By all indications, general manager Joe Douglas and the Jets' personnel staff addressed many of the team's areas of need this offseason. Particularly on the offensive line and at wide receiver, the Jets will have a bit of a different look in 2020.
But looking ahead to the 2020 season, there are a handful of players whose play will dictate whether the Jets will improve on last year's 7-9 record, or if they'll fall flat in Adam Gase's second season.
With Tom Brady now calling Tampa Bay home, the AFC East could be up for grabs, but can the Jets capitalize? The answer to that question may very will hinge on the play of these five players…
Much like the Giants' 2020 success will fall heavily on the shoulders of Daniel Jones, the Jets will also be relying on their young signal-caller taking a big leap forward. NFL players will often say that they make their biggest jump in the league between their second and third seasons, and the Jets are hoping that is exactly the case for Sam Darnold in 2020.
That's not to say Darnold didn't improve from his rookie season into Year 2, because across the board he did. His completion percentage, passer rating, passing yards, and TD/INT ratio all got better during his second season, even though he missed three games early in the season due to mono. And while the Jets were inconsistent as a team, they were above .500 (7-6) in the 13 games Darnold started.
One of the biggest reasons why Darnold's play could take that next leap is that he could actually be upright for most of the season. Over his first two years with Gang Green, Darnold has been sacked a combined 63 times, which is far too much for any NFL QB to take. But the offensive line has been completely rebuilt, with the hope of keeping the franchise quarterback well-protected. We'll get to one of those new offensive linemen later on …
Brian Poole had a solid season locking down the slot with the Jets in 2019, but the two outside corner spots were a much different story. As a result, both Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts are no longer on the roster.
It's still up in the air as to whether it will be Bless Austin, Nate Hairston, Quincy Wilson, Arthur Maulet or rookie Bryce Hall who gets to start at one outside spot, but the other starting corner job, the "No. 1 corner" for Gang Green, figures to be Pierre Desir.
After bouncing around during his first three NFL seasons, the former fourth-round pick really caught on with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017 and was a consistent player for Indy ever since, starting 29 games. The Jets signed him to a one-year deal this offseason without much fanfare, and while he wasn't a huge name on the free agent market, he could be the consistent corner the team has been looking for the past few seasons.
Desir has good size for a corner at 6-foot-1, 192 pounds, and he can use that size to his advantage. And with the other corner spot being such an unknown at the moment, if Desir can take hold of that starting spot and never look back, the Jets defense will certainly benefit.
The Jets used valuable assets -- both in terms of dollars and draft picks -- to shore up a very spotty offensive line. Connor McGovern and Greg Van Roten were brought into the fold and Alex Lewis was brought back to make sure the interior of the offensive line is sturdy, and on paper, it is.
But the overall success or failure of the offensive line as a unit will likely come down to the tackle spots, and left tackle in particular.
Left tackle is the premier O-line position in the NFL. Teams spend big money there and use high draft picks to make sure they have a left tackle in place who will keep their quarterback's blindside protected. And while the Jets drafted Mekhi Becton in the first round, it will likely be George Fant who is given the first chance to secure the left side of the line.
Fant signed a three-year deal with the Jets this offseason, but if he doesn't prove himself as a capable starter in Year One, the team can move on from him without hurting its cap number.
At 6-foot-5, 322 pounds, Fant has the size to play the position, but he's fairly unproven as a starter. As Seattle's swing tackle the last few seasons, Fant made 24 starts over three years, but he's never taken on a full season as a starter.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets should be improved in the secondary while their linebacking corps also should get a huge boost from C.J. Mosely and Avery Williamson coming back from injury.
But one huge question remains: Where is the pass rush coming from?
Give defensive coordinator Gregg Williams a lot of credit. He gets extremely creative with his blitz packages and can generate pressure from a variety of different spots. And while the Jets hope Quinnen Williams can take a big leap forward into becoming an interior disrupter, the Jets need a quality pass rush off the edge.
Jordan Jenkins' sack totals have increased in each of his four NFL seasons, and after setting a new career-best with 8.0 sacks in 2019, the Jets brought Jenkins back on a one-year deal. There was a thought that Jenkins could garner a longer contract elsewhere, but he's betting on himself a bit by signing a one-year "prove it" deal with Gang Green, hoping to increase his numbers again and cash in either during the season or next offseason.
The Jets need to have at least one pass-rusher who can strike fear into opposing offenses, and they can't rely on bringing in a big name like Jadeveon Clowney, because it's almost certainly not going to happen. Jenkins needs to be productive again.
It might seem a little unfair to say that a second-round pick's rookie performance could make or break the Jets' 2020 season. But wide receiver, as a position group, is a question mark for Gang Green. Robby Anderson is now a Carolina Panther, and while Jamison Crowder is back in the slot and Breshad Perriman has been brought in as a speed threat on the outside, Mims could be counted on as the do-it-all receiver Darnold needs.
Even with Anderson on the outside last season, the Jets never had a consistent second receiver on the outside, and aside from Mims, there really isn't anyone else on the roster (as it currently stands) who could fill that role.
Mims has good size at 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, and he put up big numbers in Baylor's spread attack. During his final season with the Bears, Mims caught 66 passes for 1,020 yards and found the end zone 12 times.
The Jets shouldn't need Mims to come close to 1,000 yards as a rookie, but they need a consistent receiver presence alongside Perriman and Crowder. Maybe Gase and the coaching staff take things slowly at first with Mims as he gets to learn the NFL route tree, but the Jets will need him to produce at some point.