It’s been quite a while since the New York Jets were relevant in the NFL’s playoff picture. The Jets haven’t appeared in the postseason since losing to the Steelers in the 2010 AFC Championship Game, which means they’re on the verge of going a full decade without playing beyond Week 17. The Jets have cycled through a couple of head coaches since then, and this offseason they replaced Todd Bowles with former Dolphins boss Adam Gase.
The Jets went just 4-12 last season, but hope reigns supreme in New York. While they haven’t even finished at .500 since a 10-6 campaign in 2015, there is reason for optimism when it comes to this team. New York believes it has its quarterback of the future in Sam Darnold, and the team worked this offseason to add some talent to the roster around him. Darnold endured an uneven rookie campaign, but the upside is evident.
The Jets’ 4 wins last season came at the expense of the Lions, Broncos, Colts, and Bills. They endured a six-game losing streak alongside two separate three-game skids as well. Playing in the same division as the Patriots means the Jets aren’t necessarily likely to challenge for an AFC East title this season, but there is no reason to believe they can’t fight for second place and a Wild Card spot in a wide-open conference in 2019.
Will the installation of a brand new coaching staff as well as a big infusion of new talent lead to better things in the Meadowlands next season?
There was plenty of player movement around the NFL this offseason, and the Jets were right in the thick of things. The biggest move the team made was to sign former Steelers All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell. Bell was arguably the game’s best overall running back before missing all of last season due to a contract dispute, but the Jets are banking on a return to form. Bell’s deal is reportedly worth in excess of $52 million, with about $35 million in guaranteed cash.
New York is optimistic that the addition of Bell will help improve a rushing attack that was one of the league’s worst in 2018. The New York Jets averaged just 101.4 rushing yards per game last season, which ranked just 26th in the NFL. Since entering the league out of Michigan State back in 2013, Bell has amassed 1,200 or more rushing yards in three of five seasons. The only seasons in which he failed to crack 1,000 yards on the ground were his rookie campaign and the 2015 season in which he was limited to just six games due to injury and suspension.
Bell isn’t the only new face at Jets camp, though. The team also signed former Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley and ex-Redskins wideout Jamison Crowder to free agent deals. Mosley, who is still just 26, will earn $51 million in guarantees over the course of his five-year deal, but he’s also arguably one of the five best players at his position in all of football. His presence will automatically upgrade the linebacking corps dramatically.
Crowder isn’t as flashy a name as Bell or Mosley, but he will slide into a slot receiver role in the offense. The slot receiver is a huge part of Gase’s offense, and Crowder was considered by most to be among the best options at the position available this offseason. Adding a possession receiver like Crowder to a group that already features a couple of intriguing youngsters in Robby Anderson and Quincy Enunwa looks like a smart move on the part of the Jets.
The New York Jets addressed the defensive line with each of their first two draft picks (Quinnen Williams and Jachai Polite), while their third-rounder (Chuma Edoga) should compete for a spot along the offensive line.
Backup quarterback Josh McCown retired, so the Jets are a bit thin behind Darnold. Former Broncos starter Trevor Siemian and Davis Webb are listed as Nos. 2 and 3 on the depth chart, but here’s hoping Darnold is able to stay healthy enough to where neither of them will actually be needed in a game.
New York also upgraded the offensive line by acquiring Pro Bowl guard Kelechi Osemele from the Raiders. Given the weakness of the offensive line free agency crop, nabbing Osemele in exchange for what amounts to a fifth-round pick looks like a no-brainer. The Jets also added depth to the defensive backfield by signing corner Brian Poole. Both Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine are gone, so New York was in need of additional bodies to play alongside Trumaine Johnson.
After an active offseason, the New York Jets curiously decided to fire the general manager that made those moves, Mike Maccagnan. Other than seeing linebacker Anthony Barr decommit from a contract with the team, there’s no telling what exactly got Maccagnan fired.
