The Jets (unsurprisingly) had a loud offseason. For the most part, everything went pretty well. They hired a new coach, won the Le'Veon Bell sweepstakes, and drafted Quinnen Williams with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Then, they fired GM Mike Maccagnan after the draft, and new head coach Adam Gase briefly served as the interim GM. With new GM Joe Douglas in the fold, the organization appears finished with its major offseason moves.
For a franchise that seemingly can never escape controversy, the Jets enter the 2019 season with an exciting roster and plenty of reasons to feel optimistic. These are a few of them...
Sam Darnold's progression
The 22-year-old had an up-and-down rookie season as a whole, but his strong finish (931 yards, 6 TD, 1 INT, 99.1 QB rating in last four games) was enough to instill optimism for the future. He's been studying film of Peyton Manning, has an improved supporting cast, and will learn under the tutelage of new head coach Adam Gase.
Darnold will have the benefit of playing an entire 16-game schedule this year, a significant difference compared to the 13 he played in last season. While it's never easy for a quarterback, let alone a second-year signal caller, to learn a new offense, Darnold has felt comfortable in the process. When speaking to reporters at the start of OTA's, Darnold said, "for us, it's just taking it one day at a time. Nothing but good things to come."
Jets and football fans alike should look forward to what he'll be able to achieve in his first full season under center. His development will be essential to the Jets' immediate and long-term future, and you can count on the organization giving him every chance to prove he is the answer.
Le'Veon Bell's return to football
All eyes will be on the former Steelers tailback in his return to the field after holding out all of 2018. The Jets are hoping that their prized offseason acquisition can pick up where he left off in 2017, when he finished first in rush attempts (321) and third in rushing yards (1,291).
His abilities as a pass catcher will serve him well in Gase's offense, and he'll act as a valuable target for Darnold out of the backfield. Though he's only 27, Bell will serve as an experienced presence for Darnold and the rest of the Jets' offense. He's the type of player that will make those around him better, primarily an offensive line that should make leaps from last year.
The Jets haven't had a back like Bell in quite some time, and his pairing with Darnold is a very exciting and promising one.
First year of Adam Gase
While his results as head coach of the Miami Dolphins were less than inspiring (23-25), Gase's opportunity with the Jets has the chance to be much different. For one, he has a much better roster. Most importantly, he may have a franchise quarterback in Darnold, whom he is apparently infatuated with.
According to SNY's Ralph Vacchiano, Gase believes that Darnold is "not just a franchise quarterback, but a star in the making who is ready for a breakout season in his second year." If the quote serves as an indicator for how the season will unfold, the results could be extremely promising.
Many will keep an eye on Gase's relationship with newly-hired GM Joe Douglas. The former Philadelphia Eagles executive was the "hand-picked choice" of Gase, an important factor to consider after the failed pairing with former GM Mike Maccagnan. Primarily, Gase will be tasked with improving a Jets' offense that finished 29th last year. Equipped with additional pieces and committed to building a relationship with his quarterback, there's reason to believe he'll be able to do just that.
The additions of C.J. Mosley and Quinnen Williams
The Jets may have overpaid for their man ($17 million per year, $51 million guaranteed), but the addition of Mosley was an important one. The former Baltimore Raven is one of the game's best all-around linebackers, and his presence in Gregg Williams' defense will be a noticeable one.
Mosley finished four of his five seasons in Baltimore with 100+ tackles. Aside from his on-field production, he'll embrace a role as a leader.
"We just felt like he was culture-changer," Gase said in December. "He was the type of guy that could help really kind of lead that charge in the locker room, where the team building starts the right way." l
The No. 3 overall draft pick in Williams will also be a welcomed addition to Gang Green's defense. He'll be an immediate force against the run, as well as an aggressive, consistent threat to get to quarterbacks. The Jets haven't seen much of him … yet. He's been restricted throughout OTA's with a minor calf injury.
The organization is obviously playing it safe with their top draft pick, who is being viewed as a potential defensive anchor for years to come. His 6-foot-3, 303-pound frame hasn't seen much action yet, but he's been learning as much as possible from the veterans around him. His progress and first year in the pros will be fascinating to watch.