Every NFL season has seen some huge surprises, from injuries to unexpected turnarounds. Going into last year, no one thought the Cincinnati Bengals would narrowly miss out on a Super Bowl victory or that the Seattle Seahawks wouldn't come close to the playoffs. With this season getting closer by the day, here are my three hot takes for the AFC.
Note: This article is part of a doubleheader that will also include NFC Predictions.
1. Von Miller will be the Final Piece Buffalo Needs
The Buffalo Bills have established themselves as contenders during the last two years. With plenty of talent on both sides of ball, the Bills have gone 34-15 in the last three years, winning the AFC East twice in that span. However, they have yet to reach the Super Bowl, with a heartbreaking overtime loss to the Chiefs leaving a bitter taste. In free agency, the Bills successfully agreed to a six year $120 million contract with defensive end Von Miller.
While Miller is 33 years old, he still has plenty left in the tank after logging four sacks during the playoffs, en route to his second Super Bowl championship. What made his performance last year even more impressive was that he missed all of 2020 with a torn ACL. The Bills have a talented defense, but their pass rush lacks a difference maker which proved costly in their recent playoff losses. Miller will probably not play out his entire contract in Buffalo, but his experience and productivity is exactly what the Bills need to get over the hump to finally win it all.
2. The Raiders Won't Make the Playoffs
Last year's Raiders surprisingly made the playoffs with a 10-7 record before losing a tight contest to the Bengals. They then proceeded to make big offseason moves, signing defensive end Chandler Jones and trading for all pro wide receiver Davante Adams. These moves will make the Raiders competitive again this year, but in a stacked conference, it still might not be enough.
In their four game winning streak that propelled them to the playoffs at the end of the year, they beat two teams with backup quarterbacks and another whose quarterback didn't practice that week. That's not mentioning their four overtime wins as well. Teams who won a large portion of close games usually take a step back the next year which is why I'm not sold on the Raiders despite high expectations. I think that they simply won't be as lucky this year.
3. The Jets will have Two Rookie of the Year Winners
In the 55 year existence of the Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year award, only two teams had players from both sides win the award. However, I believe there's a strong chance my Jets will become the third team to accomplish this feat. While some of this prediction has to do with my fandom, plenty of other people applauded this year's Jets' draft.
Their notable selections are cornerback Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, wide receiver Garrett Wilson, defensive end Jermaine Johnson, and running back Breece Hall. Gardner has a strong chance to win Defensive Rookie of the Year thanks to his tall, athletic frame, that allows him to excel in man coverage. He's also likely to make an immediate impact compared to many of the pass rushers selected. Offensively. Hall has a pretty good chance at winning the award. He'll have plenty of opportunities to succeed in a run-first offense and with only one quarterback taken in the first round, the award is wide open. As a franchise notorious for missing out on young talent in the draft, this kind of feat could hopefully change their reputation.
Every NFL season has seen a few players experience a breakout season shortly after their rookie year. Often, they have shown promise before eventually playing to their full potential the following season. Prime examples of last year's breakout stars include running back Jonathan Taylor and cornerback Trevon Diggs. With training camp underway, many players are ready to showcase their full potential after showing upside last season. Here are my four breakout candidates, not including quarterbacks:
1. Devonta Smith
Last season, Devonta Smith was one of the top rookie receivers for the Philadelphia Eagles, tallying over 900 yards and five touchdowns. While those numbers sound decent on paper, they are very impressive for a rookie receiver who was the only bright spot on one of the league's weakest receiving groups last season. Smith managed to turn short completions into long runs with his speed, and caught a ton of contested passes despite his small frame. With the acquisition of fellow receiver AJ Brown this offseason, Smith should see a lot more single coverage which will increase his production.
2. Patrick Surtain II
Patrick Surtain II of the Denver Broncos was certainly the most impressive defensive back to come out of last year's draft class, given that a large number of rookie cornerbacks started last season. He intercepted four passes and returned one of them for a touchdown, but that's not all. Surtain II also surrendered only 545 yards along while allowing a 61 passer rating. Some of his best games came against pass-happy offenses where he made guys like Tyreek Hill and Ja'Marr Chase non-factors. Although Micah Parsons' historic rookie season kept Surtain II from winning Defensive Rookie of the Year, he still has plenty of upside going forward.
3. Javonte Williams
Denver gets another nod on this list with running back Javonte Williams coming in at three. Although Williams was part of a running back committee with Melvin Gordon, he still managed to total 903 rushing yards and four touchdowns. He was almost impossible to bring down as 31% of Williams' rushing attempts saw him break tackles - 63 to be exact. Williams will likely be the starting running back for Denver. With Russell Wilson now in town, Williams will be in an even better position to excel, since defenses will devote less attention to him.
4. Amon-Ra St. Brown
As a fourth round pick for the Detroit Lions, Amon-Ra St. Brown went into last season with the least hype out of all the players mentioned on this list. He had a few solid games, but it wasn't until the final six weeks of the season when St. Brown began to showcase his potential. In that stretch, St. Brown had 474 yards and five touchdowns which included a game winner against the Vikings. St. Brown's increased usage makes him a heavy favorite to be Detroit's starting receiver going into this season.
