On April 29th, the New York Jets entered the NFL needing to set themselves up for success in the short term and long term. After hiring Robert Saleh as their head coach, and trading their quarterback Sam Darnold, Joe Douglas set up himself for his most critical draft yet as a general manager. With the selection of quarterback Zach Wilson, trading up, and their commitment toward building around Wilson, this draft class is going to define Douglas' tenure with the Jets. With that being said, here's my opinion about their draft class.
1. Drafting Zach Wilson
Three years after, drafting Sam Darnold to be their franchise quarterback, the Jets are once again hitting the reset button on the quarterback position. Personally, I would've liked to see them keep Darnold and trade down to draft another skill position, such as Kyle Pitts. While Zach Wilson had an amazing season at BYU throwing for 33 touchdowns and only three picks, it was in a season affected by COVID-19 and he played against an easy schedule. However, Douglas still deserves to be trusted by fans since he has been a part of two organizations that have won Super Bowls in the Ravens and Eagles. He was very intrigued by Wilson throughout the offseason and was all in on drafting him following his pro day. Wilson is a talented quarterback who should succeed in the NFL, but in order to make that happen, the Jets must surround him in an environment with the right players and coaches. Something they can't do again after Darnold's tenure.
2. Trading Up
Although the Jets already had an extra first pick, Douglas wanted to move up. He traded the 23rd pick along with both third round picks to the Vikings for the 14th spot, which was used on offensive guard Alijah Vera-Tucker. Trading up to get an offensive lineman who plays on the interior is a risky move despite the fact that this position was their biggest need on the line entering the draft. On the other hand, Jets fans can get used to seeing Vera-Tucker playing on the left side next to last year's standout rookie and pancake machine Mekhi Becton. In addition, Vera-Tucker's ability to thrive in a zone blocking scheme, will be essential for their run game, which is based off the 49ers' system. It has been awhile since the Jets had stability at the offensive line, but Becton and Vera-Tucker can hopefully be cornerstones of that unit in the future.
3. More Skill Positions
In the following rounds, the Jets arguably already gave Zach Wilson more weapons than they did during Darnold's entire tenure. With their second round pick, they selected wide receiver Elijha Moore. Even though cornerback was one of their needs, Moore is a skilled receiver who was expected to go into the first round. He could be a huge steal for the Jets in the years to come. Moore is also from Ole Miss, which has produced two other talented receivers in DK Metcalf and AJ Brown. As for Wilson, this selection gives him a promising receiving core of Moore, last year's rookie Denzil Mims, and free agent acquisition Corey Davis.
The Jets continued to add weapons for Wilson with the selection of running back Michael Carter in the fourth round. Despite sharing touches with Javonte Williams at UNC, Carter had a very productive college career, and could work his way up the team's depth chart at running back. It's very common nowadays for a team to improve their running game through finding a running back later in the draft, and the Jets could be one of those teams if Carter establishes himself as an every down back. He must also establish himself as the better "Michael Carter" since the Jets drafted a cornerback who happens to have the same name.
This draft by the Jets had many positives. They hopefully selected their franchise quarterback who Douglas really trusts, and have committed themselves toward building around Zach Wilson. My original hopes were for them to keep Darnold while trading down, and select a cornerback in the second or third round rather than the fifth round. However, Douglas has experience with Super Bowl winning teams, most notably with the Ravens whose front office is one of the best in football. Therefore he probably knows what he's doing and hopefully, this draft will finally change the team's fortunes.
On Thursday, the New York Jets announced Robert Saleh as their new head coach. Saleh was the defensive coordinator of the San Fransisco 49ers since 2017, where he inherited a defense that was historically bad, and turned it into one of the top units. His energy on the sidelines during games is noticeable and is something that the Jets need. Fans will be counting on him to turn the team around following one of the worst seasons in their history.
Jets fans have a lot to look forward to with the hiring of Robert Saleh. To begin with, he's a fresh start following the tenure of previous head coach Adam Gase, who set the franchise back during his last two seasons. On game days, he brings much-needed energy and passion to the sidelines, which has been demonstrated on numerous occasions when the 49ers would come up with a big stop. His motivational and player-friendly demeanor, was well appreciated by players on the defense such as Sherman and Warner. So far, he has already reached out to every Jets players and they seem to like him despite not having played a game under him yet. Even with his motivational tactics, Saleh also has a technical approach on Sundays. With the hiring of fellow offensive coordinator Mike LeFleur, the offense will likely be run-oriented with lots of receivers in motion and play action passes.
