The New York Jets acquired their quarterback of the future in the 2018 Draft, but they will remain a work in progress in the upcoming campaign.
The Jets moved up from six to three to select Sam Darnold out of USC. Darnold had been considered the leading prospect heading into the 2018 Draft, but the Cleveland Browns’ move for Baker Mayfield and the New York Giants’ decision to opt for Saquon Barkley allowed the Jets to strike.
New York have been starved of a quality starter at the position since the days of Joe Namath. The club have endured long-standing issues, resulting in their failure to appear or win the Super Bowl since the days of Namath and the triumph in 1969.
Despite the promise of Darnold, the Jets come into the campaign off a 5-11 season in 2017. Todd Bowles managed to remain in his role as head coach. However, Bowles and his staff are under pressure to produce results.
The club’s defense has lost Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson from the defensive line over the past two seasons. There’s not a great deal of talent on the unit therefore Darnold and his team-mates on offense will have work to do throughout the term to keep the Jets competitive.
The Jets were bold in their decision to select Darnold, moving up to the third selection. New York do not have a great history selecting quarterbacks out of USC. Their previous shift up in the draft in 2009 to acquire Mark Sanchez ended in failure, despite reaching the AFC Championship Game in back-to-back campaigns. Darnold has to break the trend and the Jets have placed faith in the 21-year-old by handing him starting duties for the season.
Teddy Bridgewater was signed as a potential bridge starter in case Darnold was not NFL-ready. However, Bridgewater was moved to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for draft picks, signalling the way for Darnold to make his bow. There will be a great deal of pressure on the quarterback. He does not have an elite defense or talented receivers to count on. Darnold will make rookie mistakes and it could be a sink-or-swim situation.
Isaiah Crowell arrived in the off-season from the Browns, and he has had his moments in the NFL. However, he is not the quality running back needed to ease the burden on Darnold. New York will need to rely on him to have at least one or two big matches of over 100 yards to share the load otherwise it could be a long season for the club.
The receiving corps is not stacked with talent either, placing further pressure on Darnold. Jermaine Kearse, Robby Anderson and Quincy Enuwa have had their moments in the NFL, but none of the wideouts are anywhere close to the upper echelons of the league at the positon. The same can be said at tight end where there are a dearth of options. It will be a test of Darnold’s mettle in his rookie campaign to get the most out of limited talent.
Under Rex Ryan the Jets boasted one of the most formidable units in the NFL. The same cannot be said of the current defense under Bowles. They’ve lost key members of the team over the past couple of season as Wilkerson and Richardson have both departed, removing a large chunk of the pass-rush. The Jets are not renowned for their rushing ability, which is surprising given that they’re playing in the same division as Tom Brady.
Leonard Williams is the outstanding player on the defensive line. He is stout against the run and does provide an aggressive option on third down. Last season was a down year for the 24-year-old and he will have to prove a point. Williams has to become a leader and the force to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks. There’s not a lot around him other than Henry Anderson, who has flashed in his time with the Indianapolis Colts.
Darron Lee has been solid in his first two years in the NFL, but not the playmaker the Jets need at the linebacker position. He needs to take a huge step forward in his development. The signing of Avery Williamson may free up Lee to become more active in the backfield, which could bring out the best in the 23-year-old. Bowles will be expecting big things out of the linebacker this term.
Jamal Adams is a superstar in the making. He did have rookie moments against Rob Gronkowki, but for most of the season he proved to be a quality safety. Alongside him Marcus Maye had a good year in his rookie term. The duo will grow together and could blossom into a fine tandem. However, the cornerback positions are a major concern and could expose the secondary.
Don’t expect great things out of the Jets this term. They’ve not reached the playoffs since the 2010 campaign and that will not change this season. Back them to miss the playoffs at -500 and to win under seven matches at +125 with 888Sport.
The Jets will be in a battle with the Buffalo Bills to avoid fourth place in the AFC East. Take them to finish third in the division due to the quality of Darnold at odds of +140 with BetOnline. However, don’t count them out of having the worst record in the NFL at +1000 along with having the lowest scoring offense at +800 with BetOnline.
Bowles was walking a fine line last season in his role. Another campaign of failure could result in his dismissal first this term, therefore take him at odds of +1200 to be the first coach fired with BetOnline. Darnold’s progress will be the one to watch throughout the campaign. He could save his coach’s job with an impressive season. Take him to win offensive rookie of the year at odds of +550 with 888Sport.
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