New York Jets corner back Darrelle Revis (24) runs off the field after a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)
New York Jets corner back Darrelle Revis (24) runs off the field after a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner)

In this week's BGA, I analyze Week 17 performances by Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bilal Powell, Quincy Enunwa, Darrelle Revis and Muhammad Wilkerson among others...


Quarterbacks

Bent: Like a pebble in your shoe that you can't get rid of, Ryan Fitzpatrick returned to the starting line-up for his final appearance as a Jet. He ends his Jets career on a positive note, with 210 yards, two touchdown passes and a quarterback rating of 109.0.

In many ways, it was the quintessential good Fitzpatrick performance insofar as he put up numbers and had good success, but only achieved this through taking risks. On another day, three or four of his passes could have been intercepted. When your quarterback's success depends so greatly on the playmaking abilities or otherwise of the opposing secondary, that's not really a recipe for sustainable success.

Despite getting lucky a few times, Fitzpatrick's made some good throws, including two accurate passes in the red zone for touchdowns. He has his moments. Not many of them, but he does have them.

He missed a lot of throws though, including one where it looked like he easily could have run for a first down to keep the drive alive.

I must applaud the Jets for making a plan and actually sticking to it for once. They decided when they drafted him that Christian Hackenberg wouldn't play as a rookie and they didn't deviate from that. I don't even care if it's the right decision. It's the principle of the thing. If this organization could adopt a more single-minded approach towards some of their other intentions, that will be a net positive in the long run.

It's unclear whether Hackenberg would have seen an opportunity if he'd shown better progress on the practice field or if that was irrelevant and they were resolutely determined to stick to the existing timetable. Whether the approach will be successful remains to be seen and is something we will get into more during the offseason.

Running Backs 

Bent: Bilal Powell had another terrific performance, with 122 rushing yards and three catches including a short touchdown. The Jets really seemed to screw up their running back situation by overusing Matt Forté early in the year and then only giving Powell a bigger workload once Forté was injured so there was nobody established to platoon him with.   They make it so difficult sometimes.

It could have been a much bigger game for Powell, though. He gained 25 yards on the first play of the second half, giving him 98 on 12 carries at that time, along with three catches for 15 yards and a score. However, he carried just 10 times for 24 yards over the remainder of the second half. In the end, he was only 92 yards away from being the Jets' leading rusher, but he ends up with a team-high 1,110 yards from scrimmage.

Brandon Wilds saw some action off the bench again. Wilds got off to a rough start when he fumbled the hand-off on his first play but contributed 29 yards on six touches including a 12-yard gain on a dump-off and a five-yard run that saw him push the pile. He appeared to be responsible for the only sack surrendered by the Jets on the day, though, as he went to the wrong side in pass protection. Of course, that might be on the quarterback or center for setting the protection incorrectly, though.

Fellow rookie Brandon Burks made his NFL debut and was given two carries after the Jets began a fourth quarter drive on the Bills' three-yard line. After gaining a yard on his first carry, he was blown up in the backfield for a big loss and the Jets ended up having to settle for a field goal. Both Wilds and Burks will be long-shots to make the rotation next year, but it can't hurt to have some young bodies to compete for time.

Khiry Robinson is also under contract for next season, but after suffering a broken leg for the third time in just over a year, it seems unlikely he'll be a factor next year.

Receivers

Bent: Brandon Marshall was announced as inactive before the game, which provided the remaining crop of pass catchers with an interesting test. If they could still be able to produce without Marshall in the game, that would bode well for the future with Marshall potentially departing after the season.

Each of the young receivers had some good moments and contributed to one of Fitzpatrick's better games of the year. It wasn't a perfect display from a group that has contributed to the team leading the NFL in dropped passes this year, but they made some tough catches and extended a few drives by getting to the marker after the catch.

Quincy Enunwa led the way with 81 yards on five catches. These included a 51-yard gain on a long bomb which perhaps could have been a touchdown if not slightly underthrown. He also had two plays where he caught a short pass and turned it into a first down; once by hurdling the defender and the other by spinning away from a tackler and stumbling backwards to the line to gain. He must get out of the habit of holding the ball in one hand as he tries to break tackles though.

Enunwa finished up the year with a team-leading 857 yards and four touchdowns on 58 catches as he was clearly the most improved player on the roster. He ended up tied with Powell, just one catch behind Marshall for the team lead.

Robby Anderson bounced back quite well from being shut out last week, catching four passes for 43 yards. However, he also false started and should really have been flagged twice for pushing off. It's good to see the slender Anderson being more physical, but he needs to be careful that this doesn't become a habit. He proved on a nice back shoulder throw that he can create separation without doing that.

Both Anderson and Enunwa have shown that they could potentially be productive enough to be thousand yard receivers if Marshall and/or Eric Decker don't return in 2017. However, they both need to work on their consistency and focus as each had a really bad drop yesterday as well.

Charone Peake has made contributions here and there throughout the season. His two catches included a tough first down after which held on despite being flipped over onto his head. He also contributed a good downfield block. Peake is another player who could make strides next year.

The other rookie, Jalin Marshall, made his return to the line-up and caught his second touchdown of the season. He also had a nice low grab for a first down. I'd eventually like to see the Jets experiment with Marshall in a more multi-faceted role, including some snaps in the backfield. Consider Percy Harvin as the blueprint.