|Points per Game||Passing Yards per Game||Rushing Yards per Game|
|20.8 (23rd)||197.8 (25th)||101.4 (26th)|
|Points Against per Game||Passing Yards Allowed per Game||Rushing Yards Allowed per Game|
|27.6 (29th)||254.1 (24th)||126.3 (26th)|
|1||Sun, Sep. 8||vs. Buffalo Bills||1:00pm||CBS|
|2||Mon, Sep. 16||vs. Cleveland Browns||8:15pm||ESPN|
|3||Sun, Sep. 22||at New England Patriots||1:00pm||CBS|
|5||Sun, Oct. 6||at Philadelphia Eagles||1:00pm||CBS|
|6||Sun, Oct. 13||vs. Dallas Cowboys||4:25pm||CBS|
|7||Mon, Oct. 21||vs. New England Patriots||8:15pm||ESPN|
|8||Sun, Oct. 27||at Jacksonville Jaguars||1:00pm||CBS|
|9||Sun, Nov. 3||at Miami Dolphins||1:00pm||CBS|
|10||Sun, Nov. 10||vs. New York Giants||1:00pm||FOX|
|11||Sun, Nov. 17||at Washington Redskins||1:00pm||CBS|
|12||Sun, Nov. 24||vs. Oakland Raiders||1:00pm||CBS|
|13||Sun, Dec. 1||at Cincinnati Bengals||1:00pm||CBS|
|14||Sun, Dec. 8||vs. Miami Dolphins||1:00pm||CBS|
|15||Thu, Dec. 12||at Baltimore Ravens||8:20pm||FOX/NFL Net.|
|16||Sun, Dec. 22||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers||1:00pm||CBS|
|17||Sun. Dec. 29||at Buffalo Bills||1:00pm||CBS|
The first thing that stands out about the Jets’ regular season schedule is that they get the earliest possible bye week in Week 4. Some teams like the early off week, but most seem to think it puts them at a disadvantage in the season’s latter stages. Fatigue and physical wear-and-tear become bigger factors as a season wears on, and not having a full off week after Week 4 can certainly test a team’s mental and physical stamina. New York does get a bit of a respite with a nine-day off period between Weeks 15 and 16, which could be beneficial.
It’s also worth noting that this schedule doesn’t look all that daunting on paper. The New York Jets will face every team in the NFC East and AFC North in addition to the standard six games against AFC East rivals. New York gets the most difficult NFC East games out of the way in back-to-back weeks when they face the Cowboys and Eagles in Weeks 5 and 6.
The Jets will also get the benefit of staying in the northeastern US for the vast majority of their games. Their schedule includes zero games outside of the Eastern Time Zone, which is incredible. The two opponents from outside the Eastern Time Zone (Dallas and Oakland) will both face the Jets in New Jersey. Given everything we hear about how brutal the travel schedule can be for a team like the Seattle Seahawks with no nearby opponents, getting to play all 16 regular season games within just a few hours of their own stadium should be an advantage for the Jets.
From Week 8 and on, the Jets will face just two teams that finished over .500 last season (Baltimore in Week 15 and Pittsburgh in Week 16). The schedule also includes just one set of back-to-back road games, and they’ll come against beatable opponents in Jacksonville and Miami.
Frankly, the Jets’ 2019 season hinges largely on the potential improvement of Sam Darnold. This team finished in last place in the division a season ago, but based on the talent on the roster, the Jets are looking like a team that can legitimately finish second behind New England this time around.
As a rookie, the USC product finished with a completion percentage of 57.7% with 2,865 yards. He threw 17 touchdowns to 15 interceptions, though the presence of Bell should help open things up more for Darnold and the passing attack. If Osemele and what looks like an improved O-line can hold up, Darnold should have enough time to settle down in the pocket.
Betting on the New York Jets at +600 to overthrow the Pats in the division feels a bit optimistic, but I don’t hate the value on New York to sneak into the AFC playoffs at +300, according to MyBookie. It has been quite a while since we’ve seen the Jets enjoy a playoff run, but this is pretty clearly a team trending in the right direction.
Based on last season’s standings, the Jets have one of the easiest 2019 schedules of any team in the league. New York’s ‘19 opponents combined to post a .473 winning percentage a season ago, which is tied for the second-lowest with the Patriots, Rams, Giants, and Bengals. The Patriots, Ravens, Cowboys, and Eagles are the only playoff teams from last season on the Jets’ sked.
Having Darnold learn an entirely new offense after one season in the league isn’t ideal, but having better talent around him should help make the adjustment easier. The defense includes many more question marks, but Quinnen Williams in particular should be a player that makes an impact along the defensive line immediately. The New York Jets’ 39 sacks as a team last season ranked 16th in the league.
The oddsmakers at MyBookie have slapped the Jets with the following over/under heading into the 2019 campaign:
The Jets have failed to get past 5 wins in any of the last three seasons, so making the leap to 7 or more feels like a big jump for this team. In fact, the Jets have exceeded seven wins just three times since their last playoff appearance just under a decade ago.
The New York Jets split their 4 wins last season between home and road. In addition to the three AFC East teams, New York’s home opponents this season will be the Browns, Cowboys, Giants, Raiders, and Steelers. At least three of those teams look like legitimate playoff threats, so getting those matchups at home should give the Jets at least a puncher’s chance.
It’s not unfathomable to think that the New York Jets could get off to a 1-5 start considering how tough the early-season schedule looks, but they should be able to make up some of that ground with what looks to be a more favorable schedule following the bye week. It feels strange to be high on the Jets considering how mediocre they have been for the better part of the last 10 years, but things are setting up decently for this team moving forward.
Anything between 6 and 9 wins wouldn’t be much of a surprise. The oddsmakers actually think the team hitting the over on 7 wins is more likely given the -145 odds, so I wouldn’t talk you out of hitting the under here. There is decent value on the Jets’ under (+115), but I’m officially going on record as a Jets optimist heading into the ‘19 season.
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