New York Jets 2019 Training Camp Preview

The New York Jets enter training camp in 2019 with much higher expectations after an eventful offseason that saw them bring in multiple stars and elite players to improve the roster.

A look back at 2018:
Last year’s campaign was marked by the inability to consistently put a quality product on the field on both sides of the ball. The defense was just middle of the pack in sacks/pressures/QB hits production and failed to put enough pressure on the passer reliably. However, oftentimes that was aided by well-schemed blitzes in critical situations as the Jets were the 2nd ranked team when it came to getting off the field on 3rd down. In terms of just getting to the QB with your standard pass rush, the Jets struggled more often than not though.
Those struggles lead to opposing QBs having way too much time to sit back in the pocket and find wide-open receivers. As a result, the team surrendered over 380 yards per game in conjunction with 27.6 points per game.
Teams were able to get the Jets into unfavorable packages facilitating runs into light boxes. But even in their base, there were too many players struggling to get into their gaps, get off of blocks or even getting pushed around.

Even though there weren’t too many highlights, there were certain players playing at a high level providing a glimpse of hope for the future and a core to build around. Jamal Adams has turned into a player in both coverage and against the run, though he is at his best playing closer to the box. He was also a highly efficient blitzer. Trumaine Johnson had a strong season very quietly but only played in 10 games. Having him back fully healthy for the entire season is going to be so valuable for this defense. Morris Claiborne has had arguably the best season of his career and Avery Williamson showed his ability to make plays. A lot of the issues on defense can be traced back to the lack of a consistent pass rush. With that issue figured out, this Jets defense could be a top 15, top 12 type of unit and good enough to compete for a playoff spot.

Sam Darnold struggled for the most part throughout his rookie season. Which can be expected and is the case for most rookies, but it is noteworthy given the hype he came in with last year especially in light of what a certain QB in Cleveland has been able to do. Darnold was light years away from performances like that. He missed a lot of throws, took too long to recognize things post-snap and therefore missed good opportunities and windows, then throwing late often leading to interceptions. He was very inefficient more often than not and made bad decisions under pressure as well as committed unforced errors.

With that being said, there were countless examples of him showcasing why he was the 3rd overall pick of last year’s draft. Beautiful deep balls, quickly recognizing and exposing defensive weaknesses, etc. Once he’s able to put plays like that on display consistently, the New York Jets got themselves a QB.
The lack of a passing game allowed defenses to load up the box and make the Jets rushing attack an inefficient one with one of the worst per carry averages in the league last year.
Aside from Darnold’s upside, Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa are 2 more than solid wideouts who have been consistent and reliable. Especially Anderson’s taking the top off defenses quality will be huge to go along with Darnold’s development.

The impact additions:
The Jets grabbed 2 All-Pros and best players at their respective positions in Le’Veon Bell (3-time All-Pro) and C.J. Mosley (4-time All-Pro). On top of that, the team from Florham Park was able to acquire former Pro Bowler and All-Pro guard Kelechi Osemele in a trade with the Oakland Raiders. In the draft, Gang Green secured the services of DL Quinnen Williams (3rd overall) who’s capable to play anything from the 1-technique all the way to the 5-technique. Joining him in the draft class are Jachai Polite, an edge rusher from Florida and Chuma Edoga, a tackle from USC (both in the 3rd round).

Aside from Edoga, I believe all of those players will make a huge impact immediately. Polite is raw as well but he can be a situational pass rusher that has to be accounted for. The line around Leonard and Quinnen Williams will create a lot of one on one matchups for everyone (the likes of Henry Anderson, Polite and Jordan Jenkins, who was tied with Anderson for the sack lead last year) and each other as you can’t double-team both on every play. Leonard Williams has failed to impress in his first few seasons with the team but if given consistent one on one opportunities he can make plays.

While the Jets had 2 good CBs last year, the middle of the field was an area of concern coverage-wise. Adding one of the best coverage LBs in the game in C.J. Mosley is erasing that problem immediately. Mosley is one of the most instinctive players both in coverage as well as against the run. He is incredibly adept at not only reading and recognizing but anticipating. He foresees routes coming before they develop. A Hall of Fame level trait. Football IQ. He’s going to be the QB of the defense, the prolonged arm of the coach. Making checks and audibles. Getting guys lined up and in the right calls against the respective personnel groupings and formations.

Quinnen Williams is a stud against the run and a consistent pocket-disrupter. He’s got a great first step, his hands are big and strong, he’s playing with great technique and pad-level and knows how to stab offensive linemen. His hand usage is textbook. He’s got pass rush moves to go along with how he uses his hands, he understands leverage and is extremely versatile being able to play up and down the line of scrimmage, which is especially valuable in today’s game given the fact that sub-packages rule the day and that there are so many different fronts being employed from snap to snap. Williams can finish, he can push and collapse the pocket and gets into his gaps quickly against the run as well as is able to handle double-teams play in and play out.

Kelechi Osemele was good in the Ravens’ zone-blocking scheme before being recognized as a Pro Bowler and All-Pro in Oakland. He’s going to stabilize that line and help the running game with his ability, savvy and experience.

Le’Veon Bell is not only going to revitalize the running game, he’s also going to be a major part of the passing attack. Which in return is going to draw attention and create space as well as one on one opportunities for Anderson and Enunwa out wide.

