Wilson Signs - Gets to work
🌟 Good Morning.
For all the positivity that surrounded the Jets after free agency and the draft, there seem to be some early cold feet doing the rounds.
I know it’s easier to temper expectations so that you don’t end up disappointed, but I’ve seen a lot of fans backing off their early confidence and a lot of media personalities predicting another year of doom and gloom.
Personally, I don’t see any reason not to be positive at this point in the process. I’m not going to be booking my Super Bowl tickets anytime soon, but I’m ready for a good season.
✍️ Rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson has signed his contract and he’s already working with Zach Wilson to get that chemistry down. The Jets media team was quick to post a video of the two connecting in OTA’s.
🤕 A lot of the young guys are on the field at the moment, but Coach Saleh confirmed that Jeremy Ruckert is still dealing with a foot injury which is limiting him. The hope is that Ruckert can get some work in this Spring, but he’ll be a full go by the time training camp rolls around.
📢 QUOTE - CJ Mosley on Zach Wilson "It looks like he's put on some weight, He's been in the weight room. Maybe he went down to Miami and the [players who train there] got him right. I don't know if they were lifting weights like that at BYU. But that's the difference between Year 1 and Year 2. Your body starts to change, you get a little older and you figure out the dos and the don'ts. That's part of being a pro and growing up."
💲 The Jets have $111.6 million tied up on the defensive side of the ball in 2022. Most of that is being spent on CJ Mosley who has the biggest cap charge for the Jets this year at $17.5 million, although he’s closely followed by Carl Lawson at $15.3 million. JFM, Quinnen, Rankins, and Gardner are also in the top 10 highest-paid players for the upcoming season. The defense needs to show up.
It takes time to build a complete roster, but for me, the Jets are a lot closer to having the kind of team that can compete with the best, but there are still some obvious holes that are likely to be addressed over the next 12 months.
Looking at the way the team has been put together, it looks as though the Jets want to be competitive this year and then challenge next year.
So which areas do the Jets still to improve on? We may still be able to find help this year, but it’s likely going to be the 2022 off-season we put the final pieces together.
Now all of this could change if the Jets can’t sign George Fant to an extension, or decide to cut Corey Davis etc, but I’m going based on the roster as it stands today.
In my mind there are three key areas, and they all sit on the defensive side of the ball.
The Jets had one of the worst run defenses in the league last year allowing the 4th most rushing yards per game (138.3) and the most rushing touchdowns per game (1.6).
The problem here is that we did very little to improve that area of the team, you can’t fix every hole. The Jets let Foley Fatukasi stroll into Jacksonville, a player who had historically been the best run defender, he just didn’t fit the Saleh system.
Chances are we’ll have Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins starting inside unless the Jets choose to put JFM in at defensive tackle. Williams isn’t bad against the run, but Rankins is, and that stresses your linebackers.
In terms of 2022, Larry Igunjobi is still available but he was given a 38.9 rating against the run by PFF and he’s known more for the pressure he can generate (40 pressures and 8 sacks in 2021), so while he would be an improvement on Rankins, he’s probably not the answer to our run defense woes.
So let’s fast forward to the 2023 off-season and see who’s available.
Free Agency: Fletcher Cox is available, but he’ll be 33 and on the decline. His teammate Javon Hargrave is a FA but he’s horrible against the run. David Onyemata from New Orleans is a name to watch, he’s the wrong side of 30 but he offers good play against the run and finished 2021 with 32 pressures and 3 sacks. A’Shawn Robinson from LA is another good run defender and he’ll be the right side of 30.
NFL Draft: It’s never too early to start looking. Jalen Carter from Georgia is the cream of the crop and arguably better than any Bulldog that came out this year. He’ll go in the top 5 and hopefully we’re not selecting there. Bryan Bresee at Clemson is coming off a torn ACL but he’s a beast and may go around that 10-20 range. Pitt’s Calijah Kancey has all the tools to be a dominant force and finally Tyler Davis from Clemson has all the tools, if only he can stay healthy.
Maybe someone the Jets have on the roster elevates their game like Jonathan Marshall, maybe we pluck a star out of nowhere. As things stand though, defensive tackle is an area of concern.
