The Problem with The New York Jets


Sophie Ward

A football lying on the field of the New York Jets.

Six weeks into this unique and unprecedented 2020 National Football League (NFL) season, there is one thing that fans know for certain: the New York Jets have hit rock bottom.

After an embarrassing 24-0 shutout loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Jets became the final winless team remaining through Week 6. Absolutely nothing on this team looks good. The offense is incapable of making big plays, let alone calling the right plays. The defense looks like it could be scored on by a middle school football team. Just a year removed from a 7-9 season with a weakened AFC East division, how did the Jets end up in this seemingly bottomless pit of misery?

The biggest problem for this team is the guy calling the shots on the field: Adam Gase. Coined “the smartest guy I know” by legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, Gase was brought in as head coach of the Jets in 2019 to be an offensive guru that was going to turn the young quarterback Sam Darnold into a star. In just his second season as coach, Gase has done nothing but hamper the development of anyone on the team. He turned former All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell into an unproductive talent that no team would even offer a seventh-round pick for. Gase has done the exact opposite for Darnold, not playing him to his strengths and failing to surround him with any protection or weapons. 

It appears that everybody besides the Jets organization understands that Gase needs to go. No offensive mastermind would decide to run up the middle with 37-year-old Frank Gore for three times straight just to punt it away. Gase has destroyed any chance of Darnold progressing as a player, and it is awful to see a kid with the potential that Darnold carries be tormented out on the field. 

How did the Jets not see this coming? Gase coached quarterback Ryan Tannehill in Miami in the years prior to joining the Jets franchise. Tannehill struggled to succeed under Gase’s system. How is Tannehill doing in 2020? With Mike Vrabel and the Tennessee Titans, Tannehill is undefeated and among the top quarterbacks in passing stats through the first six weeks. All it took was an escape from Gase for a quarterback with a slight bit of talent to succeed in the NFL.

You have to feel bad for Darnold. The quarterback was taken third overall in the 2018 Draft, ahead of fellow quarterbacks Josh Allen and reigning MVP Lamar Jackson. Unlike the other quarterbacks who find themselves thriving with their teams, the Jets have done nothing but diminish the talent surrounding their young quarterback. The Jets opted to not bring back leading receiver Robby Anderson, instead signing Buccaneers third string Breshad Perriman for the same annual average. Perriman has just five catches through the first six weeks, while Anderson finds himself second in the NFL in receiving yards, playing in Carolina. 

The Jets tried to bring in offensive line support for Darnold this season, drafting Louisville tackle Mekhi Beckton with the eleventh overall selection in this year’s draft. Although he is not the glamorous skill position player many fans wanted, a strong offensive line is ultimately what the Jets needed. Beckton has fared well so far this season, with the only issue being that he rarely plays. Injuries have kept Beckton on the sideline more often than not this season, and emergency playing time due to injured teammates has not helped him recover. It also helps that Denzel Mims, a wide receiver that the Jets took in the second round this year, has yet to gear up for a game.

Darnold may not be the most skillful quarterback, but he has proven that he possesses explosive talent. Through most of the atrocious content seen in Jets games, Darnold has strung together a series of highlight-worthy plays; these plays would be a lot cooler if the Jets were not down 28-0 in the game.

Only six weeks have been played so far, but it appears to be inevitable that the Jets will end up with next year’s first overall draft selection. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence has been turning heads since his freshman year and appears to be the clear-cut best prospect in the upcoming draft class. The only problem is that the quarterback is not an issue for the Jets: literally everything else is. 

What should the Jets do at #1 should they get the pick? Trading away the pick would likely be the best option. With the hype Lawrence is receiving, the Jets should be able to get a plethora of value in return for the top spot. Top end receivers like Jaylen Waddle and Ja’Mar Chase would be great assets to the offensive arsenal. The Jets could possibly add a running back to help relieve the pressure on Darnold. The last thing they need is another defensive lineman who they will inevitably trade for a late-round pick. 

That is all assuming the Jets finish in last place. It would be typical for the Jets to win a few late season games with no value and harm their draft position, but the talent level on this roster is so low that they probably couldn’t beat a practice squad, let alone another team. 

It is crazy to believe that just six weeks ago, Jet fans were optimistic of a season where their team could potentially compete for the division title. Not even half-way through the season, this team has already been denounced as worse than the winless Lions of 2008. At least the only way the Jets can go is up. Although it will take a painfully long time, and the team will continue to be unbearable, it can only get better from here.