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Grading the 2020 NY Jets’ Position Groups

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The New York Jets capped off a disastrous season with a 28-14 loss to their long-time rivals, the New England Patriots. Gang Green’s season was one of their worst in recent memory, with a record of 2-14 on the year. Their abysmal performance couldn’t even land them the first-overall pick, which was awarded to the Jacksonville Jaguars. Head Coach Adam Gase would be fired within four weeks of defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ termination, as the fledgling Jets attempt to rid themselves of what they perceive has made them a league-wide laughing stock. In this article, I will break down how the Jets positional groups did this season and grade their performance after 17 weeks of pain and turmoil.

Offense: C-
When Adam Gase was hired as Head Coach of the New York Jets, then-General Manager Mike Macagnan believed he would be the one to unlock sophomore Quarterback Sam Darnold’s untapped potential. Gase was tasked with transforming the lethargic and tedious Todd Bowles offense into a unit that was more dynamic and calibrated. However, in Gase’s second season with the team, the offense was anything but. Unfortunately, Sam Darnold was not developing the way that management had hoped. Gase and company did not refine their offense to suit his strengths and thus, squandered his potential. The receivers could not create any separation from opposing cornerbacks to assist Darnold downfield, and short passes were often thwarted by poor blocking and poor acceleration off the line from the receivers. Darnold is not immune to criticism either, as the USC product too often fired ill-conceived passes and took too long to make a decision. The run game was not any better, relying too heavily upon the aging Frank Gore, whose speed had severely declined at age 37. The offensive line had trouble executing run schemes, making Gore’s gains few and far between. The lone bright spots on offense this season were rookie Offensive Tackle Mekhi Becton and Wide Receiver Jameson Crowder.

Defense: C
While the defense was slightly better, the unit was nothing to write home about. To start with the positives, the Jets allowed the 12th least rush yards while facing the 9th most rushing attempts this season. This statistic can mainly be attributed to the underrated defensive line featuring Quiennen Williams, Folorunso Fatukasi, Henry Anderson, and John Franklin-Meyers. However, without the presence of reliable edge-rushers, the Jets were unable to halt the run for much longer and had absolutely no answer for the pass. New York allowed the 5th most aerial yards, with an embarrassing 34 touchdowns, just from passing. Gang Green relied heavily on inexperienced cornerbacks to match up against pro-bowl caliber wide receivers. Lamar Jackson, Bless Austin, and Bryce Hall were routinely over-matched and subsequently out-played in coverage. Even Marcus Maye, who had a spectacular year as the team’s MVP, couldn’t save the secondary once their opponent began to exploit these matchups.

Special teams: B
The Jets’ offensive woes gave way to the special teams unit to have a quietly strong season. The added pressure that more appearances usually has on that cohort seemingly did not affect their performance. Punter Braden Mann boasted a respectable 43.9 average yards per punt on a league-leading 82 punts. Kicker Sam Ficken had a strong year, splitting the uprights on 13 of his 15 attempts, making all of his attempts below 50 yards. Backup kicker Sergio Castillo also saw some reps after Ficken fell victim to an injury. His performance was much less inspiring, going 8 for 13 on field goals, showing inconsistency throughout his stint with the team.