The Jets apparently love what they have at linebacker in Quincy Williams and CJ Mosley. I’m not that confident personally based on what we saw last year.
Hopefully, both players excel next season and guys like Hamsah and Sherwood make the next step and linebacker is an area we don’t need to worry about.
But, if that doesn’t happen, I think it’s going to be a key area to address. CJ is signed through 2024, but his guarantees end this year, and he’ll need to have a pro bowl season for the Jets to pay him what he’s owed over the next two years which is $18.5 million each year.
Kwon Alexander has been in for a visit with the Jets, so signing him in 2022 is still a possibility, and Kwon was given a 67.6 PFF coverage grade and outside of the grade, he’s always been known as a decent coverage guy. In comparison, Quincy was at 47.9 and CJ at 50.2, so Kwon would be an upgrade, especially on obvious passing downs.
Free Agency: Anthony Walker from Cleveland is one of the better coverage linebackers out there and he is set to be a free agent at age 28. Azeez Al-Shaair is another guy who’s a good all-around player, not outstanding in one area but not awful in any one area either. Leighton Vander Esch will be up again, the Jets didn’t seem that interested in 2022, but maybe they will be in 2023.
NFL Draft: Noah Sewell from Oregon is seen as the #1LB at the moment, but his coverage is probably his weakest area. The same can be said for Clemson’s Trenton Simpson but I’d say he’s a better coverage guy at this point than Sewell. A lot of people like Henry To'oTo'o from Alabama, but so far I’m not from what I’ve seen. I’m biased when it comes to Texas’s DeMarvion Overshown, but the converted safety has the size/speed, and athleticism to work wonders in this system.
In 2021 the Jets’ safety position was a little bit of a carousel. We strengthened the strong safety position with the signing of Jordan Whitehead, and he’ll be a drastic improvement on what we saw last year.
But, there is still a perceived weakness in free safety at this point. LaMarcus Joyner will likely get the first crack at it, and Ashtyn Davis and converted CB Jason Pinnock are waiting in the wings, but I’m not sure our long-term answer is on the roster.
There is real hope around Jason Pinnock and Joyner has always performed well at free safety, the issue is he’s on a one-year deal and he hasn’t played the position since 2018.
So who’s out there next off-season who may put the Jets over the top?
Free Agency: Buffalo’s Jordan Poyer may be on the wrong side of 30, but he was outstanding as a coverage safety in 2021 (5 INT, 0 TD), another player in that mold is Jimmy Ward, who Saleh will know from his time in San Francisco. Green Bay’s Adrian Amos gave up 6 TD’s last year but he’s a much better player than that. If the Bengals can’t work out a long-term deal with Jessie Bates, he’ll be on the market too.
NFL Draft: Jordan Battle has been consistent for Alabama in all areas of the game and he’s a first-round talent for sure, he also excels in coverage. Brandon Joseph formerly of Northwestern and now of Notre Dame is a player to watch, he excels in all areas. And finally, Jalen Catalon is a guy who has huge potential if we can just learn to play under more control.
Bit of self-promotion here, but yesterday I wrote a piece for Jets X Factor on the defensive line and predicted who I see making the team at this very early stage. “Last year the Jets carried nine defensive linemen into Week 1 as part of their final 53-man roster. It doesn’t take a Harvard man to work out that 17 doesn’t fit into nine very easily. I could see a world where the Jets carry 10 defensive linemen this year and only five linebackers. After all, the Jets found themselves playing a lot of 4-2-5 defensive packages last season with Quincy Williams and C.J Mosley dominating the snaps at the second level.”
Sticking with X Factor - Ryan Moran had a piece on one of my favourite UDFA signings Irvin Charles, and he asks if he has the skills to make the team - “There could potentially be an opening or two for the Jets wide receiver group. The depth is a bit of a concern right now. The four locks at the top of the position are Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis, and Braxton Berrios. Denzel Mims should be the favorite for the fifth spot. If Charles shines, he could possibly compete for the sixth spot with Jeff Smith and others.”
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