Robert Saleh is a protege of one of the league's top coaches, Pete Carroll. During Saleh's tenure with the 49ers, his first two years weren't the easiest and there were calls for him to be fired. In 2019 however, the defense was one of the best units. Running a cover three defense, he finally had the group of pass rushers to really make his system work in Nick Bosa, DeForest Buckner, Erik Armstead, and Dee Ford. Fred Warner served as the perfect linebacker for that scheme, and Richard Sherman who he was with in Seattle, anchored the secondary. They were a big reason why San Fransisco made the number one seed and breezed through the playoffs en route to a Super Bowl. While they didn't win, it was still a successful turnaround for the defense. In 2020, many of the key players suffered injuries, but the defense still remained a productive unit. Saleh's last two years proved to be more than enough for the Jets to hire him.
Overall, this is a very good hire for the Jets. Saleh really knows how to bring a winning attitude. This is illustrated through his 10 lessons of coaching:
If there's someone who can really put all of the Jets' dreadful years behind them, Robert Saleh could be the answer. His energetic and technical approach on Sundays could be a critical factor to the team. It doesn't often happen that a team makes a hire that everyone seems to love, but the Jets have made it. Now the results must come next.
While this year has been unusual in many ways, it isn't an excuse for another abysmal year of New York Sports. With basketball not starting until December, the Jets and Giants - both at the bottom of the standings - are the only option for fans to watch. Here are all the teams we'll be looking at: the Jets, Giants, Knicks, Nets Yankees, and Mets.
New York Jets - The Jets have been so bad this season that fans are just hoping for the team to tank for a higher draft pick. Head coach Adam Gase is at the center of this storm, not only for how terribly the team is playing, but for Sam Darnold's regression. In addition, Gase's lack of adjustments during halftime and failure to take responsibility after losses hasn't sat well with players. The team is currently in line to select Clemson's phenom quarterback Trevor Lawrence, but they have many more improvements to make, starting with a new coaching staff.
New York Giants - Despite Head Coach Joe Judge making a solid impression, it hasn't translated to wins, as the Giants are in the midst of another rough year at 2-7. Their franchise cornerstone Saquon Barkley is out for the season with a torn ACL, which hasn't helped Daniel Jones in what has been a disappointing sophomore season. General Manager Dave Gettleman will likely get axed at the end of the year, leading the Giants to find a new GM to pair with their rookie coach.
New York Knicks - This upcoming season will likely be another rebuilding year, as the Knicks are still far away from contention. They do have some bright spots such as R.J. Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, who are both building blocks for this franchise. To become a playoff team, they must trade for a proven leader such as Chris Paul to really give some of their young players a boost of confidence. However, their owner James Dolan, who's responsible for the team's dysfunction over the years, has most recently been blamed for his refusal to condemn systematic racism which could make players reluctant to join.
Brooklyn Nets - This team and its fans have many reasons to be excited for next season. With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving poised to share the court for the first time following injuries, hopes for a possible championship are high. They also have a new coach in Hall of Fame point guard (and Durant's friend) Steve Nash, who knows a thing or two about winning dating back to his playing career. Brooklyn's only issues, are Durant's sensitivity and Irving's occasional criticism towards teammates, which could lead to a tumultuous season.
New York Yankees - As of now, there is still a sour taste of disappointment stemming from the team's loss against the Rays in the divisional series. In what was another season filled with injuries, they weren't able to adapt this time compared to last year, leading to a roller coaster season. There's no question that it would've helped if the team adjusted better to baseball's new environment this season, like other teams with high expectations such as the Dodgers. Fortunately with the strong possibility of MVP candidate DJ Lemahieu resigning, they will likely have a chance to run it back next season.
New York Mets - For the Mets, this season was very disappointing. With optimism heading into the season, they never came close to sniffing the playoffs. They do have talented players such as Jacob DeGrom, Pete Alonso, and a couple of impressive rookies in David Peterson and Andres Gimenez, who could have important future roles. Their biggest and most recent change is Steve Cohen's purchase of the team, which may be the fresh start this team needs.
Although there are some reasons for fans to be positive, most New York sports teams still have ways to go before a championship is on the horizon. When the Yankees, who are the city's best team, exit early in the playoffs, that just doesn't add up to a good year. Whether these teams are losing because of their ownership, coaching, or players, disappointment is the perfect term to sum up New York sports.
The New York Jets have been abysmal in their first two games. They look unprepared, make no adjustments, and should be embarrassed at this point. At the center of this atrocity, is head coach Adam Gase. Dubbed a "brilliant offensive mind", he hasn't lived up to that title and should be fired at some point between now or the end of the season.
