Written By Jose Rohdin
The New York Jets have a lot of cap space and a lot of holes or their roster. This free agency, the team added a lot of talent and scheme-fitting players.
The Jets are looking to hit the reset button, bringing in first-time Head Coach Robert Saleh. Saleh, was the defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and spearheaded the defense that went to the Super Bowl two seasons ago. By contrast, the Jets’ defense last season was just not good, allowing the ninth most yards and the seventh most points in the NFL, Saleh will be tasked with turning that around.
So far, the Jets have gotten right to it by retooling their defense with talent that will fit Saleh’s defensive system. The Jets signed pass rusher Carl Lawson, who looks like he will play the Nick Bosa role for Saleh on the Jets, primarily going after the quarterback.
Lawson only started 11 games for the Cincinnati Bengals last season, but he led the team in sacks at 5.5 and QB hits at 32. Lawson has the talent to get to the quarterback with ease, but it will be made even easier with the signing of Sheldon Rankins. Rankins weighs in at a hefty 302 pounds and will eat up middle offensive linemen, clearing up Lawson’s space to work the edges.
Rankins has been struggling with injuries the last two seasons, but in 2018, his last healthy season, he started all 16 games for the New Orleans Saints, and had eight sacks with 15 QB hits. These two signings don’t just add talent to the Jets’ defensive line, but will also create space for the Jets’ last season sack-and-QB-hit leader Quinnen Williams, who had seven sacks and 14 QB hits, to have more room to operate as one of the best young defensive linemen in the league.
The Jets made an effort and spent big money to improve their defensive line, and the team also made intelligent moves to raise the talent across the rest of the defense. The signing of inside linebacker Jarrad Davis was brilliant, as someone who will fit right into the defense Saleh wants to play. Davis last season had a rough time, only starting in 4 out of the 14 games he played in.
It seemed that Davis had fallen out of favor while with the Detroit Lions and would look to restart his career with the Jets. At his best in the 2018 season, Davis recorded 100 combined tackles, ten tackles for loss, and six sacks. Look for Davis to be used very similarly to Fred Warner from the 49ers, as the clean-up man in the middle of the field covering running backs and tight ends and exploding into gaps in the run game.
Similar to Davis, Lamarcus Joyner’s career has taken a dip over the last two seasons. After playing one year on the franchise tag for the Los Angeles Rams, Joyner decided to leave the Rams and join the Raiders. Joyner only started in 16 out of the 24 games that he played for the Raiders in his two seasons. The Jets already franchised tagged free safety Marcus Maye for the season, and if Joyner can recapture some of his younger self, that safety combination could go very well together.
The Jets’ offense was even worse than its defense, ranking last in yards and scoring in the entire NFL. With Mike LaFleur as the new offensive coordinator, expect the offense to be very similar to his brothers’ up in Green Bay. The Jets needed more offensive weapons to run that type of offense, and they signed wide receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole.
Both are solid wide receivers, but have been number-two options their entire careers. Neither have ever reached over 1,000 yards in a season or 70 receptions. However, both are incredibly talented and will look to elevate their game as they will definitely be given more targets as the primary offensive weapons in LaFleur’s system.
The Jets used their money wisely and signed players that fit in with the new coaches’ schemes. They will plan to continue to retool and rebuild going into the draft.