Imagining and detailing the picture-perfect New York Jets 2019 season is something only the most comfortable of dreams can produce.
There he is. There he goes. Watch Sam Darnold confidently walk off that dreaded Orchard Park field on Dec. 29. 2019, around 4:15 p.m. ET.
Head held high, Darnold struts while knowing he just slew the ghosts of 2015 past. The 9-6 New York Jets entered Week 17 with a win-and-in scenario on the table. Only the Buffalo Bills stood between a wild-card berth and gone fishin’.
Welcome to the Jets perfect 2019 season scenario.
First, what is perfect? Nineteen wins remain the gold standard, of course, only nearly realized by the 2007 New England Patriots. But fortunately, we live in reality. This isn’t Homer Simpon’s magical land of chocolate or Colin Cowherd’s roll easy with the casual narrative 0-16 prediction two seasons ago.
This is cold country, the Not For Long area of the internet that thinks and speaks in a proper perspective.
So 10-6 it is, a mark anybody involved with the organization would sign off on immediately.
Forget Sam Darnold; The O-Line Must Step Up
The several key ingredients to a perfect Jets season are few, yet ultra-critical. While it’s fine to think, dream and even eat Darnold as a fan and media pundit, he’s not the top key in the equation.
Go ahead, Adam Gase, and do your quarterback whispering thing, but your O-line has to first show up with extra beef.
Left tackle Kelvin Beachum will be 30 by the time camp opens. Jets fans just witnessed a certain lineman who fell hard around the same unmagical age. James Carpenter just turned 30 in March. He’s gone. Beach, who’s never qualified for a single Pro Bowl during his seven-year big-boy career, cannot decline an ounce.
Speaking of left guard, out goes a 30-year-old and in comes another soon-to-be 30-year-old in Kelechi Osemele. Hailed as the next O-line savior, in a long line of failed such individuals (Ryan Clady, Brandon Shell, Wesley Johnson, Spencer Long, Brian Winters returning from injury), the offense is completely reliant upon Osemele’s health and prior dominant form.
Perfection for the Jets O-line consists of an undrafted free agent turning out as a diamond in the rough and Chuma Edoga turning out as legit. Not only does the unit required depth, but it’ll need new starters to show face this upcoming season.
Figure O-line perfection as Osemele in the Pro Bowl, either Harrison or an unknown manning down the middle, Edoga turning out as a steal (after filling in for Beachum or Shell), and Winters returning to more-than-solid form. It’s impossible for the unit to be a dominant one, yet with Adam Gase’s three-step proficiency and Le’Veon Bell‘s cat-and-mouse patience, blending in while not destroying the offense is the great hope at the moment.
Jachai Polite, Pro Bowl Rookie
What Jachai Polite lacks in the film room he makes up for with raw physical traits on the field. The young third-round Florida product is named to the Pro Bowl squad with his 12.5 sacks.
Quinnen Williams and Leonard Williams need Polite more than they even know. Against the run, the Jets are already dominant. C.J. Mosley filling and spilling and Jamal Adams serving as the best run support safety in the NFL, the Williams Brothers’ presence will act as the cherry on top.
Pass defense is the area Gregg Williams is shivering in the corner at the moment.
Balance is needed across the four-man conventional pass rush and until somebody shows face as the No. 1 edge man, it just won’t work; it’s that simple. Jordan Jenkins is a solid second option and excellent run-support edge. He needs help.
The Cornerback Situation Turns Golden
The seven-year Pro Bowl-less Trumaine Johnson is reunited with his former defensive coordinator and it feels so good.
Johnson’s return to form is part of the perfect recipe. Darryl Roberts as the No. 2 guy and Brian Poole as the slot man can work. But the corner spot, while dire on the surface, is more dependent on Williams’s defense generating a conventional rush.
The corner is a secondary worry in Jets land.
Perfection includes Johnson returning to Los Angeles Rams form and Roberts cementing himself as a legitimate NFL starter.
