2020 New York Jets Outlook
Adam Gase led the New York Jets to their ninth straight season without a playoff berth. New York finished with a 7-9 in 2019, which was their highest win total since 2015 (10-6). Gase has a 30-34 record in his four years as a head coach for the Dolphins and the Jets with one playoff appearance. He has 15 seasons of NFL experience, with all of his coaching coming on the offensive side of the ball.
Dowell Loggains returns as the offensive coordinator, which is the same position he held over the previous four seasons in Chicago, Miami, and New York. Last year the Jets fell to 32nd in the NFL in offensive yards, which was their third straight season of decline (26th in 2016, 28th in 2017, and 29th in 2018). New York scored only 276 points (31st), which was 57 fewer than the previous season. Loggains won't survive another season if the Jets don't improve by a wide margin in 2020.
The Jets brought in Gregg Williams to run the defense after spending 2018 as the Browns defensive coordinator and interim head coach. Williams has been in charge of an NFL defense for 19 seasons. Gregg went 22-34 over four different years as a head coach. In 2019, the Jets improved to seventh in the league in yards allowed (25th in 2018) while shaving 82 points off the scoreboard (16th in points allowed – 359).
The first order of business for the Jets in the offseason was improving their offense. They added a pair of offensive linemen – C Connor McGovern, G Greg Van Roten, and T George Fant. T Brandon Shell signed with Seattle after failing to improve over the last three years.
In his second year as a starter for the Broncos, McGovern worked his way to a league-average player with his best area of growth coming in pass protection. Van Roten earned starting snaps over the last two years for the Panthers, but his game projects a backup option for New York. He's never been an asset in run blocking while playing in front of Christian McCaffrey in 2018 and 2019.
Fant signed a three-year deal for $30 million in March. He's never been a full starter in the NFL. Fant will be insurance at left tackle while looking position to start at right tackle.
New York took a flier on WR Breshad Perriman after his success late in the year for Tampa. He'll replace WR Robby Anderson on the roster who signed with Carolina.
The Jets didn't bring back RB Ty Montgomery, WR Demaryius Thomas, T Kelvin Beachum, CB Trumaine Johnson, S Rontez Miles, C Ryan Kalil, and RB Bilal Powell. Beachum is the only player who added value last year.
CB Pierre Desir, CB Maurice Canady, and LB Patrick Onwuasor were the top players added to the defense. New York should slide Desir into their starting lineup. He played well in 2018, but wide receivers beat him for too many long plays last year.
By one metric, the Jets had the best draft in 2020. In the first round of this year's draft, the Jets invested in T Mekhi Becton. New York hopes that they found a long time Pro Bowler, who should instantly improve the run game. Becton is a beast of a man (6'7" and 364 lbs.). His range should be expansive with his long reach while possessing the footwork to control pass rushers. Becton's desire to fire after the snap can lead to some poor timing if he misses his mark. Maintaining his weight and overall quickness are the keys to his long term upside.
New York picked up WR Denzel Mims with the 27th selection in the second round. At the goal line in fade or jump ball options, he has the feel of a battler with some outcomes almost looking like a war of contact. In the NFL, Mims needs to be cleaner out of his breaks to create a better rhythm with his quarterback. He can make tough catches, but he doesn't have that natural snatch the ball with his hands at the high point feel. A slight bobble will be an incompletion most of the time in the pros.
With their two selections in the third round, the Jets added S Ashtyn Davis and LB Jabari Zuniga.
Davis comes to the NFL with plenty of upside. His thinker mentality should improve with more experience. He has cover skills for the safety position with a willingness to fire at oncoming ball carriers. His next step is finding a balance between attack and patience. Davis needs improvement in his vision and timing when making tackles in the open field.
Zuniga looks the part of an explosive player with the talent to attack the quarterback. If given daylight on any play, he has the game to finish while also have an edge if asked to change direction. Zuniga must get stronger to win against top-flight power players. Offenses will game plan to attack him with strength.
New York brought RB La'mical Perine and QB James Morgan with their first to additions in the fourth round.
Perine has the feel of running back that will take the yards given to him, but his feet don't have the change of direction value needed to create a winning starting edge in the NFL. His best move may be a slight jump-cut through the line of scrimmage where his acceleration has value over a short area. Perine runs with patience and some power, but his game takes a clear step back when faced with no running room and forced to make yards with his quickness from a standstill.
Last year Morgan played through a knee issue, which hurt overall production. Morgan is a big quarterback (6'4" and 230 lbs.) with a live arm. He wants to drive the ball to his receivers, but his mechanics need improvement, which will upgrade his accuracy. Morgan has a long motion while holding the ball at waist level at times, which will lead to many fumbles in the NFL. He doesn't read defenses well and his rhythm, feel, and touch in the short passing game needs plenty of work.
G Cameron Clarke was New York's choice with their third pick in the fourth round. Clarke played left tackle in college. His power projects well at guard at the next level. He needs a better plan with his hands to help overcome his shortfall in quickness. Clarke can step up his game vs. top competitors, but his motor doesn't carry as well from game-to-game.
New York added CB Bryce Hall and P Braden Mann in the fifth and sixth rounds.
Hall hasn't been able to overcome his shortfall in his movements when back peddling. His game plays well moving forward in zones and handling wide receivers over short areas in the press. Hall lacks the wheels and the movements to cover receivers over the long field. He projects well in the red zone, and I expect growth as a CB3 for New York in his rookie season.
Mann has a big leg with the ability to pin an offense inside the ten-yard line. His next area of improvement needed is adding more height on long kicks to help his coverage team.
New York fell to 31st in rushing yards (1,257) last year while scoring only six rushing TDs. They gained 3.3 yards per carry with two measly rushes over 20 yards. The Jets finished 27th in passing yards (3,443) with 19 TDs and 16 Ints. Their offensive line allowed 52 sacks and 106 QB hits.
