit up for the Jets this season. A Monday night Twitter post featured a screenshot of a FaceTime conversation between him and former fellow Seattle defender Jadeveon Clowney. According to McDougald, Clowney is interested in a reunion, this one in a new shade of green.

Spoke to my boy (Clowney) today, told me to the tell the (Jets) to come get him!!” McDougald happily declares in the caption accompanying the photo. “Let’s make it happen.” 

Clowney and the Seahawks have been unable to come to terms on a long-term deal. He is currently listed as a free agent.
The 27-year-old defensive end didn’t secure a long-term deal with his original employers in Houston, having been franchise tagged last offseason. Houston dealt him to the Seahawks eight days before their opening week contest in exchange for Jacob Martin, Barkevious Mingo, and a third-round draft pick (which they later dealt to the Raiders). Clowney picked up 31 tackles, including three sacks, last season in Seattle to accompany four forced fumbles and his first career interception. He has earned 27.5 sacks over the last four seasons between his time with the Texans and Seahawks. In comparison, Jordan Jenkins is the current Jets’ leader in sacks in that span with 20.5.
Clowney is reportedly seeking a deal in the circa $20 million range, a landmark only three active defensive linemen (Aaron Donald, DeForest Buckner, Chris Jones) have reached. The Jets currently have just over $21 million in cap space with training camp set to open this week.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags