With the Jets preseason now over, it is time to look at the Jets roster to find out where improvements can be made. A team must be honest with itself in dissecting their strengths and weaknesses. The Jets aren’t looking for improvement this year, they are looking for the glory of a championship. The time for baby steps is over. The Jets need to find the right 22 players who are going to put this team on their backs and make a run for greatness.
This process of self-inspection is not limited to the Jets but the entire NFL. Each team is doing their own self evaluations of their teams to find the right course for their franchise. Like the Jets of the past decade many teams aren’t looking for a way to tweak their team into championship form but looking for the next building block (draft pick or player) who could be an integral part of their building process. Even teams with huge playoff aspirations can find a mutual trading partner from other title seekers if their deficiencies match other contenders’ strengths. This may be a direction the Jets may want to take.
In looking at the Jets weaknesses the most glaring spot is the offensive line, or more accurately the offensive tackle position. This is a particularly painful burr in my saddle since I have preached the need for drafting the right offensive tackles over the last 5 years. I will reiterate my disdain for the Jets lack of urgency on this subject since I railed incessantly about it every year here on this site. I produced articles about the need to draft certain players, most notably Tristan Wirfs and Christian Darrisaw, who are All-Pro and Pro Bowl players. Since we don’t have those players the Jets continue to look for answers.
Truth of the matter is no team will give up a viable offensive tackle prospect for any price. Not going to happen since they are so hard to find. Look at the Jets pass rushers in preseason eating alive teams’ QBs and you see why a talented offensive tackle is so needed. Teams don’t have enough offensive tackle talent that they can give it away.
The preseason has only confirmed the fact that Billy Turner (better as a guard) and Max Mitchell are not NFL quality players as offensive tackles. Sure they can play, but not very well. Teams will attack them unmercifully if they do play. You can count on that. The Jets brought in a Hall of Fame QB to win a championship so let’s find a way to protect him.
Since the Jets need a player who can back up both Duane Brown and Mekhi Becton, they may need to bring in a free agent. Both Brown and Becton are long shots to play every offensive snap in 2023. The Jets should find a viable alternative. The two players who may help are Eric Fisher and Jason Peters. Neither are good options, but they are better than what the Jets currently have.
Fisher didn’t play a snap in 2022 but was on the Dolphins team when he signed late in the year. He is a former 1st overall pick who has skills and is only 32 years old without any serious injuries in his past. Peters is 41 years old, he has the ability to play either side of the line and is a probable Hall of Fame player as a nine time Pro Bowler. Recently Peters let the Jets know he wants to be part of their squad. “Give me a call, I’m gonna show out Peters said. “That’s what I do. I’m a straight professional when it comes to that. Helping the young guys — if they want me to sit, you know I’ll sit.” Peters is not the player he once was but he is still a wily veteran who knows how to get the job done. Signing a 41 year old tackle is not in the best interest of future rewards, but it serves the purpose for this year. He wouldn’t cost the Jets any draft picks and he would be fairly inexpensive.
I realize these few options are meager in terms of help but that is what happens when you don’t bring in talented players at premium positions. The offensive tackle position is the second hardest position to find upper echelon type players, just behind the QB position.
The Jets use a variety of defensive sets, but their base defense is a 4-3. They have two players (CJ Mosley and Quincey Williams) that they have confidence in. The problem is the WLB position, which has a varied role in their defense. The WLB is called that simply because he lines up on the weak side of the offense (the side opposite the tight end). He is what I call a run and hit linebacker since he is usually free to roam the field. Whereas the MLB has to fight off blocks from the guard or center or the SLB has to take on the tight end or guard the WLB has the freedom to cover in the flat or chase down plays.
The Jets have tried numerous players at that spot including Hamsah Nasirildeen (who was waived), but they don’t have a player who fits the mold. Jamien Sherwood is currently the starter at the position, but he is a former 5th round pick who is a converted safety. He’s athletic but painfully slow as he ran a 4.76/40 at his pro day. The Jets could find a trade partner from a known source.
The Baltimore Ravens have a player in Patrick Queen who they drafted #28 overall in the 2020 NFL draft. The Ravens declined the fifth-year option for Queen this offseason, leaving the former first-round pick without a contract after 2023. The Ravens use Queen as an ILB, but I view his talents as a great WLB. Queen is a little undersized to play as an ILB in the NFL. Yet he has 4.50/40 speed, and is also quick with a 1.51/ten yard split. He can get there and get there fast. It’s just what you want in a run and hit WLB. Queen is barely 6’ and under 230 lbs so he was destined to struggle on the inside against the behemoths on the O-line. He would be an asset in coverage and chasing down runners on the edge.
The Ravens drafted Malik Harrison from Ohio State also in 2020 in the 3rd round. Harrison is much better suited for inside play. He is 6’ 3 247lbs with short area quickness. He was a HS QB so he was new to the position at Ohio State. He needed time to develop his skills. The Ravens also drafted Trenton Simpson (6’ 2” 238 lbs) in 2023 as an ILB with 4.43/40 speed. He is the future of the LB corps for the Ravens. There is no room for Patrick Queen on the Ravens roster in 2024.
With the personal relationship Joe Douglas has with the Ravens the Jets could easily get something done. Instead of letting Queen walk in 2024 the Ravens could reap the rewards of a pick and a player this year. The Ravens secondary is a mess with Rock Ya-Sin (who is a waiver wire pickup) and Marlon Humphrey as starters. The Jets could trade Bryce Hall (who should not make this team) to the Ravens plus a 5th round pick or so to complete the deal. The secondary is the Ravens’ weakest position group.
I realize that Hall has been poor the last few years, but the Ravens don’t play the same defense and Hall works much better in a zone type system than a straight man defense. This is a situation that could be of benefit for both teams with each getting help where they are lacking. There is also a myriad of other trade options available, this is just one. Trades for players between teams rarely happen in the NFL, except when teams are paring down their teams to 53 players after the preseason. The Patriots trade with the Browns (Wheatley for Strong) is an example of that.
You never know how things turn out with trades but my instinct is to bring in talented players, put them in the best possible position to succeed then coach the hell out of them.
That’s what I think.
What do you think?