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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / State Of The League: New York Jets

State Of The League: New York Jets

A look ahead to the 2021 New York Jets!
Publish Date: 07/06/2021
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

The NFL Draft and free agency is in our rearview mirrors. There is very little day to day NFL news aside from random minor transactions across the league and conversations about where/when this star player will be traded. The NBA and NHL playoffs are in full swing. Baseball is gearing up for a long, hot summer. The dog days of Summer are upon us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t look down the line at what else the coming summer months hold for us: Training Camp and the NFL preseason. Which leads us to a new feature here on The Grueling Truth – The State Of The League. We will be going over all 32 teams’ offseason, division by division: their player personnel moves, coaching changes, and projected preseason depth charts. Between the beginning of June and the end of July, new team reports will be released every few days. Wrapping up the AFC East, we take a look at the newest era in New York Jets football.


New York Jets Pre-Training Camp Projected Depth Chart

Position Starter Backup
QB Zach Wilson James Morgan
RB Michael Carter Tevin Coleman
FB/TE Trevon Wesco
WR1 Corey Davis Denzel Mims
WR2 Keelan Cole Jamison Crowder
WR3 Elijah Moore Braxton Berrios
TE Tyler Kroft Chris Herndon
LT Mekhi Becton Cameron Clark
LG Alijah Vera-Tucker Dan Feeney
C Connor McGovern Jimmy Murray
RG Greg Van Roten Alex Lewis
RT Morgan Moses George Fant
DE Carl Lawson Vinny Curry
DT Quinnen Williams Nathan Shepherd
DT Sheldon Rankins Folorunso Fatukasi
DE John Franklin-Myers Jabari Zuniga
OLB Blake Cashman Hamsah Nasirildeen
MLB C.J. Mosley
OLB Jarrad Davis Jamien Sherwood
CB1 Bryce Hall Jason Pinnock
CB2 Blessuan Austin Brandin Echols
CB3 Michael Carter III Javelin Guidry
FS Lamarcus Joyner Ashtyn Davis
SS Marcus Maye J.T. Hassell
K Chris Naggar Sam Ficken
P Braden Mann
LS Thomas Hennessy
KR Ty Johnson
PR Braxton Berrios Jamison Crowder

*BOLD player name = Rookie*


New York Jets 2021 NFL Draft Class

Round 1 (2nd overall): QB Zach Wilson, BYU

Round 1 (14th): OG Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC

Round 2 (34th): WR Elijah Moore, Ole Miss

Round 4 (107th): RB Michael Carter, North Carolina

Round 5 (146th): S/LB Jamien Sherwood, Auburn

Round 5 (154th): CB Michael Carter II, Duke

Round 5 (175th): CB Jason Pinnock, Pittsburgh

Round 6 (186th): S/LB Hamsah Nasirildeen, Florida State

Round 6 (200th): CB Brandin Echols, Kentucky

Round 6 (207th): DL Jonathan Marshall, Arkansas


New York Jets Offseason Player Personnel Moves

Expired Contracts
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Info / Notes
Brian Poole CB 29 NYJ
Bradley McDougald SS 31 NYJ
Patrick Onwuasor ILB 29 NYJ
Frank Gore RB 38 NYJ
Bryce Hager ILB 29 NYJ
Kyron Brown CB 25 NYJ
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Acquired via
Carl Lawson DE 26 CIN NYJ Free Agency
Corey Davis WR 26 TEN NYJ Free Agency
Morgan Moses RT 30 WSH NYJ Free Agency
Sheldon Rankins DT 27 NO NYJ Free Agency
Keelan Cole WR 28 JAX NYJ Free Agency
Tyler Kroft TE 29 BUF NYJ Free Agency
LaMarcus Joyner S 30 LV NYJ Free Agency
Jarrad Davis LB 27 DET NYJ Free Agency
Vinny Curry DE 33 PHI NYJ Free Agency
Tevin Coleman RB 28 SF NYJ Free Agency
Justin Hardee CB 27 NO NYJ Free Agency
Dan Feeney G 27 LAC NYJ Free Agency
Del’Shawn Phillips LB 25 BUF NYJ Free Agency
Ronald Blair DE 28 SF NYJ Free Agency
Sharrod Neasman S 30 ATL NYJ Free Agency
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Departed via
Henry Anderson DE 30 NYJ NE Released
Breshad Perriman WR 28 NYJ DET Free Agency
Jordan Jenkins OLB 27 NYJ HOU Free Agency
Pat Elflein G 27 NYJ CAR Free Agency
Tarell Basham OLB 27 NYJ DAL Free Agency
Joe Flacco QB 36 NYJ PHI Free Agency
Frankie Luvu LB 25 NYJ CAR Free Agency
Josh Andrews C 30 NYJ ATL Free Agency
Matthias Farley SS 29 NYJ TEN Free Agency
Harvey Langi ILB 29 NYJ NE Free Agency
Arthur Maulet CB 28 NYJ PIT Free Agency
Neville Hewitt ILB 28 NYJ HOU Free Agency
Ross Travis TE 28 NYJ ARZ Free Agency
Trevon Coley DT 27 NYJ TEN Free Agency
Player Position Age 2020 Team 2021 Team Info / Notes
Marcus Maye FS 27 NYJ NYJ
Josh Adams RB 25 NYJ NYJ
Vyncint Smith WR 25 NYJ NYJ
Jeff Smith WR 24 NYJ NYJ
Bennett Jackson CB 30 NYJ NYJ
Daniel Brown TE 29 NYJ NYJ


