The New York Jets are a bad football team. But you didn’t need to click on this article to know that—you probably could have clicked on literally any article and known that.
Winless on the year at 0-8, it appears the Jets are in for a total rebuild. The path they’re on is surely going to lead to an entirely new coaching staff, and perhaps a lot of new front office pieces, as well. I believe general manager Joe Douglas will be safe from the firing squad (I mean that in the literal sense of people getting fired, not the other meaning of the phrase), at least for the next year. But it will be an uphill climb to salvage this organization.
Over the last six or seven months, the Jets have moved on from some of their most talented players. Their star defensive asset and face of the franchise, safety Jamal Adams, is now in Seattle, their prized free agent acquisition of 2019, running back Le’Veon Bell, is now on the Kansas City Chiefs, and the player they should have prioritized in their own backyard last offseason, wide receiver Robby Anderson, is now with the Carolina Panthers and is playing like a top-10 receiver, production-wise.
The Jets have not done a very good job building around some of their best players (including quarterback Sam Darnold, who I think is done in New York), but amidst the disaster of a season, there is some hope. This Jets roster, while one of the worst in the league top to bottom, is not completely devoid of talent. There are a handful of players this team would be wise to invest in as their foundational pieces moving forward.
Left Tackle Mekhi Becton
In a year where it feels like there hasn’t been much of a silver lining to point to, the Jets’ No. 11 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton, has been fantastic. In his 283 snaps at left tackle, Becton has only surrendered three sacks. He’s also only allowed 10 total pressures. While manning the edge against Chiefs pass-rusher Frank Clark this past weekend, Becton yielded just two pressures. He also had his fair share of success against Chris Jones.
Bottom line is, Becton is a player you build around. The rest of the offensive line isn’t there yet, but they have the most important piece of their O-line figured out.
Defensive Tackle Quinnen Williams
After a whirlwind of rumors that were filled with speculation about Williams potentially being on the trade block just a year after the team drafted him No. 3 overall, it appears he’s not going anywhere. And that’s a good thing—the best thing, really.
Williams was one of the most dominant players in college football during the 2019 season. His 19.5 tackles for loss and eight sacks didn’t even do his full presence justice, as he was often the driving force that allowed other players around him to succeed, too.
Williams didn’t have the best rookie season. He spent most of the year learning that trench play in the NFL is a bigger, faster, stronger kind of environment than it was in college. But now that he has those reps under his belt, we’re seeing him get into a groove in his sophomore year. He has been stout against the run and has flashed some of that pass-rush production that made his name at Alabama. He will continue to get better, and it should be as a member of the Jets.
Wide Receiver Denzel Mims
Becton wasn’t the only redeemable player from the Jets’ 2020 NFL Draft class. Second-round pick Denzel Mims was hurt for the team's first six games, but in the two he has played in recently, he’s looked like he belongs in the league.
Mims saw seven targets, catching four for 42 receiving yards in his first game, then three targets and two catches for another 42 yards this past weekend. When it came time for the Jets to open up their playbook on second down, Mims was the man they went to against the Chiefs on their biggest occasion for 27 yards.
It’s just been two games, but Mims should be here to stay.
Safety Marcus Maye and Linebacker C.J. Mosely
I put these two in a singular category because where it’s typical to highlight younger players when you talk about building blocks, you need some veteran pieces that stick around for the transition.
Marcus Maye should be one of those players. He was the running mate on the back end to what Jamal Adams was able to do all over the field. Adams was a chess piece for the Jets defense, and the reason why they were able to have that kind of flexibility is due to how well Maye played in the free safety role.
As for Mosely, he has only suited up for two games in a Jets uniform. He injured his groin in 2019, which forced him to miss almost the entire season, and hasn’t played at all this year due to opting out over COVID concerns. When Mosley signed, he signed as one of the top linebackers in the league. The next time Mosley laces his cleats for the Jets will be in 2021. Let’s hope he’s still the linebacker they thought they were signing back in 2019. If he is, they’ll need him to be a reliable player in the middle of that growing defense.
Those are just five of the names I wanted to highlight. It’s not like those are the only five players worth keeping around, however. Players like Brian Poole, La’Mical Perine, and Jamison Crowder will be nice roster pieces as well. But as the Jets begin to look beyond the 2020 season, those are some names to focus on and lock in for 2021 and beyond.