With the NFL Draft in the rear view mirror, teams are now in assessment mode. They have a bevy of rookies to tend to, and the offseason program is in full swing. With virtually an entire new Jets coaching staff in place players are piling into the Atlantic Health Center to make a positive impression on their current coaches. With so many Jets players (USA Today reported more than 80 of the 90 contracted players showed up) it should help the Jets in their quest to determine where they are strongest and also where they may need help.
Most teams are at full roster capacity. Yet a team like the Jets who have a new QB (without much behind him) and a roster of mostly unproven players should not fall into a trap of complacency. Joe Douglas should not be done working this roster. If he thinks he is then shame on him because there is work to be done.
Lets take a look at some of the offensive players the Jets could, should have an interest in. Are you watching Joe?
I didn’t want to start this article off negatively, but the Jets are either negligent or star struck with their new QB. What are they thinking? Putting all your eggs in one basket that may be full of holes is risky at best. We have no idea how well Zach Wilson will adjust to New York or the NFL, and I am a Zach Wilson booster.
The Jets backup QBs are James (Captain) Morgan and Mike White. Neither has played a down in the NFL, and neither has worked in the LaFleur system. This would be a crazy way to start the season. If Wilson fails horribly what do you do? If Wilson is injured in the first game and out for the season, what do you do? You cannot start a season with so little coverage at the QB position. So who can the Jets bring in?
Last Joe Douglas sat on his hands in the offseason to the point he got Joe Flacco who brought little if anything. When Flacco was with Baltimore he famously (and honestly) said he would not help coach Lamar Jackson (not that he could) so Joe knew he wasn’t going to be a mentor to Sam Darnold. Darnold struggled, and Flacco was poor when he played so Douglas should have learned his lesson. Obviously he didn’t. He sat on his hands again this year and painted himself into a corner.
So who is left for the Jets to bring in? Well just about no one. The player I suggested months ago (Blake Bortles) has been signed. I realize Bortles is no prize, but he has a live arm with good movement skills. He also has serious starter experience, and he would have been cheap. He would have welcomed a chance to work against a rookie who may sit for a little which would give him a chance to shine. It was not to be.
There is little to work with. A few of the options are:
1) Sean Mannion who is 29 years old but started only 2 games in his career and has never thrown a TD. He is only a consideration because he worked with Sean McVay in LA and was in Minnesota around Kevin Stefanski. This means he at least has been around some decent offensive minds. He hasn’t played since 2019 so he is a long shot to be a consideration.
2) Nick Mullens played for 3 years in the same system the Jets are installing. He is not great but he has started 16 games in his career of which all were in this offensive system. He is not an ideal backup, but at this point in the offseason he is as good as it gets. He did injure his elbow against Dallas last year then had to have surgery to repair the damage. I don’t know whether he could pass a physical with the Jets.
Now this video is not to extoll the virtues of Nick Mullins as a starting QB, but it shows him working in the same system and being successful which is something no other free agent player could do right now. I think it is astounding that the Jets do not have a QB on the roster who has taken a regular season NFL snap.
Another option is to either make a trade for a backup QB which I can’t see Joe Douglas doing. The Jets could also wait for the dust to settle after training camp and find an experienced QB who was cut due to his salary or fit with the team. Some have mentioned Nick Foles as a candidate for a trade, but I doubt that would ever happen for two reasons. First the Bears would have a dead cap hit of $8 million over the next two years. Second he would be a one year player for the Jets without contract renegotiation. Foles has thought about walking away from the game in the past, and I think money is the only reason he stays. He would not take a reduced salary in 2022, and the Jets are probably not going to pay him$8 million to be a backup in 2022. (His salary would be $4 million in 2021.)
The Jets need to have an experienced backup on the team. Even if you have a supreme confidence in Zach Wilson and =are rewarded with stellar play during the year, what happens if he gets injured, even for a short period of time? Did we just draft Brett Favre? Will he play every snap in 2021? I think the Jets are shortsighted in their thinking in the QB position. I would hate to see a great start by the team turn into a total fold because of lack of depth.
