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A look at what’s happening around the New York Jets:
1. Review of the DE market: The double hit at the defensive end – first Carl Lawson, then Vinny Curry – puts the Jets in an extremely enviable situation. They are desperate for help in a position where there is not much league-wide inventory and you know what that means: the cost of trading trades through the roof.
Still, Jets general manager Joe Douglas needs to do something before the NFL regular season 2021 begins. Coach Robert Saleh cannot be expected to run his defensive system based on pressure front-four when the top defensive ends are John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff and Ronnie Blair. Combined career bags: 20.5.
“It’s always easy to play the fictional game, ‘Let’s go and get someone,’ but the reality is [it’s] few and far between in terms of what is available, “Saleh said. Now Joe and his staff are apparently working relentlessly, always trying to look at the roster and always communicating. “
That was the answer you would expect from a coach when Saleh was not raising a “Help Wanted” sign. It would hurt their bargaining power. Douglas, who has made 11 player trades in 26 months on the job, wants to trade. The question is whether he can find a match? Let us study paths they can pursue:
– The knowledge route: Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich came from the San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons, respectively, so these are great places to start. The 49ers have excellent depth on the edge, but the only backups Saleh coached are Dee Ford and Alex Barrett. Ford is a big name and affordable ($ 4 million in 2021). He has struggled with injuries and has not been a good player since 2019, but he had a strong camp.
The name in Atlanta is Dante Fowler Jr. ($ 6 million) that took a pay cut after a huge deal in 2020. Saleh also knows Fowler from their time with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is Falcon’s by far best pass-rusher, which makes a trade seem unlikely. If they are willing to listen, the request price would be high, perhaps another round of draft elections. The one Douglas connection that springs up is the Philadelphia Eagles’ Derek Barnett ($ 990,000), a moderately productive player who will be a free agent.
– Underperforming high choices: Desperate teams often look like this and think they can revive a player with a change of scenery. Players who fall into this category are Las Vegas Raiders’ Clelin Ferrell (two years, $ 8.1 million), Green Bay Packers’ Rashan Gary (two years, $ 4.6 million), Houston Texans’ Shaq Lawson ( two years, $ 9.8 million) and Baltimore Ravens Jaylon Ferguson (two years, $ 2.8 million).
– A sleeper: If they act, there’s a good chance it’s coming from here – a young and affordable player, someone they think has up. It will not be a well-known name that will disappoint fans, but satisfy the organization’s desire to build long-term. We’re talking about someone like the Tampa Bay Buccaneers outside linebacker Cam Gill who dressed for all four postseason games last year and recorded a half sack in Super Bowl LV but was jumped on the depths map in 2021 in the first round of draft picks Joe tryon.
– A dissatisfied star: There is a lot of media speculation about the Arizona Cardinals’ Chandler Jones wanting an extension. Jones has 97 career sacks, but there is no way Douglas will trade a premium asset for a 31-year-old who earns $ 15.5 million in the final year of his deal.
2. Jets store on Lawson: Mark Gastineau, the best cantrusher in the Jets’ franchise history, told ESPN he was “crushed” by Lawson’s season-ending Achilles bride. Gastineau participated in the first preseason game, and even though Lawson played a few snaps, he saw enough to make him believe Lawson was ready for a big season.
“He could have been close to my sack record,” said Gastineau, who once held the NFL record with 22 sacks in a season (1984). “Who knows? He might have gotten it. I want him to beat it. Records are made to be beaten.
“His first two steps remind me so much of me. His start is just as incredible.”
Gastineau shared an eye contact moment with Lawson before the match. When Lawson spotted Gastineau in the stands behind the Jets’ bench, he clasped his hands and bowed his head. He knows Gastineau’s place in history; he mentioned him recently by name at a press conference.
“It was really nice,” Gastineau said of the pre-game.
3. Walk (very) green: Saleh said he expects to field a “ridiculously young team.” Based on my 53-man list projection for the Jets’ opening day, they will have 19 rookies and sophomores.
4. No risk-it, no biscuits: Most young quarterbacks spit the programmed answer back when asked how they decide where to throw the ball: Take what the defense gives you. Rookie Zach Wilson made another bid.
“There will always be risk, it’s just a matter of understanding when to take the risk,” Wilson said. “Turning the ball is never a good thing, but if you have zero turnover, but you also have zero explosive games, you don’t win games either.”
Is it a winning approach? I did a little research and checked the stats for quarterbacks trying to throw 20 plus yards into tight windows (less than a yard separation). These are risky passports, right? According to the NFL Next Gen Stats, the players with the most attempts last season were in the category of Tampa Bay’s Tom Brady (30) and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Justin Herbert (27) – an absolutely amazing and a young star. It obviously worked for them.
People who embrace Wilson because of his aggressive approach need to remember the point where he throws an interception when he tries to push one in – and there will be interceptions. In fact, Brady was picked up twice in his 30 throws, but he was also averaging 37 yards per carry. Completion.
5. Upstairs, downstairs: It will be interesting to see how offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur is deployed in the normal season. He spent all three fights calling plays from the sidelines, which was not the original plan. Wilson likes when LaFleur is on the sidelines because they can squeeze between series, but he said he does not mind if LaFleur prefers to be upstairs to get a better overview of the field.
The addition of senior offensive assistant Matt Cavanaugh, who replaces the late Greg Knapp, gives LaFleur the freedom to call play from the box. Cavanaugh can be the smart head on the court, something any rookie quarterback should have. Quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese also has a role, but he is far less experienced than Cavanaugh, who played in the league and has coached for three decades.
The location of the game is a personal choice for playcallers. I spoke recently with former NFL coach Todd Haley and he told me he always liked being on the sidelines, in the middle of the chaos, so he could interact with players. He said one of his mentors, Dan Henning, preferred the calm, sterile atmosphere in the box.
6. From video games to real life: It’s always interesting when young players mention the Madden video game as their connection to the NFL in their younger years. It came the other day when rookie linebacker Jamien Sherwood mentioned how it was through Madden that he made the acquaintance of (now teammate) CJ Mosley.
“I used to play with him at Madden when he was at Ravens,” Sherwood said. “So when I finally got to meet him, you know, I just thought it was crazy because he was really fast in the game – and it turned out out there. He has true instincts.”
Now Sherwood, who has replaced the injured Jarrad Davis on away linebacker, is lined up along Mosley in the 4-3 base front.