New York Jets Offseason Review

The Adam Gase era has finally ended, and with it goes all the bad play calling and bad juju this team has had over the past couple of seasons. The franchise now dives into another reset with a new head coach and an empowered front office. Now that Gase is out of town, general manager Joe Douglas will finally have the input and power he needs to have as GM. New head coach Robert Saleh comes over from San Francisco with a fresh, energetic approach and is more into overseeing the entire operation rather than being involved with just one side of the ball. He brought over 49ers passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur, a rising star in the coaching ranks and brother of Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, to be the play caller/offensive coordinator and install their version of the west coast offense. Jeff Ulbrich was brought in after being interim defensive coordinator in Atlanta to run the defense and install the new 4-3 attack. 

Gase failed to develop former 3rd overall pick Sam Darnold and failed to surround him with sufficient talent. This is part of the reason why both are now in different places. Gase is reportedly coaching in high school, while Darnold was traded to the Carolina Panthers for three draft picks (including a 2nd round pick in 2022). The team decided it was time for a fresh start, and after dealing Darnold, the team had settled on selecting BYU quarterback Zach Wilson 2nd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Wilson had a meteoric rise between the end of the college season and the NFL Draft. He showed off his arm strength on his pro day, and has all the potential in the world to be the franchise quarterback the Jets have needed. His improvisational skills, arm strength, and throwing on the run are impressive, but can get him into trouble when he tries to do too much. Zach Wilson is more Aaron Rodgers than he is Lamar Jackson with his scrambling/pocket movement, as he doesn’t look to run right away and he is always looking downfield trying to make a play. Few NFL quarterbacks can make the type of plays like Wilson did at BYU, and Wilson will be the week one starter pending injury or something unforeseen. 

With Douglas seeing what happened with Darnold first hand, Gang Green made it a point to make sure that they wouldn’t make the same mistakes with Wilson. The Jets spent a ton of resources this offseason on building the offense at all levels to give their new rookie quarterback a legit chance. They could very well have new starters at every skill position, and will have a couple of new starters on the offensive line. After the team selected Wilson, they traded up in the 1st round to select guard Alijah Vera-Tucker to shore up the protection up front. Vera-Tucker is rock solid in pass protection, was the starter at left tackle last season for USC, and has starting experience at both guard and tackle. For the Jets, he will line up at left guard next to last year’s 1st round standout Mekhi Becton. Morgan Moses was recently signed as a free agent after his release by Washington. Moses started every game at right tackle for Washington since 2015, and will provide the veteran steadiness previously missing from this line. 

Darnold failed here due to a number of reasons, but the lack of talent around him was a big issue. Signing receivers Corey Davis (3 years, $37.5M) and Keelan Cole in free agency, and the drafting of Elijah Moore in the 2nd round of the Draft add starting quality depth at the position the team hasn’t had in years. Davis is coming off of a career year in Tennessee, just missing one thousand yards, and looks like the default WR1 coming off minor injury heading into training camp. Cole worked the outside during minicamp while Davis was out, and impressed. Moore looked electric during minicamp, and will be a player to watch as a potential starter on both the outside and in the slot. Both players will be competing with holdovers Mims and Crowder for two starting roles, with Berrios providing depth in the slot and on special teams. Mims should be competing for the outside starting spot opposite Davis, but will have to improve his route running and prove he is more than just a big, jump ball deep threat.

