In many ways, the New York Jets 2020 season has been one that has gone wrong in just about every way imaginable. Under head coach Adam Gase, they are at the bottom of the NFL rankings (again), Sam Darnold has missed time due to injury (again) and struggled when healthy, the offense has been built around a 37-year-old running back and the defense has been a disaster. But there is one positive emerging, and it’s a very encouraging one.
Since losing Peyton Manning, Adam Gase has never seen his team's offense improve from one year to the next as an OC/HC. 2020 will be the first time his team didn't get worse after finishing dead last both times.
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) November 13, 2020
After having several rookies miss much of the season due to a variety of injuries, the Jets most recent crop of picks is getting healthy, they’re getting on the field and many of them are doing some very good things.
While there are some concerns regarding 11th overall pick Mekhi Becton who is awaiting test results regarding a “chest injury” that the team isn’t being very clear about, the big man looks primed to become one of the NFL’s most dominant blockers for years to come if he’s able to stay on the field. And looking at this class beyond Becton, things are definitely looking up.
Rookie receiver Denzel Mims missed all of training camp and much of the season before coming back to make his debut just a few weeks ago. Through his first 3 games, the Baylor product has 10 receptions for 146 yards. Not bad for a rookie without a single day of training camp and a couple months on the shelf. In limited action, Mims has opened some eyes with is ability to pluck the ball out of the air and make people miss. If this is Mims with little to no live action to prepare, Jets fans can’t wait to see what he does with a full off-season and pre-season under his belt.
After a rough outing against the Kansas City Chiefs, rookie safety Ashtyn Davis was used in the Jamal Adams role against the Patriots on Monday Night Football and looked like a much better player. Davis came away with a couple of quarterback hits, five tackles and a pass defended as Gregg Williams lined him up all over the field. Davis saw reps at both outside linebacker spots, in the slot and at free safety. An ultra-athletic player, Davis appears to be a guy who can use his athleticism to bring a lot to the table.
As previously mentioned, Adam Gase made the decision to build his offense around running back Frank Gore but is now reportedly ready to move on to rookie running back La’Mical Perine in the starter’s role. Perine hasn’t been overly impressive in limited action this season, but the Jets lack of imaginative play calling and commitment to keep the ball within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage has meant overloaded boxes with little running room. If Monday night against the Patriots is any indicator, having Breshad Perriman, Jamison Crowder and Mims in the lineup, teams may have to back off a bit if the Jets start trying to push the ball down the field. If this turns out to be the case, we may see Perine run with a bit more room to work with. While Gore has been the more decisive runner this season, Perine is clearly the more athletic option.
Defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga and cornerback Bryce Hall have made it on to the field but neither has had enough action to get a real feel as to how much they may be capable of. One would hope to see a heavy dose of both players in the comings weeks.
As you probably already know, offensive lineman Cam Clark has yet to play a snap this season but hopefully that changes soon. The team’s current left guard, Alex Lewis had a decent start to the season but over the past three weeks has been a liability in both the run and passing game. Clark was a mauler at left tackle in college and should be given a chance to show what he can do over the rest of the team’s meaningless season.
With outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins likely to walk in free agency, the right thing to do there would be more reps for undrafted rookie Bryce Huff, who did play 70% of the team’s snaps two weeks ago, but just 31% on Monday night.
Not playing the rookies earlier in the season was an easy thing to do with so many of them on the shelf, but now it’s time to get them on the field and acclimated to the pro game where some strong performances can give a suffering fan base something to feel good during a season in which that felt impossible just a few weeks ago.