5. Elijah Moore
With high upside as a second round receiver, Elijah Moore recorded over 500 yards. These stats are decent at best, but considering that Moore was either injured or barely targeted in the early portion of the season, his progress in his final six games has given Jets fans plenty of optimism. From weeks 8-13, Moore had 459 yards and five touchdowns. Even more impressive, Moore posted these numbers while playing without fellow rookie Zach Wilson who was injured for four of those games. With a bigger role and more young talent, it's very likely Moore's play will take a huge jump in year two.
Fans who generally like alternate uniforms were certainly happy when the NFL gave teams the green light to create an additional helmet, allowing teams to become creative in the process. This rule change has also prompted teams such as the Giants and Falcons to create alternate uniforms to go along with their new helmet designs. Many teams are currently having fun with this rule change and while it won't be a surprise if more teams join in, here's my ranking of all the new designs we have seen thus far.
1. Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals alternate helmets and jerseys are one of the most anticipated color rush designs this upcoming season. Cincinnati already debuted new uniforms last season but these alternates are a perfect addition. With these all-white helmets and a young core that went all the way to the Super Bowl, everything about this team is new and fresh. As one of the more fun teams last year, fans will certainly enjoy Cincinnati's color rush design when they face the Dolphins in week four.
2. Atlanta Falcons
This might be controversial for Giant fans, but I'm a big fan of the Falcons' decision to bring back their classic red helmets. Their throwback jerseys also match up very well with their helmets. Although Atlanta will only be wearing their attire for one game, it's cool combination between old school and new school.
3. New York Giants
While the Giants technically brought back their helmets from the 80s and 90s for the 2016-18 seasons, this is a lot better. Not only did they bring back their classic helmets from the Lawrence Taylor and Bill Parcells era, but they also reintroduced their old time jerseys which were worn in the same era.
4. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have always had solid uniforms with their teal jerseys standing out in particular. However, they've taken their attire to another level with these black helmet which perfectly complement their black uniforms. While their Thursday Night matchup against the Falcons is far from one of the most anticipated games, the black helmets and uniforms will be a bright spot.
5. Philadelphia Eagles
Like the Panthers, the Eagles' new dark helmets will be a great addition to their black uniforms. While fans are more excited to see their Kelly green uniforms in 2023, I look forward to seeing these helmets match up with the black uniforms.
6. Washington Commanders
Unlike most of these teams, I like how every element of the Commanders' new uniforms stick out. Their home, away, and alternate attire brings something different to the table whether it's the "W" in the center of the black helmets or the golden numbers on the away jerseys.
7. New York Jets
A white background also would've looked very good but I have no problem with the black background complementing their green logo and face mask. While watching the Jets can be challenging, they always seem to wear the right jersey combinations on game days which is why I look forward to seeing their new alternate helmets when they play the Patriots, Bears, and Jaguars at home. Hopefully they'll also win for a change.
8. Dallas Cowboys
With these new helmets, the Cowboys will pair them with their old alternate uniforms which they would wear on Thanksgiving in previous years. It isn't new, but it's one of the few things involving the Cowboys that I actually don't have a problem with.
9. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals' new helmets which consist of a black background is the cherry on top for their black color rush uniforms. While it's not good enough to be in the upper half, the matching color scheme of the helmets and uniforms keep this design in the top 10.
10. New Orleans Saints
I've always been a fan of the Saints' attire, with their white and gold jerseys (pictured above) standing out. Their new alternate helmets are solid but they would be a lot higher if they didn't have all those small fleur-de-lis forming a stripe.
11. Houston Texans
The Texans will be in for a rough go in 2022 but at least their first uniform/helmet change was a good one. They will pair their new "battle red" helmet with their alternate red uniforms. Personally, I think this is a cool combination as their red uniforms will look even better compared to the dark blue helmets.
12 New England Patriots
While many people like the Patriots' decision to bring back their throwback uniforms which were worn for three decades, I've never liked these uniforms. Some of that admittedly has to do with my Jets fandom, but the logo of the Patriot snapping a football is way too corny. The strips on the uniforms also make them look like Buffalo Bills' attire.
13. Chicago Bears
Chicago had the right idea of creating an alternate helmet to match up with one of their uniforms. The only problem is that orange isn't the right color to go about this idea. A different helmet background such as white would've looked a lot better.
14. San Fransisco 49ers
The 49ers made some minor changes to their uniforms by going back to three stripes along with a saloon font in the center. Bigger changes would make this ranking a lot higher however.
Before I start, I will state that the Jets were certainly not the only team to have a spectacular draft class. Other teams such as the Chiefs, Ravens, and Giants all deserve credit for their draft selections. And while it will be awhile until we can draw conclusions from this year's draft class, here's why I currently think the New York Jets' class is a game changer.
Whereas some teams might've filled two position needs with in the first round at best, the Jets managed to fill in three during the draft. Going into the draft, the biggest needs for the Jets were a cornerback, an edge rusher, and skill position, receiver or running back.