1. Development of Sam Darnold
Gase was hired in the 2019 offseason to groom Sam Darnold into a franchise quarterback. It was an odd move at the time given his back to back non-playoff seasons with the Miami Dolphins. But after he was recommended by Peyton Manning and approved by Sam Darnold, there was hope that this was the coaching change the Jets needed. The team also added pieces around Darnold such as Le'Veon Bell, and there was lots of optimism for next season. Instead, Darnold got mono, which affected him in the first game and sidelined him for the next three games. The Jets got off to an 0-4 start, which had some people calling for Gase to be fired. But with a healthy Darnold, he showed promise, going 6-2 in the second half of the season while throwing for 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. There was still room for Darnold to improve, but Gase hasn't been using Darnold to his strengths. He never has him throw to reliable targets or roll outside of the pocket which is something that Darnold is good at. For us to see how Darnold really is, Gase has to go.
2. Doing things his way
In addition, Gase only tries to win games his way. He's never willing to make adjustments on offense even if his game plan is failing. He also doesn't like to use his weapons. Bell came to the Jets as one of the league's best all-purpose running backs, but Gase always does basic and predictable run plays with Bell. He's also a good receiver out of the backfield, but Gase never has Darnold throw to him. When Bell does get targets, the Jets offense is clearly better, but that's very rare. Other notable weapons for Darnold are tight ends Chris Herndon IV and Ryan Griffin. Both players have established chemistry with Darnold during his first two seasons and there was optimism that Gase would call the offensive plays with both of them on the field. They've instead had limited action with both of them not even combining for 10 receptions yet. The worst thing is that Gase has boasted about these players during training camp.
3. Lack of preparation
There have only been two games of the regular season so far, but there are times where Jets haven't looked prepared before games. Even though last year was promising, their lack of preparation was sometimes apparent dating back to last season when they gave the Dolphins and Bengals their first wins. This year, their unpreparedness is evident. In their opening game against the Buffalo Bills, the offense's first five possessions went nowhere, which included three straight 3 and outs along with an interception. Against the San Fransisco 49ers, they let Raheem Mostert score a touchdown on the opening play. At halftime in both games, they were down 21-3: not a good trend. Gase's own players are starting to note the team's lack of preparation in practices.
4. No accountability
After games in press conferences, Gase never holds himself accountable. He never regrets his horrible play calling, which has usually featured a bunch of dive plays on the ground and screen passes to backup wide receivers in the air. During halftime of the 49ers game, he blamed the entire first half on the defense. They didn't play a good first half without question, but Gase also should've held his play calling accountable as well. His press conferences were no different, stating "That s--t is no fun getting your ass beat." Shortly after he said, "If we execute the play called we'll be fine." That is simply not a good recipe for winning. Head coaches have to take responsibility just like the players, and Gase hasn't done that nor is there a reason to believe he will hold himself accountable at some point.
Last year, Gase showed a little promise going 6-2 in the second half of the season despite injuries to players such as C.J. Mosley and Darnold. This year's team has also been plagued with injuries as well as the departure of their best player Jamal Adams, but there are still no excuses. The 49ers didn't have any of their core players either, but they didn't use that as an excuse last Sunday. Gase on the other hand calls a soft game plan every week and then doesn't hold himself accountable. That's not a way to win games and for that, Gase has to go.
As a Jets fan, it's hard to see another likable player leave. I was disappointed in Jamal Adams for wanting out just so he could get paid, despite two years remaining on his contract. However, I can't pretend that the Jets front office doesn't deserve some blame for not communicating with him. During his time in green and white, Adams gave the Jets an impressive three seasons, and general manager Joe Douglas wanted to keep him as a long term piece. That was until the Seattle Seahawks gave them an offer that was too good to pass up. Let's go over what each team is getting.
From day one, it was clear Adams was going to be a star. After a strong rookie season, Adams broke out in his second year recording 115 tackles, one pick, and three forced fumbles. He was awarded a pro bowl selection, where he won defensive MVP, and second team all pro. Last season was his best, as he recorded 75 tackles, two touchdowns, and an amazing 6.5 sacks. He was a big reason why the Jets went 6-2 in the second half of the season, which granted him another pro bowl selection and a first team all pro nod. He went into the offseason confident he'd get a contract extension, but when that wasn't gonna happen immediately, he started to criticize the front office for lying to him. Eventually he wanted out in June, but the Jets wanted to keep him unless they received a big offer. That came from the Seahawks, who offered them two first round picks in 2021 and 2022, a third round pick in 2021, and a fourth round pick in 2022. Safety Bradley McDougald was also included in the trade. While the Jets did give up their best player, this trade gives them the chance to fill in other position needs.
