New York Jets Mid-Season Report Card

The New York Jets for many years have been a laughing-stock of the league. Whether it be bust picks or the infamous butt fumble, times have been rough for Jet Nation.  Through the darkness a beam of light has emerged, and that light is the future for the Jets.

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The Jets have a bright future ahead of them. They have some young and upcoming stars that are going to light up the league. Starting at the helm with Sam Darnold, then big Leonard Williams, and Jamal Adams in the secondary. Overall, this team is young but quickly rising to the occasion and it has shown this season with how they’ve played.

I am going to do a midseason report card on the New York Jets, based on how they’ve performed. It will be done on a A-F scale, with insightful information and who to look out for with Gang Green

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Quarterbacks

Sam Darnold is the future. Jets fans have been clamoring since 1969 for an answer behind center since Joe “Broadway” Namath. The answer is here.

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Sam has had his ups and downs as a rookie. This is to be expected since a rookie QB is one of the hardest transitions in sports. Though with the challenge, Sam has lived up to the bill. Starting with the positives:

Coming out of college, people raved about his ability to stay cool like the Southern Cali kid he is. This has continued in his time with the Jets; which to say the least is a huge positive that this team has been looking for, for years. He’s poised in the pocket, sticking in there with the rush and firing bullets regardless of prior results.

Another positive is he has fixed many mechanical issues that were once critiqued of him coming out of college. He’s keep his shoulders squared, feet aligned, and fire rockets to open receivers with precision accuracy.

Like this throw in week 5 against the Broncos, where he sets his feet and throws a beautiful long ball in stride to Robby Anderson  (Please click “watch on Youtube” after you hit the play button, NFL restricts content use).Week by week he has continued to grow and become more consistent with his throws, of which he will only get better with time.

It hasn’t been perfect though.

He has shown he is still a rookie many times through the first half of the season. Whether it be on the very first play of his career where he threw a pick-six or being high up on the turnover leaders board. He is without a question a work in progress.

His decision-making has always been in question going into the NFL, and he has at times struggled with the turnover bug. Once again this is a “time and experience will fix it”.

One last negative goes off of the second positive I presented before; sometimes his mechanics are perfect and other times they get a little lost. It’ll cause a few errant throws and sometimes leads to those killer turnovers.

Overall, Sam has the attitude and poise to handle New York and turn around a franchise. He makes plays with his legs and arm, which constantly keep the Jets in every game they’ve been in. Sam is certainly not perfect but he is showing the mold of a great future at QB for Gang Green.

Grade: -B

Runningbacks

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Runningback has been a pleasant surprise for the Jets this season, with Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell running the committee. Crowell has been a great addition this past offseason and leads the Jets with 430 yards and 5 TD’s through the first half. He set a franchise record for 219 yards rushing against the Broncos in week 5. Crowell runs with conviction and a punishing style, that is very effective in the Jets smash-mouth style offense.

Bilal Powell is the longest tenured Jet at 7 years, and has been an epitome of how a Jet should play since day 1. This year is no exception with Powell, where he has been productive and ran hard as always. Powell is the perfect complement to Crowell, where Crowell is a ground and pound back and Powell is a pass-catcher and electric back.

Together they created a duo to be wrecked with in an offense that runs the ball a lot. The Jets are amongst the league leaders in running frequency and these two have answered the bell. They have given this team viable weapons, while making Sam’s job easier.

Grade: b+

Receivers

This is a position group that many people had high hopes for before the season. This group included a group of solid names young and experienced like Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Jermain Kearse, and Terrelle Pryor. There is plenty of talent but this group has been decimated by injuries.

Quincy Enunwa is coming off a neck injury last season, and has looked nothing but good this season. Sam has made Enunwa a favorite through the first half, and is without a doubt his go to. Though when on the field he is productive, he has been hurt the past few weeks and it’s clearly hurt the offense as well. (Please click “Watch on Youtube” after you click the play button, NFL restricts content use)

Robby Anderson is a special talent as well, he is the teams vertical threat with special speed that opens up the defense. He has struggled so far this season mainly because Sam and the offense was slowly opening up. The passing game was mostly screens and short easy throws, which does not benefit Robby. Though in the past few weeks, Sam has gotten more comfortable with the offense and Robby has seen some long targets that make him so dangerous; one of which was for a long TD against the Broncos but overall Robby has not lived up to the expectations.

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Jermain Kearse and Terrelle Pryor are the old bucks in the group. Both are solid and do their job but neither at this point in their career are anything special. Kearse is mainly a possession receiver thus far; getting you a few catches and yards based on what the defense gives him.

