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A Long Look at the Good, the bad and the Ugly for Jets With new Beginning on Horizon

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Your common sense as a football fan told you that it was going to happen all year, but now multiple outlets are confirming the Jets plans to cut ties with abysmal head coach Adam Gase.  In over his head from the day he arrived, Gase’s tenure with the Jets is the only one to rival that of Rich Kotite and fans will soon have their misery come to an end.

Who replaces Gase is an unknown at this point, but no matter who it is, they’re going to need some players to go to war with on Sundays.  Thre will be moves galore this offseason, but let’t take a look at Gang Green’s roster from top to bottom as it stands today to see the good, the bad and the ugly.

Quarberback: Bad

After Gase admittedly failed in his primary task of developing quarterback Sam Darnold, the position is in limbo.  There are those who feel it’s time to move on from Darnold and others who say he deserves a chance to show what he can do with a (hopefully) competent coaching staff and improved talent.  The new head coach will undoubtedly have some say in this area.

Behind Darnold there’s rookie James Morgan who hasn’t seen a snap this season and projects as a long-term backup.

Running Backs: Ugly

This group is tough to evaluate as Gase’s infatuation with dinosaur running back Frank Gore meant limited reps for Josh Adams, Ty Johnson and rookie La’Mical Perine.  Gore predictably banged his way to his paltry 3.5 yards per attempt while every other back on the roster posted a better yards per carry average.  The small sample size still leaves us with questions though.  Gore was washed up by week 8…of 2019.

If Adams and/or Johnson continue to produce the way they did this season then the group will be in much better shape moving forward.  Perine is viewed as the most likely back to make the roster in 2021, but looked to be a less impactful player than both Johnson and Adams.

Wide Receiver: Good

No eye-popping numbers here and there’s a big “if” in regards to Denzil Mims’ ability to stay healthy but with what he showed in college showed up on Sundays when he was actually a part of the game plan.  Mims, paired with Jamison Crowder should very likely give the Jets two very good pass catchers moving forward.  Another player will still have to be added through the draft or free agency, but the cupboard is not bare for a new head coach who, unlike Gase, might see the value Mims brings to the offense.  Braxton Berrios is a decent depth player and Lawrence Cager showed some promise.  And for some reason, despite high hopes for Vyncint Smith, the receiver was nailed to the bench after returning from injury along with the speedy Jeff Smith who showed some promise early on.

Tight Ends: Bad (kind of)

Based on how the tight ends were utilized this season, it’s tough to give any fair grade.  After talking up tight end Chris Herndon, the team’s best receiving tight end was converted to a blocking tight end who saw just one or two targets per week.  Herndon started to press and became a disaster as a result.  The third-year player would seemingly drop or fumble anything that came his way as he tried to make something happen with limited targets.  Instead of feeding Herndon to let him work through his issues, the Jets put him on ignore.  But recently, Herndon has been more involved and has looked more like the player he was in college and as a rookie with the Jets.  A decent head coach should be able to get Herndon back on track and playing like a difference maker moving forward.  Meanwhile, Ryan Griffin was completely ignored and Trevon Wesco was a non-factor.

Offensive Line: Good

This is nice for a change.  The team can still afford to upgrade at both guard spots and right tackle.  However, unlike year’s past, if many of this year’s starters return, it won’t be the end of the world.  Mekhi Becton is penciled in for the next decade at left tackle.  Pat Elflein has done a nice job in the run game but is a liability as a pass blocker.  This is where the team could look to add Joe Thuney or hope that Cam Clark is ready to step in next season.  Connor McGovern is fine at center and while Greg Van Roten struggled early on, he got much better as the season progressed and you could probably live with him again in 2021.  George Fant is the x-factor as he was a steady player but could be displaced if the Jets opt to select Oregon tackle Penei Sewell with the second overall pick.  All in all, they have 3 to 4 players who can be counted on to start and one (Elflein) who should be replaced and downgraded to a backup role.

Defensive Line: (Very) Good

This is where things are looking best for Gang Green.  Despite plenty of fans jumping ship on Williams after just a week or two in to his second season, he developed into one of the league’s premiere interior defensive linemen.  This, along with the shocking development of John Franklin-Myers who was dominant along the interior Williams and Foley Fatukasi.  The team should also be getting Kyle Phillips back next season after missing 2020 due to injury.  Don’t expect Henry Anderson’s bloated contract to return, but they’ll be fine without him.  Also worth noting is the dramatically improved play of Nathan Shepherd as he has seen increased reps of late.

Linebackers: Ugly

Where to begin?  Jordan Jenkins is likely to depart via free agency after having one of his worst seasons in 2020 as he played with a shoulder injury since week two.  CJ Mosley is expected to return but who knows what he’ll look like after what amounts to a two-year layoff.  Neville Hewitt is a decent role player but shouldn’t have been asked to play as often as he did for this unit.  Then there’s Tarell Basham who for some reason, never saw quite as many snaps as he should have.  If given a full-time role, we believe Basham would be a far more productive player.  Given the team’s depth along the defensive line, the addition of a pass rushing outside linebacker would go a long way in getting this unit to show dramatic improvement.

Secondary: Bad

Marcus Maye had a career year but we suspect he’ll look to bolt to a contender after so many years of losing and Brian Poole may do the same.  If they hang around, it goes a long way in getting this secondary to respectability.  As of right now, Bryce Hall is the biggest reason for optimism as he appears to have the skills to be a legitimate top-flight corner.  Bless Austin should be replaced on the other side and Ashtyn Davis didn’t show a great deal in coverage as a rookie.  The secondary must be addressed this offseason through free agency and the draft.

Special Teams: Bad

The team doesn’t have a reliable kicker on the roster and Braden Mann was a solid punter but didn’t have the gaudy average many expected after being drafted.  The punt and kick return units were nothing to write home about and Braxton Berrios took a huge step back from averaging 11.4 yards per punt return last year to just 8.6 this season.

All things told, the Jets need to improve dramatically and it all starts with the quarterback position.  So the Jets are in familiar territory as they sit in quarterback limbo, but they have key pieces in place at premium positions with Becton, Williams and Hall with Mims having the skill set to be a legitimate number one receiver.

Joe Douglas has a long way to go, but despite what they looked like on the field this season, all is not lost.

This Article Was Written By Glenn Naughton

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Glenn was Born in the Bronx, New York and has followed the Jets religiously despite being stationed in several different countries and time zones around the world. He now resides in England and has been a JetNation member since 2005. Glenn will bleed green with the rest of us through the highs and lows.