The running back position with the Jets is a lot clearer than the QB position but still not without questions. I mean who is the true lead back? I don’t think the Jets know. Tevin Coleman is at the top of the depth chart for now because of his past exploits, but he only had 28 carries last year in a RB friendly system and gained an average of 1.9 yards per carry which is uninspiring.
Ty Johnson is a player I could see leading the Jets in carries in 2021. He has good size (5’ 10” 210 lbs) plus has great speed (4.40/40) and a muscular build. The Jets RB situation looks like a total committee, but Johnson can be a factor if he can learn the nuances of the system. Here he is last year.
He is more of a straight gap runner than a wide zone player, but he can learn. He has the athletic skill set to do so. He just needs the technical know how. We will see how this develops during the summer.
La’Mical Perine is a player who I don’t think fits this system at all. He is slow with no wiggle, and if Joe Douglas can recognize his mistake he will get rid of Perine in the final cuts.
Josh Adams is also a poor fit in the system but does provide some good power that may be needed in short yardage situations or as a blocker.
Michael Carter is an exciting player who would want on the field instead of a player like Perine. He has splash play ability with upside as a runner and a receiver.
A player I would sign as a augment to the RB room is Kerrith Whyte from FAU. He is a great returner with 4.36/40 speed. He had a KO return TD in 2017 and 2018. He was on the Lions roster last year where he didn’t get much playing time. He has some juice to make a difference in the season. Here he is on a kickoff. See the speed and vision.
I would at least bring him in to kick the tires. At least you could get a special teams player. White had 81 kick off returns in college averaging over 26 yards a return.
The wide receiver position on the Jets was once the weakest positions on the Jets but has been strengthened by Douglas into possibly the strongest position. There can be additions but the possibility is admittedly low.
I am pulling for the signing of a veteran WR, but it is because the roster is so young. You often need senior leadership in position rooms, but as of now there are no players with he clout or stats to back up their claims of fame.
As of now the position currently consists of:
Denzel Mims, Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, Keelan Cole, Elijah Moore, Braxton Berrios, Vyncint Smith, Josh Malone, Jeff Smith D. J. Montgomery, Manasseh Bailey, Lawrence Cager, and Matt Cole.
Crowder, Davis and Cole are probably the most seasoned of the receiver group, but even then they are not awe inspiring.
I want to take a minute to suggest a radical idea that could be a boon to the Jets and their future. Bring in a player who can help some on the field but mostly lead a fledgling group of receivers by his actions and work ethic. Find someone who is beyond reproach as a player and as a person, a player who could not only lead a young group of receivers but also a inspire a team to all be better at their positions.
The person I recommend the Jets sign is Larry Fitzgerald who would be a something the Jets don’t have on the team, a walking legend. He could be a leader on a team that lacks one and take some pressure off a Zach Wilson to be the team leader as a rookie.
I will not lie about my personal adoration for Larry Fitzgerald. He is in the top 5 of my all-time favorite players in any sport. To have him on the Jets would be a dream come true. You don’t need a highlight of Larry Fitzgerald but you are getting one anyway.
Fitzgerald is a 37 years old who keeps himself in supreme physical condition always and has great hands. He also can still make plays. The explosiveness is gone, but he understands defenses on another level than anyone on the Jets, even Joe Douglas. To have a walking legend working at the Jets facility would inspire every player to be better prepared and work at his craft just a little more.
Fitzgerald is known for his exhaustive efforts to prepare on the field, in practice, in meeting rooms, and in the locker room. There is no player (even close) like Larry Fitzgerald in the Jets system. He is a all-time great player and an even better human being. To me he is class personified. To have even a little of that rub off on the Jets players would be priceless.
I would instruct (if I owned the team) Joe Douglas to get on the phone with his agent and bring him in no matter the cost. Like I said his presence would be felt for years, and just having him with the Jets would bring a level of class to the entire organization.
