When examining realistic New York Jets expectations for the 2019 NFL season, it’s critical to remain calm and keep your head in a clear space.
Four wins? The industry standard 8-8? How about an insane 12-4 campaign that dethrones Tom Brady and the New England Patriots for AFC East supremacy?
Attempting to decipher what’s in store for the 2019 New York Jets is a tricky proposition. The trickiest, perhaps.
There’s Sam Darnold, the sophomore franchise quarterback looking to put a major dent in the NFL. There’s the hip-hop showcasing Le’Veon Bell, the man who skipped an entire offseason and comes in at the older age of 27 (for a workhorse back). A new coaching staff and front office have made Florham Park home, making projections that much more difficult.
Due to the superstar nature of the team’s offseason, coupled with a brand-new administration, gauging a proper win total this coming season is a rough one that’ll keep the diehards up all night.
Due to the instability of the team’s infrastructure, 6-to-8 wins needs to be the mark.
Keep your head.
The NFL Is A Value League
This isn’t the NBA. Stars are rarely factors that drive football victories. The acquisitions of Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley need to be examined for what it’s truly worth: help, not in the mold of “savior status.”
The two Pro-Bowl vets will help the roster in many ways. Bell will immediately thrive in the passing game, allowing young Darnold an outlet when things go awry. His patient rushing style may take some time to gel with a subpar offensive line, but his game will eventually round out as an offensive plus.
Mosley provides the true defensive quarterback this defense has lacked for a good chunk of time. Not since a younger version of David Harris has the Jets defense enjoyed such a play-calling voice in the huddle and pre-snap.
Unfortunately, this isn’t Madden.
Mid-to-late-round value while instinctively rounding out the infrastructure is required prior to thinking big things. Aside from Chris Herndon (suspended for the first four games of the season) and the undrafted Robby Anderson, Mike Maccagnan’s hidden-talent game is what really placed him in the trouble zone.
Darnold, Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams and Quinnen Williams are tremendous, but star power and brand-name individuals only thrive when the infrastructure is ready to roll.
The Ills of the Offensive Line
The story of the Maccagnan era—whether, at times, it’s criminally fallen under the radar or not—continues to blaze on. The franchise’s offensive line remains one of the NFL’s worst.
The Jets 2018 offensive line finished dead last in adjusted line yards with a meager 3.59 mark, via Football Outsiders. Ranked 18th in the passing game and 26th on the ground, by the very same outstanding football company, the unit required special attention this past offseason (not to mention the two offseasons prior, as well).
The only addition was the now-30-year-old Kelechi Osemele. Osemele, whose productivity has reached the All-Pro level, is coming off an injury-riddled season filled with questions. To pretend the Osemele-over-James Carpenter move was everything needed to ensure at least an average O-line is living in fairytale land.
Go ahead and glance at the best teams of 2018; all four, the Patriots, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and Los Angeles Rams, arrived at the football party with nasty upfront units.
The Saints brought two first rounders, a second rounder, and two third rounders to the party a year ago. After losing center Max Unger to retirement, they traded up in the second round to snag Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy.
The value of starting from the trenches-out in football is a tried and tested team-building method that Joe Douglas understands.
“Football is a game of wills,” Douglas told reporters. “We’re going to try to build a team that can impose their will on other teams and to do that you have to be strong up front.”
Until Douglas has his opportunity to improve the most overlooked and underappreciated unit in sports, next offseason, high expectations are tough to assemble.
The Ills of the 4-Man Conventional Pass Rush
Can you imagine Jamal Adams playing behind a legitimate four-man conventional pass rush? The already-best safety in the NFL actually has room to grow.
The truth of the matter is that Adams has played with a handicap his first two big-boy NFL seasons. He’d never admit it, as the great teammate he is; but the fact that New York’s edge-rushing situation remains bleak mirrors the offensive line situation.
It always starts up front. Pressure and movement in the trenches raise the play of every other player behind it. It’s possible Jordan Jenkins reaches double-digit sacks in 2019. Maybe Jachai Polite can burst onto the scene with immense excitement. Perhaps Brandon Copeland can bust out.
Until one of these individuals reaches that legitimate level, ensuring Quinnen, Leo and Henry Anderson aren’t required to move to the outside, again, expectations must be tempered.
It’s possible the Jets win 10, 11 games. Of course it is. This is football. It’s the game that allows squads to play well above or below its talent level. With only 16 games on the slate and momentum serving as a serious force, the NFL Playoffs aren’t out of the question.
If Osemele returns to All-Pro form, Kevin Beachum doesn’t age too quickly, and Jonotthan Harrison resembles a middle-of-the-pack center, things can get real in a hurry. If just one edge rusher steps up to the tune of 10-plus sacks, Gregg Williams’s defense will turn ferocious.
Nevertheless, keep your head. There are serious infrastructure deficiencies the newly-minted general manager is not ignoring.
Eight, six, even four win-predictions isn’t crazy talk. Though the star acquisitions make for tremendous headlines, the perceived offseason winners rarely make it work during the regular season. It’s the unemotional franchises who cut ties with aging vets who usually stun the world (i.e. Pittsburgh Steelers).
For now, until things break right, anywhere between 6-8 wins is the realistic New York Jets expectation in 2019.