LT Mekhi Becton
The rebuild of the Jets offensive line starts with their rookie first-round draft pick. Becton should stop the bleeding in sacks allowed while being a significant improvement in the run blocking.
LG Alex Lewis
After missing the first three games in 2019 with his recovery from shoulder surgery, Lewis made 12 starts for the Jets. His play in pass protection improved late in the year while never developing into an asset in run blocking. New York signed him to a three-year contract for $18 million in March, which puts him on track to start in 2020. Lewis has a lot to prove going forward.
C Connor McGovern
Over the last two seasons, McGovern started all 32 games for the Broncos. Their offense played well at times in the run game, but lack talent in the passing game. McGovern looks to be a slight negative in run blocking while should a massive improvement in his pass blocking last year. He's trending toward a league-average player.
RG Greg Van Roten
Van Roten will compete with Brian Winters for the starting right guard job. Van Roten made 27 starts over the past two years for the Panthers. His play was much better in pass blocking while seeing action at left guard. Winters hasn't played well since 2015 and 2016. He grades as a below-par player in all areas at this point in his career.
RT George Fant
In 2018 as a rotational player for Seattle, Fant showed improvement at right tackle. Last year he started 8 of the 17 games for the Seahawks with some issues in both run and pass blocking. His overall plays did improve in all areas over the final quarter of the regular season while playing left tackle.
The Jets' offense is coming off a low bar in 2019 with weakness in all areas. They revamped their whole offensive line, but only their left tackle projects to an upper-echelon player. Overall, they moved closer to the league average, which is much better than where they finished last year.
QB Sam Darnold, CAR - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
2020 was a rough year for Darnold and the Jets' offense. After a short Week 1 (175/1), he missed three games with a battle with mononucleosis. Darnold finished with one impact game (293/4) while posting 32 or under passing attempts in eight contests. At this point in his career, Darnold lacks the star power to be a top tier QB in the fantasy market. The Jets struggled to run the ball last year with weakness at the TE position (44/446/6 on 57 targets).
New York added WR Denzel Mims with the 27th pick in the second round in 2020, which gives the Jets a deep threat with scoring ability. He has volume pass-catcher in WR Jamison Crowder, and the combination of WR Breshad Perriman and TE Chris Herndon should add more length to the passing options in 2020.
Darnold has the talent to be a league-average QB (4,000 yards and 24 TDs), but this offense has a lot to prove this year. Fantasy owners have him priced as the 24th-drafted quarterback in the early draft season with an ADP of 128. In the first run of the projections, I have Darnold passing for 3,691 yards with 22 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.
QB James Morgan, --- - Dynasty Only
Morgan had a chance to play quarterback over four different seasons in college, but only once did he flash any intrigue (2018 at FIU – 2,727 passing yards with 27 TDs and seven Ints). Over 42 career games, he passed for 8,654 yards with 65 TDs and 34 Ints. His completion rate (57.2) was a liability in every season except one (65.3). Morgan will hold a clipboard for many games before getting a chance to play in the NFL.
RB Lamical Perine, NYJ - Dynasty Only
Over four seasons at Florida, he gained 3,159 combined yards with 30 touches and 72 catches on 565 touches. His best value running the ball came in 2018 (134/826/7)) while setting career highs in catches (40), receiving yards (262), and receiving TDs (5) last year.
His speed (4.62 forty) is below par while showing plenty of strength (22 reps in the bench press at the NFL combine). He works hard with fight in his game. Perine has looker feel in pass protection while thinking rather than knowing where to go to pick up the free-running blitzer. This shortfall looks coachable, and more experience in these situations will help his growth.
The Jets signed RB Frank Gore in mid-May, which pushes Perine a notch down on the depth chart.
RB Josh Adams, --- - Low Potential
Last year the Jets carried Adams on their practice squad after picking him off waivers in August from the Eagles. In 2018, he gave Philly two solid outings (22/84/1 and 20/85) as an injury replacement while starting five games. Adams is a big back (6'2" and 225 lbs.) with a power runner feel. With only eight touches last year, he's nothing more than a waiver wire player in 2020 while needing some injuries to increase his playing time.
RB Le'Veon Bell, --- - Gamble (high risk)
The quest for a payday in the NFL led to Bell getting $27 million in guaranteed money from the Jets, but he had to be clicking his heels during the year while saying, "there's no place like Pittsburgh." He finished the year with a measly 3.2 yards per rush and regression in his yards per catch (7.0). New York gave him 311 touches, leading to 1,250 combined yards or a 36 percent regression in yards (1,946) from 2019. Bell played through shoulder, knee, and ankle issues while missing one game due to an illness.
Bell gained over 2,100 yards in 2014 with 83 catches and 11 TDs, almost 1,900 yards in 2016 with 75 catches, and nine TDs, and over 1,900 yards in 2017 with 85 catches and 11 TDs. Over his six years in the NFL, he averaged 24,05 touches per game.
Tough to get excited here, but Bell will out touch many backs drafted higher than him in 2020. Don't dismiss as his resume and opportunity give him a chance to rebound with better offensive play. I'm bullish on him this year (1,435 combined yards with ten TDs and 63 catches) compared to his ADP (37 – 19th RB drafted). Buy the expected touches while knowing he has a chance at offering more upside.
RB Frank Gore, --- - Over the Hill (decreased production)
Gore is the running back that keeps on ticking. He'll start 2020 at age 37 while ranking third in rushing yards (15,347) and rushing attempts (3,548). He gained under 4.0 yards per rush in four of his five previous seasons. Gore scored only three touchdowns over his last 347 touches. Only veteran insurance with no fantasy value on draft day.