When Joe Douglas was hired he was given a team devoid of talent, full of bad contracts, and aging players. He has spent the last three years trading anything that has value, cutting bloated contracts, and replacing age with youth all over the roster. The first chapter of Joe Douglas’s Career as The New York Jets GM has come to a close with this past draft. No longer do the Jets have a plethora of picks but no longer do they also have massive wholes up and down the roster. So the question becomes, is the New York Jets Win-Now window open?
What Is This Roster Still Missing?
To properly discuss if the Jets should go into a Win-Now mode we need to talk about this current team and what holes this roster still has and to be honest this team doesn’t have very many wholes at all. The real thing the New York Jets have are question marks. Up and down the roster at KEY roles and positions, the Jets have relatively young and unknown commodities. While as fans and as a staff we believe in those players we need to talk about them and what it means for how we move forward as an organization.
The Defensive Core
Joe Douglas and The New York Jets Front Office have done a great job of getting and keeping important players to make up what will become this defensive core for the next 10 to 15 years. With the expected resigning of Quinnen Williams and the extension of Jonathan Franklyn-Meyers, the drafting of major upside players like Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner and Jermaine Johnson II, to going out and signing proven but still young talents like Jordan Whitehead, D.J. Reed, and Carl Lawson. The core of this team is in safe hands.
The 3 Big Question Marks In The Linebacker Room
The Question mark at defense becomes the Linebacker room. With C.J. Mosley getting up there in age with a bad contract and two key contributors being on 1-year contracts in Marcell Haris and Kwon Alexander, you have to wonder what will the Jets Linebacker room look like in years to come. We have promising talents in Jamien Sherwood, Hamsah Nasirildeen, and Quincy Williams but are these guys the future of this Linebacker room?
Jamien Sherwood showed a lot of promise last year before getting injured. We saw him take snaps at MLB and be a solid contributor in both the run support and coverage for a few games. He did show signs of struggle but being a safety converted to Linebacker this was to be expected when starting in such a difficult role within Robert Saleh’s Scheme. We need to see Jamien get more reps and stay healthy to start to get an answer on him. I project that Jamien has the potential to be a high-level starter and contributor for this team.
Hamsah Nasirildeen has always been an interesting player in my eyes. Since the draft, everything I hear about this kid is that he is a team player and a great locker room presence. These are underrated traits but essential to have on your team. He was also a player that showed a lot of flashes of potential at Florida State. The biggest problem with Hamsah stemming from his days at Florida State was his inability to stay healthy. Hamsah has suffered injuries over the last 3 years of his playing career. We need Hamsah to give us a full year of healthy play to see what he is. My Prediction is that he will ultimately be a backup/special teamer. With so much time missed due to injury, it’s hard to imagine him getting caught up to speed and playing a meaningful role.
Quincy Williams is the most intriguing player in the linebacker room because of how we got him as well as his upside in this scheme. Since being picked up off the Jaguars Practice squad after week 1 Quincy started in or played a majority of snaps in every game after that. Quincy showed us immediately what he brought to the table and what he needed work on. Week in and week out we saw Quincy lay down some BIG hits and be a contributing force in the Run stopping. He also showed us that he wasn’t a good coverage Linebacker either. With him going into year two of this scheme we need to see more from him in coverage and less reckless and wild penalties. My prediction is Quincy becomes a rotational Will Linebacker. He has all the tools to be great it is just about putting them together.
Safety and Interior Defensive Lineman
After talking about Quinnen Willaims in a previous article you can read here and Jordan Whitehead above, you would expect the Saftey Room and Interior Defensive Line to be taken care of. You need to remember that the team has 2 safety spots and someone needs to line up next to Quinnen. While we have the answer in the short term for both those spots we don’t know what we will be looking at long term at Free Saftey or the other Interior Defensiveline position.
In regards to Free safety, I believe we have the answer in-house with Jason Pinnock. He showed so much potential and ability in the last 4 games of the year at Free Saftey and with a whole year to learn behind Joyner, I expect him to step into the Free Saftey role next year and be a big contributor. Read about the safety position battle here! Now in regards to Interior Defensive Lineman, I hope to see Solomon Thomas play a big role and I really hope to see Michael Clemons, the Jets’ fourth-round pick, step up and play a similar role to Jonathan Franklyn-Meyers. Read more about Michael Clemons here and the Defensive line position battle here!
The Offensive Core
The offensive side of the ball is by far the better unit on the New York Jets. Joe Douglas has spent a ton of high-end draft capital addressing this side of the ball and has filled this team with bright spots up and down the roster. From new rookies like Garret Wilson and Breece Hall to Veteran acquisitions like Duane Brown and Laken Tomlinson, this offense is full of talent. That doesn’t stop them from having question marks at certain spots.
The Offensive Tackle Situation
It shouldn’t surprise anyone when I say the Jets have an Offensive Tackle problem. Going into this year we expected Mekhi Becton to play a big role on the line and he went out for the season before ever seeing a snap. His replacement, Duane Brown, while a former bro-bowl level Tackle is going to be 37 going into this next year. Brown’s addition to the team also forced us to move starting Left Tackle George Fant over to Right Tackle to accommodate for Brown. We also can’t forget that Fant ended his year with a knee injury and the expectation that he will be available all year seems a bit naive. While we have the answers to Tackle in the short term, what does this team do moving forward?
My expectation is that Geoge Fant is playing his last year in New York in Gotham Green. With a player that has been in the league this long and only showing us one year of adequate Tackle play at 30 years of age, I don’t expect this front office to shell out the type of money Fant would want. PFF and other player ranking sites have not been kind to Fant and I understand why. With a player like Orlando Brown Jr. slated to hit the open market who is younger and has shown a much higher level of play, Duane Brown being given a two-year contract as George Fant insurance, a promising young talent like Max Mitchell in the wings developing into a starting Right Tackle in my eyes, and lots of promising Tackles in this years draft coming up, we shouldn’t be in a rush to extend Fant!
The Biggest Question Mark On The Roster
The biggest factor of whether or not this team is in win-now mode depends on what you think of former Number 2 overall pick Zach Wilson. Everyone who watches football knows that the team lives and dies with the Quarterback. I won’t try and convince you that he is the guy or he isn’t. Most Jets Fans already have their opinions and trying to change people’s minds on Zach seems like a waste of time so I will pose this question to you here at the end. Is Zach Wilson THE GUY? If the answer is yes then let’s go win a Super Bowl!