As for the Seahawks, they have been one of the best teams since drafting Russell Wilson, and trading for Adams gives them a chance to make another Super Bowl run. Adams could be the missing piece to a secondary that's slowly re-emerging as one of the Seahawk's best units. In addition, he can also help their pass rush production, as the closest player on the Seahawks behind his 6.5 sacks is Quinton Jefferson with 3.5. Seattle also invested a lot for guy who doesn't play a valuable position, so they must have a plan to give him a long term extension, especially with a possible salary cap drop looming in 2021.
Personally, I think that the Seahawks are in a good position to win now, but they are under pressure to make a deep playoff run having given up a lot for Adams. For the Jets to get two first round picks and Bradley McDougald, for a guy who doesn't play a valued position, is a win for the Jets. There have been three other recent trades involving two first round picks for a player. Those guys were edge rusher Khalil Mack to the Bears, offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil to the Texans, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey to the Rams, all guys that play important positions. It is true that even with a possible change in the salary cap, the Seahawks will still be able to sign Adams. But as I mentioned before, the Jets will be able to use their draft picks to fill in position needs. The picks will probably be late in the first round, but lots of good players in today's game such as MVP Lamar Jackson, have been selected late in the first round. For Joe Douglas to prove himself to this franchise, it will be by making the right drafting decisions with those picks, which previous general managers haven't done well in the past.
This was definitely late timing for a trade to happen. Whether it was to get paid or not, Adams definitely tried to force Douglas to extend or trade him. While Douglas traded him, he did it on his own terms, which isn't easy for a general manager who is not even through his first full offseason. Both teams invested a lot, and while it's not the kind of trade you typically see for a strong safety, time will tell who won.
Events of the past several weeks have shown that there is profound social unrest in our country. Over centuries, African Americans have been discriminated against in many different ways, recently escalating with incidents of police brutality and violence. At least three African Americans - Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd - were killed by either the police or white civilians earlier this year. Thousands of protests are happening all over America as a way of responding to the injustice. As a result, many athletes have been using their social platform to create change, take a stand, and call for action.
Notable athletes have been vocal for change, using their platform to speak out. One of those players has been none other than LeBron James. He has made many social media posts expressing the difficulties of being an African American, letting people know the reasons for his activism, and stating that white people always command African Americans what to do. He made an emotional video with the sound of a basketball hitting the floor and as the ball hit the floor, a new white command would pop up. The captions went from "Shut up and dribble", which Fox News anchor Laura Ingraham told him back in 2018, to "Shut up and lay still." James concluded the video saying, "This is why we can't just stick to sports. Do you understand now?" Colin Kaepernick has probably earned the most praise from other athletes and coaches since he kneeled for the national anthem during the 2016 NFL season. His purpose was to draw attention to all of the racism and police brutality against African-Americans. He's now became a symbol of resistance to the unfair treatment of African Americans. Recently, he created a legal defense initiative called Know Your Rights Camp "for victims of excessive force by police terrorism and civil rights violations."
NFL and MLB players have created group videos for their own respective leagues condemning racism. The NFL video featured Patrick Mahomes, Michael Thomas, Deshaun Watson, and others. All of the players pushed the NFL to make a statement condemning racism, saying "What will it take? For one of us to be brutally murdered by the police?" They named numerous African Americans who were killed, that could've been them. The video concludes with all of them stating, "On behalf of the National Football League this is what we, the players would like to hear you state: We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people. We the National Football League admit wrong in silencing our players from peacefully protesting. We the National Football League believe Black Lives Matter." www.instagram.com/p/CBN8b4Kn4S0/
As for baseball, Giancarlo Stanton tweeted a video which included him and other players such as Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts. They used #Players4BLM while vowing to make their voices louder toward creating change. Their message was, "We've been told that our peaceful pleas were not made at the right time, at the right place, in the right way. We've been told to 'wait.' But we remember when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned us that the word 'wait' has almost always meant never. We will wait no longer. We will make our voices louder for all of us who can and for all of those who could not." www.instagram.com/p/CBeefY6lNeu/
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson was a longtime friend of George Floyd. After hearing the news of his death, he flew to Minneapolis, where he's spoken at rallies about Floyd's story to bring attention to the police brutality that still occurs. Soon, he became an unforeseen spokesman for the family and the Black Lives Matter movement which has gained momentum around the world. He also gave a passionate speech on May 29 during a news conference at Minneapolis City Hall. At Floyd's funeral in Houston, he sat next to Floyd's daughter Gianna and later held her up on her shoulders at a rally. Jackson not only promises to take care of Gianna, but to bring justice for the family. His work earned lots of praise from many players, commissioner Adam Silver, former teammates, and coaches.
