The New York Jets showed signs of life last season. They won seven games and went 6-2 in the second half of the campaign. Looking ahead to the 2020 schedule, expectations are rising for the Jets. Can they take flight in 2020 and become a contender in the AFC? We’ve got some predictions.
It’s probably a make-or-break year for head coach Adam Gase. He was brought in to be the quarterback whisperer to young Sam Darnold. Now, they both have to live up to the hype and lead this team to a winning season.
Jets tried to shore up weaknesses with 2020 free-agent signings
It’s debatable whether the Jets actually found a solution to their offensive line woes in free agency. But kudos to the team for trying. They landed offensive tackle George Fant, center Connor McGovern and guard Greg Van Roten this offseason to shore up Darnold’s protection. They also landed a deep threat for their franchise quarterback with Breshad Perriman, who is coming off a career year and could be a huge addition.
Though, the biggest add may be a player who doesn’t gobble up the snaps. Veteran running back Frank Gore is one of the best pass-blocking backs in the league. He’s also a leader and can still produce on the ground.
What picks did the Jets have in 2020? Notable draft selections
Gang Green made nine selections during the 2020 NFL Draft. They added impact players in the first two rounds with players who could be starters in 2020. They also made a savvy mid-round pick that could pay dividends this coming season. Notably, the Jets landed cornerback Bryce Hall (Round 5), who could be one of the biggest steals this year.
Here’s a look at the players we liked the best.
First round: Mekhi Becton, offensive tackle, Louisville
This physical freak has All-Pro potential. He was one of the biggest stars of the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine due to his incredible 40 time (watch here). Becton is massive. At 6-foot-7 and 364 pounds, he’s a veritable giant. Better yet, he plays with tremendous athleticism and agility. He also has a penchant for rag-dolling dudes like you wouldn’t believe.
Second round: Denzel Mims, wide receiver, Baylor
Consistency is the biggest issue. If Mims can prove his dropsies are behind him, he could be one of the best receivers to come out of this draft class. When he’s on, Mims is outrageously difficult to contain. He makes incredibly difficult receptions under pressure and has outstanding lateral agility. He could quickly become a primary weapon for Darnold in 2020.
Fourth round: La’Mical Perine, running back, Florida
Don’t be surprised if Perine ends up taking on a significant role sooner, rather than later for the Jets. Le’Veon Bell is the starter. Period. But Perine comes into the NFL with some enticing traits that could lead to Bell being ousted after the 2020 campaign.
Fifth round: Bryce Hall, cornerback, Virginia
If not for a season-ending ankle injury and the COVID-19 pandemic, Hall might have been an early Day 2 pick. Extremely talented, this young cornerback brings toughness and sharp instincts to the NFL. He is also one of the best ball hawks to enter the 2020 NFL Draft and led the nation with 21 passes defended in 2018.
Jets 2020 roster review by position shows team still has holes to fill
There are still some areas of weakness on the New York Jets’ roster, but this team has enticing talent on both sides of the ball. Here’s how the roster breaks down by position.
Quarterback: This is Sam Darnold’s team. There’s no doubt about that. The former USC star has sparkled at times in two seasons and clearly has the skill required to lead an NFL franchise. Whether he can take the next step and lead the Jets to the playoffs is the question.
Running back: Coming off a brutal 2019 season, Le’Veon Bell faces significant competition. Remember, Frank Gore beat out LeSean McCoy in Buffalo last summer. He’s as reliable as they come and will be a big help to Darnold in passing situations. La’Mical Perine joins a crowded group of reserves and could carve out a minor role as a rookie.
Wide receiver: It’s going to be fascinating to see what this group does in 2020. The Jets are looking at an all-new starting lineup. Perriman joins Sims, slot receiver Jamison Crowder and former first-round bust Josh Doctson, but it remains to be seen if New York has a group capable of producing on Sundays.
Tight end: Chris Herndon is being looked at as a potential star. The Athletic’s Connor Hughes recently wrote that the Jets “can’t wait to unleash Chris Herndon” this season. Behind him, veteran Ryan Griffin caught five touchdowns last year and should continue to be a key player.
Offensive line: Undeniably a weakness in 2019, the Jets’ offensive line has a chance to be much improved in 2020. Pencil in the rookie Becton at left tackle. Veteran Brian Winters continues to anchor the right guard spot. Newcomers Connor McGovern and George Fant will also enter the season as starters. This unit will likely make or break the Jets’ offense in 2020.
Defensive line: Anchored by last year’s third overall pick, Quinnen Williams, New York’s defensive line is nothing if not stout. Williams is joined by stud nose tackle Steve McLendon and veteran Henry Anderson on the Jets’ 3-4 front. Behind them is a competitive group that will push for rotational playing time.