Pryor has almost been a-non factor, whether it be him complaining early on about playing time and the injury he was hiding or just lack of explosion and play-making. He’s only made one big play this year and it was a beautiful one-handed catch; besides that he’s done nothing. The Jets just released him to make room for another spot since he is hurt again at the moment but he may rejoin the team at some point since there isn’t much depth on the team with injuries.

There has been one really bright spot in the receiving unit and that is the Tight-end position with Chris Herndon. Over the past few weeks, this rookie out of Miami has looked fantastic. He’s looked like the potential answer at TE that the Jets have been looking for, for years.

He has constantly made tough catches in traffic and athletic plays to make little catches turn into big ones. Over the first few weeks he was relatively quiet but over the past few weeks; he has been fantastic. Sam has quickly made Herndon into a favorite target. Now scoring in two straight weeks against the Colts and Vikings.

With all the injuries, Herndon has stepped up to be a much-needed playmaker for the Jets.

Overall this group has been depleted by injuries and as a result, the performance has been depleted too. When healthy, this group has some talented playmakers. Though as it is right now, they’re not getting the job done; dropping passes leading to interceptions or missed opportunities, and a stagnant at times.

Grade: C

Offensive Line

This group has been the most surprising of all groups on the team. Before the season, the Jets offensive line was projected to be amongst the worst in the league. They have proven that wrong, and shown to be a pretty formidable unit for the most part.

Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Spencer Long, Brian Winters, and Brandon Shell have been solid all around. They haven’t been perfect but they’ve gotten the job done.

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This unit has been one of the best running blocking teams in football. This has been a consistent trend since week one as one of the leaders in rushing in the NFL. They are never truly overmatched or overpowered by any defensive line in the run game, which is a huge plus. This lines success in the run game has shown, as they have become a run heavy team that tries to pound the rock.

Pass blocking on the other hand has been a different story. Inconsistency from week to week has stuck with this unit throughout the year. In games, against the Lions, Broncos, and Colts they had great games with little pressures allowing Darnold to have the time he needs to make good decisions.

In other weeks against the Jaguars, Dolphins, and Vikings they truly struggled. Granted these teams have good defensive lines, they struggled to keep Sam upright and the time he needs. Though the inconsistencies, they overall have actually been better than last years pass blocking unit.

All in all, this unit has been a surprise and better than expected. They have been far too inconsistent to be listed amongst the best but they have their strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly they have stayed healthy so they can jell as a unit. Hopefully they can continue their run game success and improve their consistency all around.

Grade: -B

Defensive Line

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This has been a true strength of the Jets for many years now. This year is no exception. They have studs on the D-Line headlined by Leonard Williams, one of the best young talents in the league.

Williams had a bit of a disappointing year last year but has since resurged this year as a force. He’s constantly blowing plays up, in the backfield, and making plays everywhere.

Williams is not the only stud on this defensive line. Newly acquired Henry Anderson (Via trade with Colts) and Nathaniel Sheppard (draft) have been studs to start off the season. Both have made huge impacts. Both causing pressure on the QB or stuffing the run.

Steve McLendon is the nose tackle, and has been a solid player just like last year. He and this unit lead one of the best run stopping defenses in the league at number 11 in football.

Their pass rush has been okay but certainly not tops in the league. The stats do not do this line justice. Whenever someone watches them, they are constantly causing havoc. They may not be resulting in sacks but their causing rushed throws, incompletions, and turnovers.

This team is lacking a true pure pass rusher and has been for years. Most of their D-Line is built the same, bulky and strong which isn’t always great for passing situations. Though this unit has been something all teams need to be scared about.

Overall, this unit has been quietly solid and been a force to be wrecked with on a weekly basis so far.

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Grade: B

Linebackers

This unit is one of my personal favorites on the team. The production here has been outstanding.

Darron Lee is finally living up the expectations of a first round pick a few years ago. He is flying around the field on a weekly basis and is causing trouble for opposing offenses. He clearly is grasping the defense and is quietly becoming a great NFL linebacker.

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His coverage skills are exceptional, ranking amongst one of the best cover linebackers in the league. He already has 3 interceptions (one for a TD), and constantly is making plays around the field.  He is only getting better and better and his play shows.

Lee’s partner in crime Avery Williamson has been nothing short of fantastic too. He is the thunder to Lee’s lightening, being that plug in the middle blitzing and stopping the run. A free agent acquisition this past summer, has been a great add and one of the best on this defense.

Together, the two have created one of the best duos in the league; which I wanted to give them an A but I just can’t with the lack there of from the Outside Linebacker positions.

Jordan Jenkins has not lived up to expectations from when he was drafted a few years ago. He is just not the dynamic pass rusher they have been looking for, for years. It shows this season with his stats and impact as low as ever.