Despite the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement, there is still controversy over some methods of protesting. Drew Brees said in an interview that he will never agree with anyone who kneels during the National Anthem. Many people such as James and even Brees's teammates spoke out against Brees. Even though Brees is well-liked within the football community, his comments show the lack of understanding he and many other Americans still have about racism. The responses from many fans and players who were upset by his comments shows the increase in their support toward protests against discrimination. Shortly after the interview, Brees issued an apology pledging to be an ally for the African-American community in fighting for racial equality and social justice.
This is the first time that athletes of all sports are using their social platform to create change. LeBron James recently created an initiative called More Than a Vote with the goal of standing up against racist voter suppression by educating, energizing, and protecting communities. Other athletes and entertainers have teamed up together to reach out to communities. Within one month, the organization has already identified major cities in key states in hopes of having an impact.
During this month, NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace spoke out against the Confederate flag, saying it was a symbol of hate, not heritage. He successfully used his platform as the the only full-time African American driver at the top level to call for Confederate flags to be banned at NASCAR events. His viewpoints have caused him to give up sponsorships, but he has always put his beliefs over money. Shortly after he took this stand, a rope was found in his garage which was thought to be a noose. After investigations, it turned out not to be a hate crime, but the support he received was encouraging. This included an emotional procession of other drivers following Wallace who was driving his car to the front of the pit road.
This is a unique time for our country. It's important that athletes contribute to society in other ways besides just playing sports. Those ways may be varied, but recently many have come together with the purpose of working toward racial equality. It's time for the rest of the world to not just approve the work that athletes are doing, but rather make our own effort to make a difference in some way.
Here are some links to organizations founded by and supported by athletes:
Joe Douglas, the general manager of the New York Jets, was hired two months after last year's draft in June. Since it was at a late time in the offseason, Douglas didn't make a lot of big moves up until this year's draft. Douglas previously helped the Baltimore Ravens win 2 Super Bowl champions as a scout, and the Philadelphia Eagles win their first as Vice President of Player Personnel, but this was the first time he was actually making selections. By filling in position needs and gaining more picks, he had a strong class. Here's what to know about the Jets did in this year's draft.
The Jets entered the draft having offensive tackle and wide receiver as their biggest position needs. With the 11th pick, Douglas used his first draft pick on the 6' 7", 364 pound, mammoth tackle, Mekhi Becton. He did get into trouble by failing his drug test, but has stated that he's learned from it. On the field however, he's trouble for his opponents since he's a pancake machine. In addition, he recorded an impressive 5.10 seconds in the 40 yard dash at the scouting Combine. With these attributes, Sam Darnold has someone to protect his blindside for the future. In the next round, they filled in their need for receiver with the selection of Denzel Mims. It looked like the Jets were going to take him at no. 48, but then they traded down with the Seattle Seahawks for the 59th pick in the second and 101st pick in the fourth. Despite waiting 11 spots, Mims still fell into their lap when they were on the clock. He has the ability to stretch the field and make contested catches, two of Robby Anderson's best abilities when he was with the team. Letting Anderson walk was a questionable decision, but if Mims surpasses Anderson as Darnold's new reliable receiver, it could make up for that decision.
In this draft Douglas wasn't afraid to select players who's draft stock might've fell because of injuries. He used the pick he acquired from trading defensive lineman Leonard Williams to select safety Ashtyn Davis in the third round. Although he went through surgical procedure after injuring his groin in November, he was an athletic player who could also return kicks. Eleven picks later they picked edge rusher Jabari Zuniga. While he did deal with ankle injuries toward the end of his tenure at Florida, he recorded 18.5 sacks and 34.5 tackles for loss when healthy. In the fifth round, Douglas selected Bryce Hall. He's one of the draft's most intriguing players because he was emerging as one of the top cornerback prospects before a dislocated ankle caused his status to fall. If he can recover from the injury, the Jets will have a huge steal.
When Joe Douglas was hired, the Jets only had seven picks. By the time the draft concluded, he had turned those seven picks into 13 players. Toward the end of last offseason up to the trade deadline, Douglas traded conditional draft picks for contributors such as Demaryius Thomas, Alex Lewis, and Nate Hairston. When he traded Williams to the New York Giants at the deadline, he received a third round pick for this year's draft and a fifth in 2021. In the draft, he traded down with the Seattle Seahawks in the second round to get the 58th pick, which became Mims, and a fourth round pick. He traded that fourth round pick to the New England Patriots for two fourth round picks later in the round and got back the sixth round pick that they traded to get Thomas. With little money spent in free agency, this year's draft will be essential for how this roster performs.