Linebacker: The Jets have to hope inside linebacker C.J. Mosley can rebound from his season-ending injury to become a star. He was a prized free agent last offseason and leads what could be a dynamic linebacking corps. Jordan Jenkins has been great off the edge, and he still has room to grow.
Secondary: All-Pro Jamal Adams is a do-it-all star. He leads a hard-hitting secondary group that has the potential to make huge strides in 2020. This unit will be even better if rookies Bryce Hall and Ashtyn Davis can ascend to big roles.
Best-case scenario for the Jets in 2020: Can they make the playoffs?
The New York Jets finally see Sam Darnold taking that proverbial next step. He takes to Adam Gase’s tutelage. Le’Veon Bell rebounds with an All-Pro season, and the Jets take flight offensively.
Gregg Williams’ defense becomes every offense’s worst nightmare. Jamal Adams takes his game up yet another notch, and Quinnen Williams has a Defensive Player of the Year campaign up front.
All this leads to the Jets stealing the AFC East from Buffalo and getting into the playoffs with a 10-6 record.
Worst-case scenario for the Jets sees them going back to the drawing board
Darnold doesn’t take a third-year leap and sees ghosts all season long behind a tattered offensive line. Meanwhile, Bell goes from bad to worse, and Frank Gore finally succumbs to Father Time. The free agency addition of Perriman blows up in New York’s face, and Denzel Mims isn’t ready for the NFL.
Regardless of how good New York’s defense might be, an offensive effort as we described leads to a six-win campaign. Gase loses his job, Darnold is at the least on the hot seat and the Jets start over in 2021.
This is pretty much what ESPN predicted recently. Now we’ll take a look at why the doom and gloom may be a bit overblown.
2020 Jets game-by-game predictions – Listen Now
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13 at Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m.
The Bills are extremely tough defensively and we know defenses tend to start out hotter than offenses in the NFL. I’d expect Darnold to have a rough start to the season in Buffalo.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20 vs. San Francisco 49ers, 1:00 p.m.
Talk about a tough first two games. The defending NFC champs come to MetLife and are absolutely loaded once more in 2020. Not a great way to get the season going for the Jets.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27 at Indianapolis Colts, 4:05 p.m.
The Colts are incredibly talented on both sides of the ball as well. If Philip Rivers can discover the Fountain of Youth this year, they could challenge the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.
Week 4: Thursday, Oct. 1 vs. Denver Broncos, 8:20 p.m.
Finally a game the Jets should win. Hands down. Denver comes to the East Coast for a Thursday night game, and this one should be the Jets for the taking.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1:00 p.m.
This contest should be a fun one to watch. Two young quarterbacks going head-to-head. In Jersey, we’re giving the Jets the edge.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18 at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
The Chargers have a scary-good defense and will be at home. If their fans show up, it could be a fine spectacle at their brand-new stadium. That said, the Jets can run the ball down Los Angeles’ throat if they so desire.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 25 vs. Buffalo Bills, 1:00 p.m.
Midway through the season, with a few wins under their belt, we’re predicting the Jets get revenge against Buffalo in this one. Darnold will start gelling with his receivers and the Jets will move above .500.
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1 at Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.
Sorry Jets fans. No dice. Patrick Mahomes and Co. are just too potent.
Week 9: Monday, Nov. 9 vs. New England Patriots, 8:15 p.m.
The Patriots just aren’t scary any more. Without Tom Brady, the offense could be one of the worst in the league. Assuming Darnold doesn’t see ghosts again, this is New York’s for the taking.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15 at Miami Dolphins, 4:05 p.m.
On paper, Miami’s defense could be amazing. It remains to be seen if the new additions will really make the Dolphins dangerous, though. For now, we’ll assume Brian Flores gets this unit going strong.
Week 11: BYE
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29 vs. Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m.
After a week off to lick their wounds, the Jets come back with a game plan to expose Miami’s weaknesses. Darnold rebounds and the Jets have a big bounce-back performance.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6 vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 1:00 p.m.
It’s hard to know how good the Raiders might be this coming season. We know West-Coast teams don’t do well coming across the country for early games, however, so we’ll give this one to the home team.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13 at Seattle Seahawks, 4:05 p.m.
The Seahawks are so tough at home. They are also just plain good. Russell Wilson and Co. could shred the Jets to ribbons in this one.
Week 15: Saturday Dec. 19 OR Sunday, Dec. 20 at Los Angeles Rams, TBD
Second leg of a West-Coast road trip. Not easy. Look for Aaron Donald and the Rams to terrorize Darnold and the Jets in this one.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 26 vs. Cleveland Browns, TBD
Under new leadership in 2020, the Browns may finally live up to the hype that surrounded them last season. One thing’s certain: that offense is dynamic. With Myles Garrett wreaking havoc up front, the Browns are very good on both sides of the ball.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3 at New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m.
The Jets will finish the season strong with a win against Belichick. Too little offensive talent remains the issue, especailly at quarterback.