- Sam Darnold: 16 G, 4,240 YDS, 27 TD, 17 INT, 66.5 COMP%
- Le’Veon Bell: 14 G, 1,150 RSH YDS, 8 RSH TD, 4.1 YPC, 510 REC YDS, 5 TD (Pro Bowl)
- Quincy Enunwa: 15 G, 76 REC, 925 REC YDS, 7 TD
- Robby Anderson: 16 G, 64 REC, 1,175 REC YDS, 8 TD (Pro Bowl fill-in)
- Chris Herndon: 15 G, 52 REC, 700 REC YDS, 7 TD
- Jamison Crowder: 13 G, 45 REC, 450 REC YDS, 3 TD, 320 RSH YDS, 2 TD
- Quinnen Williams: 16 G, 11 SK, 13 TFL (Pro Bowl)
- Leonard Williams: 15 G, 9.5 SK, 11 TFL (Pro Bowl fill-in)
- Jachai Polite: 16 G, 12.5 SK (Pro Bowl)
- Jordan Jenkins: 16 G, 6.5 SK
- Henry Anderson: 16 G, 5 SK, 6 TFL
- C.J. Mosley: 16 G, 120 TKL (Pro Bowl)
- Avery Williamson: 15 G, 95 TKL
- Jamal Adams: 16 G, 105 TKL, 3 INT, 5.5 SK (All-Pro)
- Marcus Maye: 13 G, 6 INT, 7 PD
- Trumaine Johnson: 15 G, 4 INT, 11 PD
- Darryl Roberts: 16 G, 7 INT, 14 PD
- Brian Poole: 16 G, 2 INT, 9 PD, 2.5 SK
Remember, this is the best-case scenario and young Polite signals the defensive key. That outside balance is essential to opening up everything else.
Offensively, some may think best-case would mean over 1,200 yards for Robby Anderson. Not so fast. With Le’Veon Bell sure to take up a chunk of the receiving duties and Chris Herndon here to stay, both wideouts should remain modest when compared to the rest of the stud receivers in the league.
Quincy Enunwa must stay healthy for the Jets perfect scenario to ring true. Playing in just 40 games of a possible 80 throughout his five-year NFL career, he’s Darnold’s lone possession receiver who can run every route.
- @ BUF: Win
- vs. CLE: Win
- @ NE: Loss
- @ PHI: Loss
- vs. DAL: Win
- vs. NE: Win
- @ JAX: Loss
- @ MIA: Win
- vs. NYG: Win
- vs. WAS: Win
- vs. OAK: Loss
- @ CIN: Win
- vs. MIA: Loss
- @ BAL: Loss
- vs. PIT: Win
- @ BUF: Win
Think of the schedule in three parts: Week 1 through 7, the first tough phase, Week 8 through 14, the cupcake part, and Week 15 through 17, the tough close-out portion. (Jacksonville in Week 8 can even be included in the first phase.)
Generally, a softer opening to the football schedule does wonders for teams struggling to understand just how great they are. Locker room momentum goes a long way for average teams playing over their heads. For the Jets in 2019, this is not the case. It’s a tougher opening and they’ll have to weather the storm.
The key for Adam Gase’s debut New York season is possessing an 8-5 record heading into the last three weeks. If it happens, imagining young Darnold walking off that Orchard Park field with a strut not yet seen from the kid in the NFL is a definite possibility.
Remember, first-year head coach seasons have been kind to the Jets. Herm Edwards, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan and Todd Bowles have all come in to qualify for the tournament in year one. It’s the stabilizing aspect shortly thereafter that’s been the nagging issue.
Nonetheless, live it. Breathe it. And understand the O-line must magically come together, Jachai Polite needs to provide double-digit sacks, and Sam Darnold has to continue down the path of franchise-quarterback stardom for the New York Jets perfect 10-6/wild-card berth scenario to come to fruition.