Having gone through three general managers in their nine year playoff drought, the Jets are hoping that Douglas can finally be the answer to their problems. His desire to fill in the roster's flaws through the draft over free agency is evident. If this draft can not only meet expectations, but overachieve, it could be a turning point for the franchise.
This offseason, the Jets did a lot of work towards their quest back to glory. They fired head coach Todd Bowles and replaced him with Adam Gase. Another notable coaching hire came in Gregg Williams who has had a successful career at defensive coordinator. Before free agency even started, they traded for past pro bowl guard Kelechi Osemele. Once free agency did start, they signed wide receiver Jamaison Crowder and another pro bowler in linebacker C.J. Mosley. But the big move came days later when they signed all-pro running back Le'Veon Bell. Bell will provide a major boost in the running game and the passing game next season. In the draft, they selected defensive tackle Quinnen Williams out of Alabama. He has the potential to become a standout at his position. With all these moves, it looked like their offseason was complete. Then they pulled off one more surprising move the next month.
General manager Mike Maccagnan was fired which created a major shock around the league, given all of the offseason moves the he made. Most people assumed that it was from a power struggle between him and Gase in which Gase won. Adding to the confusion of Jets fans, there were rumors of Gase possibly trading Bell since he didn't want him for $52 million. Fortunately, the Bell rumors quickly died down and rather than keep Gase as interim G.M., they secured Joe Douglas. Douglas entered the N.F.L. as a scout for the Baltimore Ravens who won 2 Super Bowls while he was there. Two years later, he worked as an executive for the Philadelphia Eagles, where he played a major role in building their Super Bowl winning team. He originally said no to the Jets initial offer, but they doubled the offer and Douglas accepted. Most other Jets teams of the past might've let this situation get worse over time, but this team immediately fixed the situation. A sign of growth.
One of the most important tasks for the Jets is to develop Sam Darnold. History is on Darnold's side as quarterbacks like Peyton Manning, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Mitchell Trubisky made big improvements in their sophomore seasons while leading their team to the playoffs. Jets fans also have reasons to be excited about Darnold's future based on his play towards the end of last season in which he led the NFL in total QBR over the final 4 games. There have been nothing, but great reports about Darnold's progression. If he could live up to these reports for the regular season, he could be the answer New York has been looking for at quarterback since Joe Namath.
As for the entire team, it's very possible that they can win their division. Last year, the Chicago Bears and Houston Texans went from worst to first in their divisions. Two years earlier the Philadelphia Eagles not only went from worst to first in their division, but also won the Super Bowl. In all, but one year (2014) of this decade, at leas1 one team has made the playoffs after finishing last the previous year.
]Throughout the years, Jets fans are now used to watching the New England Patriots win playoff games. But now, they have a reason for hope this year. The team has made lots of changes from players, to coaches, to executives. Now there are lots of positive vibes surrounding the organization. These last 8 years have been really tough for Jets fans, but all of that could end this season.
It's that time of year everyone! Training camp! In what has been a long off-season, with lots of moves, we have taken a big step towards our journey back to football. So with that being said, lets go over four intriguing teams to watch.
1. San Francisco 49ers
Last year, we were strongly anticipating quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo's impact from 2017 to carry over to a playoff appearance last season. Unfortunately, he went down with an ACL tear in week 3 which ended his season as well as the 49ers season. Despite this, it didn't stop others from contributing to the team. Tight end George Kittle had arguably the best season for a tight end in NFL history. He caught 88 passes for 1,377 yards which is a record for all tight ends, and 5 touchdowns. Three of them were 43 yards or longer. On defense, DeForest Buckner also turned in a successful season with 12 sacks which was good enough for a pro bowl appearance. Coach Kyle Shanahan was able to make the most out of Garoppolo’s injury by turning undrafted quarterback Nick Mullins into a quality passer. As a team, the 49ers entered this year’s offseason as a favorite to get Antonio Brown while Odell Beckham Jr. and Le’Veon Bell were dark horses. However, they whiffed on all 3 of those players. They did refurbish their front 7 on defense with the acquisitions of Kwon Alexander and Dee Ford along with the selection of Nick Bosa. All of those players will have something to prove for this upcoming season. Alexander has to become a better tackler unlike his years in Tampa Bay. He is a play maker who has a knack for takeaways, but last year he missed 78 tackles in only 6 games! If he's going to live up to his big contract, he has to improve that flaw. Dee Ford had a quiet start to his career. but made a big jump last season recording 13.5 sacks. Like Alexander, Ford was given a big contract from the 49ers once he was traded so his ability to follow up his breakout year will be tested in the Bay Area. Nick Bosa will be tasked with not only making a full recovery after sitting out his final season at Ohio St., but he also has to adapt to the NFL immediately given the value pass rushers have in today's game. If all of those new players along with Buckner are able to play together, San Francisco will have a dominant front 7 in the years to come. But if they want to return to the players, their season will hinge on the player starting at the most important position in all sports. Garoppolo. His health will determine 2019 for the 49ers, so as long as he stays healthy, they can make a run in the playoffs.