The additions the Jets made addressed most of the issues they’ve had last season. Gang Green already had playmakers on the defense last season and with the adding of Quinnen Williams and C.J. Mosley to Jamal Adams, Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne and Leonard Williams, especially with the impact and the domino effect I highlighted with each player earlier in the article, this Jets defense has the players to be a top 12 unit next season.
Bell and Osemele are both major factors in the potential the offense has in 2019. Especially Bell’s impact is going to make life so much easier for Sam Darnold. How far they will actually go is up to the second-year signal-caller. Now it’s really on his shoulders. If he takes the next step in his development and becomes more consistent, the Jets could be the team in New York in 2019 and make a real push for the playoffs.

Coaching/scheme changes:
After the disappointing 2018 campaign and a 4-12 finish the Jets severed their connections with head coach Todd Bowles as well as offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers. Former Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase is the new headman of the Green and White. Gase is a former offensive coordinator and QBs coach and is known as a creative play designer and offensive mastermind. Together with new offensive coordinator, Dowell Loggains, he’s going to design the new-look Jets offense. So how is the offense going to look in 2019? Gase’s offenses throughout the years include the record-setting Broncos offense in 2013 as well as drawing up schemes making QBs like Ryan Tannehill and even Jay Cutler have career years. What’s amazing to watch with Gase running an offense is that he takes concepts from almost every offensive scheme. He’s good at creating mismatches especially through pre-snap motions, putting stress on defenses through flood pass concepts (putting more receivers than there are defenders to one side) and a well-drawn up first-read openings and check-down system on every play. He’s also known for making reads and plays easier for QBs with limitations like a Cutler. He’s going to gameplan around the strength of his players and for each opponent’s weaknesses individually. Case in point: If he sees an LB having particular deficiencies covering RBs or a TE, he’s going to create that matchup through clearout routes, taking away all other defenders and isolating that LB on the RB or TE. That’s well documented on film.

Defensively the Jets hired former Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who despite being known for implementing his 4-3 attacking defenses wherever he goes, is going to run a 3-4 with the Jets as they have last year under then defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers. Williams is one of the most aggressive defensive coordinators out there, his style of defense is one I particularly fancy. Play with speed and aggression. He’s going to throw the kitchen sink at every QB he’s facing, he’s great at using many different fronts, blitz packages and coverages. Williams’ creativity when it comes to the blitz packages is especially fun to watch. Guys are going to be coming from all over the field, he loves overload and trap blitzes and emphasizes flying to the ball until the whistle is blown. The main focus is putting pressure on the QB and creating confusion leading to errors and takeaways. He does a marvelous job disguising his coverage calls and giving the offense many different and complex looks. The new additions on defense together with maybe the most important one in Gregg Williams leads me to believe the Jets are going to be a top 12 unit, maybe even top 10ish. One thing is clear, they’re going to be ranked very highly as it related to takeaways and we all know that turnovers are the most deciding factor in most games especially nowadays.

Breakout player on offense: QB Sam Darnold
Darnold is the obvious choice here but I think he has shown last year (even though it was only in flashes) the kind of upside he possesses and with Le’Veon Bell joining the offense alongside Adam Gase to complement the vastly improved other side of the ball, he won’t be asked to do too much and can keep collecting experiences. Darnold will have time to grow facing Williams’ defense in practice is only going to help that. All those factors could lead to him being more consistent and making smarter decisions with not as much on his shoulders. If that happens the Jets are a serious playoff contender in 2019.

Breakout player on defense: DL Quinnen Williams
As I’ve stated above, Williams will come in and have an immediate impact. Not only himself making plays, but creating one on one opportunities for others as well as forcing the issue yielding in ill-advised throws and picks by the coverage defenders. He will wreak havoc and be a disruptive force all along the line of scrimmage right off the bat.

Position battles to watch:

Trumaine Johnson and Morris Claiborne are pretty much penciled in on the outside. The Jets brought in Brian Poole, the former Falcon who’s going to be competing against Darryl Roberts for the nickel spot. Whoever loses that battle is going to be a very, very solid dime.

Tight End:
The Jets enter camp with 4 TEs (Chris Herndon, Eric Tomlinson, Daniel Brown and Trevon Wesco). This is one of the more open battles in Jets camp. You figure Herndon and Tomlinson have a step on the other 2 guys but there’s nothing set in stone here.

4th wide receiver and down:
Robby Anderson, Quincy Enunwa and Jamison Crowder are all going to be part of the team and big parts of the offense. Behind that, there’s pretty much all remaining 3 (?) spots up for grabs.

Backup inside and outside backers:
Mosley, Williamson, Polite, Jenkins are all going to be part of the defense and play major roles. Behind that Brandon Copeland, Tarell Basham are going to have to compete with the likes of James Burgess and Co.

Backup offensive linemen:
There’s a wealth of players especially at the guard position. Osemele and Brian Winters are the starters at guard barring injuries, but behind them, there’s a competition between Tom Compton who was brought in via free agency and Ben Braden in particular. They’ve also brought in Jordan Morgan, a former 5th round pick in 2017.

Gang Green has brought in a lot of talent at key spots and addressed many needs through both free agency and the draft. It all hinges on the development of QB Sam Darnold. He’s the missing piece now. He’s got talent around him now, talent that’s going to make plays for him. He doesn’t have to force anything. Darnold should just focus on getting down the offense and then playing within the offense being confident in his reads. Accelerate his processing abilities and making quicker, better decisions. If he’s able to take the next step and do all of that, we’ll see the Jets in the postseason in 2019.



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