The Jets didn’t just stop at upgrading the talent at receiver and along the offensive line, they added likely starters at tight end and running back too. The tight end position has lacked a difference maker for years, and while the addition of Tyler Kroft isn’t some special move that’s going to scare opposing defenses, it still counts as an upgrade. The team has been waiting for Chris Herndon to live up to his potential, but so far haven’t gotten the kind of production they were hoping for. Kroft is a solid all-around tight end, but has dealt with injuries, so this will be a position battle to watch in camp. The running back spot will look very different this season as well. Gone is the ancient Frank Gore, replaced by a couple of backs that will likely head a committee approach. Tevin Coleman was brought in as a free agent from San Francisco, and he brings familiarity in this zone rushing scheme to his new club. Coleman has been a solid rotational back throughout his career, but has trouble staying on the field – including missing eight games in 2020. Michael Carter was drafted in the 4th round to be plugged into this rotation and should be the third down back right away. He was excellent in college, showing the burst, balance, and vision needed to thrive in this style offense. New York will lean heavily on its ground game to help take the pressure off of Wilson, and the combo of Coleman/Carter will be key. 

It wasn’t all about the offense and Wilson, however. The defense was pretty average last season, but should be a lot better with the addition of Saleh and some solid veteran additions this offseason. Free agent additions Carl Lawson, Sheldon Rankins, Jarrad Davis, and Vinny Curry should all see significant playing time for the Jets, and could all slide in as starters. Lawson (3 years, $45M) was the big get, and is a fantastic fit in this defense. Rankins and young stud Quinnen Williams will be a solid interior duo – if healthy. Both missed time last season due to injury, but both will be a full go for training camp. Lawson is definitely going to start, while Curry will likely be a rotational piece. Both are steady veterans and solid versus the run, but aren’t likely to produce huge sack numbers. 

The defensive front will feature a solid rotation, but the back seven has more questions than answers. CJ Mosley has played in just two games the past two seasons – two games played in 2019 before missing all of 2020 due to Covid opt-out. Will he come back to be the dominant force he was in the middle of the defense that he was in Baltimore? Can Blake Cashman remain healthy after his third shoulder surgery? Will more speed at linebacker in the form of Davis, and college safeties Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen be enough to help this woeful unit get better in coverage against tight ends and running backs? The talent is there for new defensive coordinator and former NFL linebacker Jeff Ulbrich to work with, but training camp and preseason will be very important to sort things out. 

The secondary underwent massive changes as well, and also leaves a lot to be desired. The team is absolutely set at safety, with Marcus Maye back in the fold and free agent addition LaMarcus Joyner locked into starting roles. Joyner hopes to play better and make more of an impact than he did in Las Vegas now that he will be at safety full time again. The big questions in the secondary lie at corner, where the team lacks a difference maker and will have to sort through a lot of bodies in training camp. As of now, Bryce Hall and Blessuan Austin are likely the starters on the outside, as Saleh prefers longer corners in his defense, but neither can be considered a “sure thing” at this time. Both struggled last year, and the team could stand to add another veteran off the street – they were reluctant to spend at the position in free agency. The only “improvements” at corner were in the form of late round rookies. Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols were drafted in the 5th and 6th rounds, and will all be vying for playing time right away – mostly because the Jets don’t have any other proven options. Of the three, Carter will likely be seeing the most playing time early on, as he had a solid minicamp and goes into training camp locked in a battle for the starting nickel role with speedy holdover Javelin Guidry.

Gang Green has a new rookie quarterback in Wilson, a ton of new faces on both sides of the ball, and new hope that this team is finally back on the path to relevance. In year one of the Saleh/Wilson era, however, it’s all about building the program up and showing improvement every Sunday – AKA a full blown rebuild. This is still one of the worst teams on paper, but New York Jets faithful see the light at the end of the tunnel, and are hoping this is the foundation for a return to prominence. An appearance in the postseason for the first time in over a decade, however, is still out of reach in a tough and improving division.

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