2. New York Jets
New York did a lot of work this off-season from the moment their season ended. They fired head coach Todd Bowles and hired Adam Gase to take over the sidelines. The hire of a drill Sargent in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is considered the best assistant coach hire of the off-season. As for players, they acquired pro bowl guard Kelechi Osemele in a trade with the Oakland Raiders and signed linebacker C.J. Mosley who is already building up an impressive resume in his 5 seasons that could get him to Canton if he keeps up his accolades. They were also able to draft defensive tackle Quinnen Williams who has the attributes to be the Aaron Donald of the AFC. But the biggest ,one of the off-season, was the free agent signing of all pro running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell is easily one of the top running backs in the last 5 years, but he sat out all of last season because of a contract dispute with the Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he has kept himself in shape and will likely be a major part in helping quarterback Sam Darnold take a big step forward in his sophomore season. That has become a common theme for quarterbacks to take a major step forward in their second year. Guys like Patrick Mahomes, Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Mitchell Trubisky have experienced that kind of success. Given the improvement Darnold had at the end of the season and the new weapons the Jets got on offense, a big jump should be likely. However, it would be a surprise to think that the Jets could have an entire offseason without making any negative headlines. About a month after the draft, G.M. Mike Maccagnan was fired in a shocking move. All of a sudden, what seemed like a perfect offseason was going to be a disaster with Adam Gase possibly flexing his powers as the interim G.M. in a bad way. Fortunately, the Jets instead went after one of the leagues top executives on the market in Joe Douglas. Douglas played a big part in forming the Eagles’ Super Bowl roster and when he turned it down, the Jets doubled up their offer which was enough to lure him to the Big Apple. And just like that, all of the concerns within the front office can now be washed away for the rest of the offseason and hopefully beyond that. Now the only question, is if all of the new guys on the team from the players to the front office can jell together with last year’s core players like Darnold, receivers Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa, tight end Chris Herndon IV, pro bowl safety Jamal Adams, and defensive lineman Leonard Williams. If they can, Jets fans will finally be able to see a year of playoff football. Something that they’d like to be in after missing it for 8 straight seasons.
3. Cleveland Browns
I didn’t rank this team higher because they have all the reasons to dominate 2019. On offense they got quarterback Baker Mayfield who delivered one of the best rookie seasons for a quarterback in NFL history and looks like the answer to the Browns long hunt for a quarterback. His weapons included pro bowl receiver Jarvis Landry, and running back Nick Chubb. On the defensive side of the ball, they got pro bowlers in defensive end Myles Garrett, linebacker Joe Schobert, and cornerback Denzel Ward. Coach Freddie Kitchens showed a lot of promise when he took over offensive coordinator duties last season and could possibly form a long lasting QB/coach duo with Mayfield. What was the G.M. John Dorsey able to do? Sign star running back Kareem Hunt off waivers and trade for Odell Backham Jr. from the New York Giants. Once Hunt returns from his 8 game suspension, he and Nick Chubb will have a great chance of forming one of the best running back duos in the league. Odell gives Mayfield a big target as well as a one two punch with him and Landry. In the draft, they might’ve got a big steal with the selection of cornerback “Greddy” Williams which gives Cleveland a strong possibility of having 2 lockdown cornerbacks. However, there is one word that stands in the way of all of the hype. Egos. Cleveland has a lot of big personalities that are contained by most of their top players. Mayfield probably is the most outspoken quarterbacks in the league and veterans of the team expressed their disapproval in his cockiness. Backham Jr. is one of the most outspoken receivers in the league. Temper tantrums were no rare thing in New York and in Cleveland, lots of people will be closely analyzing that next season. Hunt was only picked up from the Browns because Dorsey drafted him when he was in Kansas City and he’ll have to prove that he has rebounded from his horrific incident in February last year where he hit a woman in a hotel room which landed him a spot on the exempt list before being released by the Chiefs once TMZ released a video in late November. Egos can also be created when there’s lots of hype surrounding a team which will give Cleveland one simple task. Downplay the hype, put egos to rest, and just play football. As long as they follow that simple formula, lots of playoff games will come very soon.