Brandon Copeland has been solid, much like Jenkins, he has yet to make a big impact in the pass rush that they need. He on the other hand has made some impact in pressures or disrupting plays but nothing that truly stands out.

Overall this unit is another young group that has some potential stars in it. The two guys in the middle are studs and make this defense immensely better on a weekly basis. They alone would make this unit have a grade in the A’s but the outside linebacker group brings them down a lot as a whole. (Please click “Watch on Youtube” after you click play, NFL restricts content use).

Grade: B

Secondary

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This unit has had the most overhaul on the whole team. This past offseason they signed Trumaine Johnson to a huge deal to make him their stud #1 corner. In addition, to the drafting on Perry Nickerson, a talented young corner from Tulane, and retaining Morris Claiborne, who was quietly very productive last year for the Jets. With Buster Skrine and Daryl Roberts rounding out a solid Cornerback group.

This unit has been inconsistent to say the least. One week they’ll shut down the opposing team’s passing game and the next they’ll let up hundreds of yards with ease.

They have caused turnovers at a way more frequent rate than last year which is a huge plus. The Jets secondary has struggled with that in the past but with players like Claiborne making huge impacts; they can alter games.

Like the wide recievers though, this unit has struggled with injuries and it has crippled their performance overall. Trumaine Johnson has missed multiple weeks, and Buster Skrine, their solid slot corner, is out for a while with a concussion. Injuries like these will kill a unit.

It’s resulted in the inconsistencies but clear high potential that these corners have.

One of the best players on this team and most fun to watch is Jamal Adams, their first round pick from LSU in 2017. He has quickly become one of the best safeties in the league.

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He is the heart and soul of this defense, playing with incredible energy every game. He is one of the best at everything he does, whether it be run-stuffing the box, blitzing, or covering; he gets the job done. He is only in year two, and getting better every game and its shown this year with how he’s played. Often being the best on the field.

Marcus Maye is another Jet that has bit the injury bug. Maye was also drafted last year like Adams and has looked like the cornerstone opposite Adams in the secondary. This year, he’s barely played due to injury, though in his games played this year; he’s looked good.

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Overall, this unit has so much talent led by Jamal Adams and Trumaine Johnson. Though injuries have killed this unit and thus its performance. This year they’re in the bottom half of pass defense but that’s because they can’t keep their starters on the field. This unit has the potential to be special once healthy but until then, they’re going to struggle.

 

grade: -B

Special Teams

This unit has by far been the best unit on the team. They have constantly put the Jets in good positions offensively and bad positions for opposing teams.

Lachlan Edwards is an Australian player that the Jets have recruited to the punter role this year and he has been solid pinning opponents back and retaking field advantage when the Jets offense can’t get anything going.

Jason Meyers has been a great additional this offseason, only missing one extra point and one field goal all season so far. He even went 7/7 against the Colts which is a Jets record. His kickoffs have been solid as well, and none have been taken back for a TD.

The last man in this unit has been fantastic returning punts and kicks; his name is Andre Roberts. Roberts constantly is getting good returns and even a TD. He always sets the offense up in great positions to start their drives.

Grade: -A

Coaching

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Todd Bowles has had his job in question this year due to the lack of consistency and discipline from his players oftentimes. The Jets are amongst the leaders in penalties, many of which are unsportsmanlike or just plain stupid penalties that need to be taken care of.

Bowles is no question on the hot seat, especially since many believe his stone-like personality just doesn’t suit being a NFL Head Coach. He needs to step up quickly and keep this team moving forward or he might lose his job really soon.

The coordinators have been up and down as well. Jeremy Bates, the offensive coordinator, started off great in week 1 then quickly started to struggle in the weeks after. Though in the past few weeks, he has seemed to open it up more and create a lot of scoring opportunities for the Jets.

Defensive coordinator, Kacy Rodgers, I believe has done the best job even with an incredible set back in his life. He had a significant health issue that has held him out a few games. Though he seems to be better now, in the games he has coached he has done very well with what he’s had. Every game it seems like the defense is making stops and coached very well from a technical standpoint.

Overall like the team as a whole the coaching staff has been inconsistent. They always have the team ready to play, making no game easy for any opponent. It just seems like sometimes from a schematic standpoint, they can be outmatched.

Grade: C

Summary

Overall this team has been inconsistent from top to bottom. They do great one week, then terrible the next. Their record as it stands is pretty good and in the middle of the pack. I don’t expect them to make a playoff push but for what it is and preseason expectations; this team has done well so far. This is a young and upcoming team with a future star in all the right positions, especially behind center with Sam Darnold. With experience, this team will get better and better and be a true contender sooner than later. A thought Jets fans haven’t had in a while.

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Grade: -B

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