The New York Jets had a 2018 to forget, going 4-12 in the AFC East on their way to a fourth-place finish. That statistic, combined with the franchise’s 5-10-1 record against the spread ultimately cost head coach Todd Bowles his job.
Former Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase is the man charged with steering the Jets through the 2019 season and although it’s started slowly, reflected by the football betting markets, there are reasons for Jets fans to be optimistic this season.
2018 In Review – What Went Wrong?
The Jets started their 2018 campaign in an inconsistent fashion. After an impressive opening day win against the Lions, the team lost three matches in a row before stringing back-to-back wins together against the Broncos and the Colts respectively.
In those opening six clashes, the Jets suffered a series of injuries in the running back positions. Their replacements failed to step up to the plate heaping unnecessary pressure on the already overworked quarterback Sam Darnold. Understandably, Darnold struggled to carry his side with the Jets losing six straight league games and nine of their remaining ten fixtures. Todd Bowles’ defensive master plan collapsed like a house of cards, leaving his side looking vulnerable at the back and rudderless in offense. Bowles paid the price for his team’s startling lack of form, making way for his replacement Adam Gase.
Todd Bowles’ replacement Adam Gase is the first offensive coaching appointment made by the Jets this side of the Millennium. Throughout the majority of his career, Gase has been known for his offensive calls and nous. However, during his prior role as head coach of the Miami Dolphins, Gase had a questionable offensive record. In his last three seasons with the franchise, they finished fourteenth, twenty-seventh and twenty-sixth in Football Outsiders DVOA rankings.
According to the man himself, this was a conscious decision, as he sought to sacrifice statistics for results. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill wasn’t producing the goods, so Gase changed his tactics accordingly. The new coach promises this won’t be the case at the Jets, with Sam Darnold showing plenty of promise and the presence of a few dangerous receivers in the roster. Gase’s success will rest on how quickly he is able to implement a new style of play with the Jets.
There could be teething problems early on that result in yet more inconsistent performances, however, it is the long-term that the Jets have looked to with this appointment.
Le’Veon Bell – Running Back
Traditional wisdom tells you that this is a bad move. Paying big money for a free agent running back is usually a recipe for disaster, but this could actually turn out to be an inspired piece of business for the Jets. Sam Darnold was absolutely crying out for quality players around him last season, and in Le’Veon Bell it looks like he finally has one. The former Steelers man has been on New York Jet’s radar for some time, and was indeed expected to join the franchise last season.
Bell’s acquisition was one of Maccagnan’s final acts as the Jets general manager, and he will be hoping it was a smart move which may make the team regret dispensing of his services. 26-year-old wide receiver Jamison Crowder will add vigor, zest and running to the Jets sickly looking offense. As a player that operates in the slot, he will prove invaluable for Adam Gase as he looks to revamp the Jets.
Bringing Le’Veon Bell to the Jets is certainly a gamble, but one the Jets will be hoping pays off
Jamison Crowder – Wide Receiver
Crowder is a player that knows how to get one-on-one and isolate his opponent, something which the team lacked last season. During preseason he has demonstrated his ability to get fans out of their seats with a string of encouraging displays. Every ‘top 5 wide receivers’ article you read from now until Christmas should feature Jamison Crowder – if it doesn’t, stop reading it, it’s wrong. The Jets were bereft of match-winners in 2018; with the arrival of Crowder that is no longer the case.
The Key Man – Sam Darnold
It’s neither insightful nor impressive to identify Sam Darnold as the key man for the New York Jets in the 2019 season. To offer more context though, with the right guidance from Adam Gase it could be Darnold’s best-ever season. Whilst it’s clear that his teammates let him down on occasion last season, it would be wrong to absolve Darnold completely of blame. Although he does possess an impressive arm, it’s in the head that he struggles. In key moments last season Darnold’s decision making was questionable at best and his tendency to rush it or panic frustrated Jets fans. In reality though, how good can a quarterback be when his offense is bad? Answer – not very.
Not only will Gase’s emphasis on offensive plays offer Darnold more options and chances to pick a pass, but his experience and knowledge should go some way to improving Darnold’s decision making. After being let down by Ryan Tannehill at Miami, Gase will be eager to get the most out of his new star quarterback. If his mentoring pays off, Darnold could go from good to great this season.
Will the 2019 season be a breakout year for Jets quarterback Sam Darnold?
New York Jets Goals
This early in the season, it should be the god-given right of every football fan to think their team can win the championship. Whilst it would be unfair to deny Jets fans of this opportunity, we would like to exercise caution. Make no bones about it, last season was awful, dreadful, catastrophic even. The goal for this season should be just to improve, to regain that winning feeling and to excite fans along the way. Adam Gase’s first goal should be to double the franchise’s wins from last season. Anything more than that will surely be an added bonus.