4. Houston Texans
Last year, we finally saw the damage that this team was able to do with a healthy roster. After starting 0-3, they reeled off 9 straight wins en route to finishing the season atop their division with an 11-5 record. The offense which featured arguably the best QB WR duo of Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins is the best in the league along with young receivers Will Fuller IV, Keke Coutee, and running back Lamar Miller, gave Houston a potent unit. On defense, end J.J. Watt returned to his old form after missing the last two years with injuries by recording 16 sacks while Jadaveon Clowney served as the perfect pass rusher to compliment Watt. In the secondary, pro bowl safety Tyrann Mathieu, Kareem Jackson, Justin Reid, and Johnathan Joseph produced a solid secondary. This helped Houston have a defense that was solid throughout the season. Overall, their offense and defense made them arguably the league’s most balanced teams. But it all came crashing down when they got outplayed and out coached in their wild card defeat to the rival Indianapolis Colts. Their offseason was average. For the pros, they gave out smart contracts to veteran starters Tashaun Gipson and Bradley Roby who should contribute to the secondary. For the cons, they let Mathieu walk in free agency in which he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs, they didn’t make much adjustments to their offensive line, and they’re in a really sticky situation with negotiating a new deal for Clowney. What will also be interesting, is if Houston will still possess the ability to win in close games. Last season, they’re young core showed the ability to win close games down the stretch. This will either continue this year or set the Texans up for even greater success in the future. But there’s also wear and tear that comes along in close games in victory or defeat and given the injury prone roster that Houston has even though it didn’t affect them this year, it could take its toll. Chances are that this team will still remain a playoff team that can definitely achieve greater heights within a few years, but they have more question marks going into the season than any other team that made last year’s playoffs which is why I included them on this list.
Every year, there are those teams that enter the season with lots of question marks. Sometimes those question marks could be about how good, bad, or average they’re going to be. That’s what leads to an interesting team to keep an eye on.
Yesterday was a day that will be one of the most confusing days in not just New York Jets history, but in NFL history. General manager Mike Maccagnan was fired. But you are probably wondering why it shows a lot of dysfunction and disagreement. Let's explain.
If you're going to fire a general manager, you have to do it when the season ends. The Jets thought differently. They decided to go in a backwards direction because that's what they seem to do all the time. It started with the firing of Todd Bowles where owner Christopher Johnson trusted Maccagnan to find a coach in Adam Gase, sign top free agents, and draft players. And yet 3 weeks after the draft, they fired Maccagnan. To make matters worse, Adam Gase has had a different perspective on some of Maccagnan's offseason moves.
Let's take it from the beginning.
The Jets offseason started off strong. They traded for all pro guard Kelechi Osemele and signed pro bowl linebackers C.J. Mosley and Anthony Barr. The only problem, was that on the next day, Barr decided to go resign with the Vikings. It was looked at as a soft move by most fans, but what wasn't noticed, was the fact that Gase and Maccagnan had lost trust in each other. Nonetheless, Maccagnan made up for the loss of Barr by signing all pro running back Le'Veon Bell. It was considered a steal for New York considering that they only have to pay Bell 52 million. But another problem rose from the organization, Gase didn't want Bell at that price. He already knows how good a player Bell is dating back to his 167 yards and 2 touchdowns against Gase's Dolphins in the 2016 playoffs. $52 million isn't a lot either for not only one of the best running backs, but for one of the best players in the league. It was probably the 35 million guaranteed money that Gase didn't like in his contract. So while all these feelings remained, the Jets' offseason was already viewed as a success. The draft also got good results. With Quinnen Williams, some think that the Jets picked the best defensive player in the draft.
Then rumors about a possible rift came out.
It happened two days after the first round of the draft. The reports talked about the rift starting due to disagreements over their free agency strategy. This was actually a surprising reason considering that the biggest controversial move in their offseason at the time was not trading down to get more picks in the draft. Fortunately, both Gase and Maccagnan both said that there wasn't any rift between them and that there's no reason to think that there was a rift considering how successful their offseason was. Everyone believed them and just like that, everything was fine. Right? Well you're wrong.
On May 15, the Jets fired him in what was a shocking move. Maccagnan was always in the hot seat, but if the Jets were to fire him, it should've been after the season along with Todd Bowles. But no. They decided to fire him after doing all of the offseason responsibilities. Now Adam Gase is the interim GM even though there's a strong possibility that they'll hire Joe Douglas who's a part of one of football's most respected front offices in the Philadelphia Eagles. As the Jets currently stand, Gase is the general manager and key players like Bell and Leonard Williams' aren't a lock to be on this team for the long term even though I personally think they'll both remain long term.
But New York now is in a lot of dysfunction at a alarming rate that hasn't been seen in football before. Even if they have a solid season which I think will still happen, they got to replace the chaos that's going on right now.