With the fourth pick, the Jets addressed the cornerback position by selecting Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner. In his three years playing for Cincinnati, Gardner became the best defensive back in the nation. His length and athleticism helped him excel in man coverage where he never allowed a touchdown during his collegiate career. Against Jameson Williams, the best receiver Gardner has faced so far, he only allowed one catch for negative yards, proving he can match up against the best. Jet fans have waited for someone to finally fill in the shoes of Darrelle Revis and Gardner might be that guy.
Due to a trade with the Seattle Seahawks back in 2020, the Jets also had the 10th pick which was used to select wide receiver Garrett Wilson. Wilson joins a receiver group of Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, and Braxton Berrios that was solid but ravaged by injuries. As high ranked receiver with no injury concerns, Wilson's availability is something the Jets could use given the injuries to their skill positions. In addition, Wilson is known for his contested catches during his career at Ohio State. This could be essential for the Jets as they haven't had someone with that ability since Brandon Marshall.
With a quantity of picks that the Jets previously traded for in the later rounds, they managed to move up to the 26th pick where they selected edge rusher Jermaine Johnson II. After two quiet seasons at Georgia, Johnson experienced a breakout season for Florida State recording 12 sacks and 18 tackles for loss, both in the top 10 nationally. He will also have some motivation going into the season as he surprisingly fell in the draft despite being projected to go within the top 10. For the Jets, they will have a potentially formidable duo of outside rushers in Johnson and Carl Lawson.
By selecting Wilson, and later running back Breece Hall in the second round, the Jets have drafted three skill positions, not named Zach Wilson, in the first two rounds of this year and last year's draft (Elijah Moore is the other one). Add in last year's fourth round selection of running back Michael Carter, and this year's third selection of tight end Jeremy Ruckert, and the Jets have already done more for Zach Wilson in the draft than they've ever done for Sam Darnold. This philosophy resembles the Cincinnati Bengals' strategy of surrounding Joe Burrow with homegrown players in Tee Higgins and Ja'Marr Chase. They are currently fresh off a Super Bowl appearance and have a bright future ahead of them.
Perhaps the most important thing to come out of this draft class if that the Jets are really establishing a foundation through the draft. By building the majority of their roster through the draft, the coaching staff will have the chance to develop these players into valuable contributors given the Jets' system is the only one they're familiar with in the pros. When you also consider the upside of last year's draft with players such as Alijah Vera-Tucker, Moore, Carter, and hopefully Zach Wilson, the Jets could be ahead of schedule. Something that fans would give anything to witness.
For the first time in years, the New York Jets have seemed to hit on almost all of their draft picks. With their nine picks from last year's draft, fans have a reason to feel optimistic on most of their selections. Even for a skeptical fan such as myself, this is a draft class that offers plenty of hope.
For starters, all of the Jets' draft picks played a combined 69 games this year, which is the most playing time any of their rookie classes have played since 2006. Quarterback Zach Wilson, wide reciever Elijah Moore, and offensive lineman Alijah-Vera Tucker were the only rookies to start going into the season, but more players saw an increase in their roles as the year went on. Offensively running back Michael Carter was one of the team's most skilled offensive players, tallying 945 yards from scrimmaging while possessing a knack to break multiple tackles almost every time he got the ball. twitter.com/nfl/status/1439669558797762564
On defense, cornerback Brandin Echolos became a force late in the season recording five pass deflections and two picks with one going for a pick six, while the other came off Tom Brady. He and his fellow rookie cornerback Michael Carter II combined to deflect 14 passes. Along with the progression of Bryce Hall, the Jets should have a solid cornerback trio for years to come. twitter.com/NFL/status/1472669413832683525?s=20
As for Wilson, Moore, and Vera-Tucker, they all made the most of the playing time they received from the start of the season. Wilson overcame a rocky start to finish the season on a strong not with nine total touchdowns while only throwing two picks since he returned from his week seven injury. His signature game was a 297 yard, two touchdown performance against a Titans team that finished number one in the AFC. Moore's play also improved throughout the season, as 459 of his team leading 538 yards came in his final six games, along with five receiving touchdowns. While he missed the final five games, there's lots of optimism surrounding his potential. Vera-Tucker was arguably the most consistent rookie as he was solid in pass protection while sparking a running game that was coming into its own. https://twitter.com/NFL/status/1444749314526367745?s=20
Going into last year's offseason, the only players that were considered cornerstones for Jets were their stud defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and offensive lineman Mekhi Becton. Now they have a true foundation of promising rookies, to go with Williams and linebacker C.J. Mosley, who had a nice bounce back year. By the season's end their rookies scored 15 touchdowns, which is more than any other draft class in franchise history. They also led the team in passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards, and interceptions.
There's every reason to believe that Jets will be flirting with a playoff berth next season even if they don't make it. Their draft class was a major storyline for the team going into the season and they performed at an exceptional level for the most part. It's why they beat division winners such as the Titans and Bengals, while nearly upsetting the Buccaneers. Although they only won four games, they enter the offseason with the fourth most cap space in the league along with four selections within the top 50 draft picks. If they have a solid offseason and their rookies take huge leaps in their sophomore years, Jet fans can finally sleep happily after football Sundays.
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.