The Jets have done a much better job with the offensive line in the last two years than Mike Maccagnan did in his entire tenure with the Jets, but the work is not done. If the Jets want to compete this year they will need an upgrade on the current players. The left side of the line is set with Mekhi Becton and Alijah Vera-Tucker, this doesn’t mean they are super stars (yet). The Jets will have to live with the growing pains of young players. You don’t become great overnight. You need experience, and that is what they will get. The center position is set for now as the contract of Connor McGovern is too weighty to move on from, and the hope is that in his secnd year, with a better cast of players around him he will be better. We shall see.
The right side of the line is a question mark with the guard position being a three way battle between Cameron Clark, Alex Lewis and Greg Van Roten. We don’t know how the new coaching staff views any of these players. Time will tell if they like/hate any or all of these guys. Cameron Clark could surprise and become a solid player. We don’t know. If they want another option the Jets could bring in a player like Trai Turner. Here he is #70 pulling out to lead a run vs. the Bucs.
Turner is a big, powerful man but he also has enough movement skills to make short pulls and would be useful in the Jets new system. Turner has had some injuries in the past that have slowed him down so the Jets would need to do a full physical evaluation before any contract could be signed. Even then it would be a short term deal (maybe 2 years) as the future of the right guard position for the Jets is hopefully still in college and going to be selected next year. This signing will be a question mark until Turner’s health can be determined. Until then the Jets are kind of stuck with what they have.
At the tackle position there is no denying my dislike of the deal cut by Joe Douglas bringing in George Fant to play right tackle. This was a severe overpay for a player who is poor at best. Seattle has had some of the worst offensive lines in the NFL the last few years so why would you go there to bring in a player? Fant has been utterly terrible with the Jets, and he plays only because he is the best the Jets have at the position which is sad. The Jets could immediately fix that problem by releasing him and bringing in someone better.
That player could be Morgan Moses who was released by the team in our Nation’s capital. He had two years remaining on his contract that paid him $7.5 million this year. He could be had for probably less than that if signed. Moses has made 96 consecutive starts in Washington and would be a huge upgrade on the right side. Here he is in pass protection.
Moses is only 30 years old and has been very healthy over the years especially for an offensive lineman. His has been a top 20 tackle in the NFL for years and would be a big addition for the Jets.
The Jets also have a lack of quality in the important position of swing tackle where as of now failed third round pick (thanks again, Mike) Chuma Edoga is the player to take over if there is an injury. If the Jets were to have any injuries to the tackle position it would be a disastrous development for the season as a whole. An upgrade would be needed if either tackle was injured for a long period of time.
Dennis Kelly would be an inexpensive insurance policy for the Jets at the tackle position. He started all 16 games last year for the Titans and did an admirable job but was cut this year. He has good experience. He played in over 1,000 snaps last year and is only 31 years old with a lot left in the tank. Here he is catching a TD for the Titans against the Jaguars.
I know he is not going to catch passes for the Jets, but you have to know he can block. He has been around for a while and played at a fairly high level. He would be a solid veteran signing that could be a life savior for the season if injuries occur.
The tight end position has been a position of need for not only the Jets but for most of the teams around the league. There is very little quality out in the NFL right now, but the system the Jets are bringing in is one that can utilize players with average talents and make them better.
One of the players I really liked in the 2015 NFL draft was MyCole Pruitt out of Southern Illinois. He is more of a move TE than a traditional blocking TE, but he has talent and is fast. He ran a 4.58/40 at the Combine that year which was the fastest time by far. =Here he is on a crossing route catching a TD against the Steelers.
The Jets could sign him near the veteran minimum so he won’t be expensive, and he has more upside than some of the players on the roster. It’s a cheap upgrade that could pay dividends and get a player who I wanted the Jets to pick in 2015.
I know the Jets will be doing little if anything to the roster before camp so this is probably all just wishful thinking. I do think if things go right the Jets could compete this year if and have at least a winning record. It would be nice to see the Jets playing meaningful games late in the season, and it would help the development of all their young players.
Up next the defense.
That is what I think.
What do you think?