It’s New York Jets week! Although it doesn’t feel exactly like a normal Jets week, maybe in part because the Miami Dolphins have had such a strange start to the season, with the postponement of the team’s first game, spending a week in California, and not having a true home game until Week 5. Maybe it is because the first Jets week this season is so early in the year. Maybe it is because the Jets have been so bad early this season.
No matter what, however, it is Jets week. And, to get us ready for the Jets, I turned to Gang Green Nation and GangGreeninYonkers. He was kind enough to answer five questions about the Jets.
1. It seems strange given the Jets did not come into this season with a lot of expectations, and it is only Week 3, but I'm going to ask this anyway: How hot is Todd Bowle's seat?
It's hard to take the temperature of his seat from on what has come directly out of the organization, but based on Bowles' performance, it should be getting very warm. You're right that he shouldn't be judged by wins and losses, as this is clearly a rebuilding year. However, Bowles' resume is starting to look worse every week. The defense-first coach has seen a previously consistently respectable unit dip to what is now the worst scoring defense in the league. Young players (especially on defense) have failed to progress under him, specifically former first round pick Darron Lee, and his game management continues to be baffling week in week out. We don't know yet how the Jets themselves feel about Bowles and his job security, but ask any Jet fan and they'll tell you that his time should be running short.
2. The Jets used their first two draft picks on safeties this year, and have both of them starting. How have they looked? Are they prone to rookie mistakes the Dolphins can exploit?
First-rounder Jamal Adams and second-rounder Marcus Maye have arguably been the best players on the defense so far. Both are highly versatile and capable of playing all over the field, specifically Adams. He has lined up at outside linebacker, inside linebacker, slot corner, outside corner, and both safety positions. Regardless of where he is on the field, his recognition, instincts, and speed are special. He brings a hustle and fire like few others and has the fundamentals to finish a tackle on anybody, as we saw consistently last week against Marshawn Lynch. Adams might be the team's best player right now.
As for Maye, he has seen a few rookie mistakes but has flashed consistently as well. Maye isn't quite as versatile as Adams, as he can struggle in coverage, but he's a big hitter who also possesses quality instincts and recognition. Maye has proven to be a really solid last line of defense (he's gotten plenty of opportunities to show that with the play in front of him), and as an older rookie at 24 seems very pro-ready. Together these two form a safety duo that's probably already in the top half of the league. There are far bigger holes on this defense for the Dolphins to exploit than these two right now.
3. In this week's SB Nation theme question, it was pointed out that the Jets are not as young on offense as would be assumed in a "rebuild" process. Can you give our readers a little more on this, since they probably did not see that article?
This is definitely true. As the article pointed out the Jets offense is starting more 30+ players (Josh McCown, Matt Forte) than below-25 players (Robby Anderson). It's by no means a "veteran" team, but they're not getting nearly as much youth and promise out there as they could. At wide receiver, two promising rookies, ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen, sit behind mediocre veteran Jeremy Kerley and struggling former 7th rounder Charone Peake. Josh McCown is taking away chances to see the young quarterbacks, Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Forte hasn't looked very good but still has gotten more touches than fan favorite Bilal Powell (although he is 28) and rookie Elijah McGuire. It would definitely be encouraging to see more players with potential out there if the Jets aren't going to compete.
4. Where are the strengths to the Jets? The biggest areas of weakness?
As mentioned before on defense the rookie safety duo has been the team's biggest strength. Unfortunately, their performance has been mitigated by the mess that has been made in front of them, which they've had to clean up time after time. The inside linebacking pair of Darron Lee and Demario Davis is the worst in the NFL. Period. Their struggles have destroyed the entire unit; both consistently fill the wrong gaps, bite on play action, get eaten alive on blocks, and are beat clean by running backs in coverage. It's really hard to watch. The defensive line that has been heralded year in year out looks the weakest its been in a long time. Muhammad Wilkerson doesn't look like himself anymore, and that has led Leonard Williams, who has been very, very good in his short career, to attract all of the offensive line's attention and be removed from the game by double teams. The Jets aren't all that good at cornerback either. Slot starter Buster Skrine has really struggled in coverage, while second year outside corner Juston Burris had a very poor game against Oakland. #1 corner Morris Claiborne has been mediocre at best but is still easily the team's best corner.
I'd expect the Dolphins, and most teams, to look to exploit the inside linebackers. Try to get them matched up in coverage, look to use play action often, and run that ball right up the middle. They've shown no ability to resist any of that to this point.
On offense, former Seahawk Jermaine Kearse has been impressive and overtook Robby Anderson as the #1 receiver. He's been McCown's favorite target and hauls in passes within a large catch radius. The offensive line has actually flashed a little bit, looking decent in pass protection and improving in run blocking against the Raiders after a poor running performance in Buffalo. Left guard James Carpenter is widely regarded as the team's most consistent offensive player since 2015, while sophomore right tackle Brandon Shell has had a good start. The Jets might actually be capable of a solid running attack if they could stay in games. However, with Josh McCown at quarterback and a weaponry currently among the league's least intimidating, you get a very conservative West Coast attack. Kearse has been the only skill position player to really stand out. Expect plenty of screen passes and targets short of the first down marker.
5. What are realistic expectations for the Jets this season?
What mainly needs to be seen out of the Jets is progression from the younger players drafted over the last three years. They're not going to win a lot of games. Prior to the year, you might have been able to find 6-7 wins as a best case scenario if the defense was as advertised, but so far it looks far from that. They seem like a 3-4 win team at best right now. The main goals right now are for younger players to develop and show they can be a part of the future. Right now, it's a lot of hit and miss. More holes have been dug than filled on the long-term roster to this point, and that's the primary problem.