Finally, Devin Smith saw more action this week, but wasn't targeted. He ends up the year with just one catch. He'll get a fresh start next offseason, but - like Dee Milliner before him - it doesn't seem like the status of being a high draft pick has compelled the team to place any kind of priority on developing him into a contributor.

NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport reported yesterday that the Jets' next offensive coordinator will be someone who values the tight end position, but that seems unfair on Chan Gailey who got good production out of Scott Chandler in the past and probably only neglected the position with the Jets because of a lack of talent. Maybe it's the front office who need to value that position.

Eric Tomlinson has been a nice pick-up though, albeit not one who contributes as a pass catcher. He has been impressive in the running game since his midseason arrival. While he hasn't been flawless, he's generally had more positive contributions that negatives and that's while the team has actively tried to run behind him more than they ever did with the likes of Kellen Davis or Jeff Cumberland. That has been a boost to a running game which you would have expected to go downhill due to all the losses on the offensive line. 

By contrast, Brandon Bostick continues to be let down by his inconsistency as a blocker. On one short yardage play in particular, everyone else controlled their blocks at the point of attack but he was driven back into the backfield, bottling up the runner. He made a nifty one-handed grab for a short gain, but that was just his eighth catch of the year, which isn't enough to make up for his inconsistent blocking.  

Offensive Line 

Bent: Other than Fitzpatrick, James Carpenter was the only other opening day starter still standing so, when you consider that Fitzpatrick has been benched a few times, Carpenter was basically out there with the second-string. He therefore deserves extra praise because he had an excellent performance with flawless pass protection and a series of impact blocks in the running game. 

The Jets had a number of runs that "popped" including the first play from scrimmage which went for 23 as three separate combo blocks were executed to perfection. There were also a perfectly-timed trio of pad-popping blocks, one after the other, on another good run. That's the kind of chemistry and cohesion that had eluded the running game for most of the year, but the second unit evidently has benefited from playing and practicing together more than the starters were able to.

Carpenter only had a couple of negatives, although one was similar to the Bostick play mentioned above as he was driven into the backfield on an otherwise well-blocked short yardage play. The Jets' short yardage running was their biggest weakness on the day, as they struggled in the red zone and failed on two 4th-and-short runs. Brandon Shell had a bad missed block on one of those, which also saw Ben Ijalana stood up at the line.

Shell held his own again and looks likely to get a long look at a possible starting role for next year. He was half-beaten three times in pass protection but avoided giving up any clean pressure by being strong enough to push outside rushes upfield at the last moment on each occasion. In the running game, he had some bad missed blocks, but he did have some good driving blocks and the team certainly had plenty of success running over the right side.

Dakota Dozier was a big part of that success in the first half but he regressed into a scruffy-looking second half display. Early on, he made some excellent blocks on the move, but he struggled to hold up at the point of attack and against bull rushes in the second half. He was also called for a holding penalty, which -as the announcers noted - seemed unnecessary.

Ijalana actually settled down over the last month and had a pretty consistent performance down the stretch. He didn't make as many contributions in the running game, but only got beaten a few times in pass protection, giving up one quarterback hit.

Wesley Johnson also held his own once again at center. He allowed some pressure, including a couple of hits up the middle and twice let his man shed his block to stuff a run, but otherwise made some good contributions in the running game and looks certain to be starting somewhere next year based on his performance this year. It remains to be seen if that will be with the Jets.

Finally, Brent Qvale and Craig Watts saw action as extra linemen. Qvale has somewhat established himself as a versatile reserve type, but Watts hasn't had much of a chance to impress yet.

Defensive Line

Bent: Notable from this week's game was the performance of Muhammad Wilkerson, who had easily his most disruptive game of the year. Constantly double-teamed throughout, Wilkerson was holding his ground and even getting penetration in a return to the kind of disruptiveness he'd provided on a consistent basis over the previous four seasons. 

Wilkerson had a sack, a tackle for loss, a goal-line stuff and plenty of penetration into the backfield in the running game and when pass rushing.    While this still falls short of what he's capable of, as he was still handled at the point of attack a few times, it was really good to see him posing a big problem for the opposition again. And for anyone questioning his effort, it was encouraging to see him hustling to lay a block on Cardale Jones on the fourth quarter interception. I knew there was more to him than money.

The loudest performance of the day came from Sheldon Richardson, who took advantage of Wilkerson being double-teamed to blow up three runs in the backfield, including one which forced a fumble that he was able to recover. He also dropped into coverage to break up a pass. Richardson penetrated the pocket a few times, but his only quarterback hit was negated by offsetting penalties.

That Richardson's most productive performance of the year should come on a day where Wilkerson was back to something near his best is no coincidence. Wilkerson's struggles this year have had a knock-on effect on everyone else. It also underlines what a huge difference it would make if Wilkerson is back to his best next year. Obviously Richardson being a beneficiary of that will depend if he's back but we'll be getting into the various keep-or-dump dilemmas over the next few weeks.

By contrast, Leonard Williams having deservedly been named team MVP earlier in the week, saw his season end with a comparative whimper. Obviously he played his part in holding the Bills to 2.4 yards per carry, but he ended up with just two tackles and one pressure. The exciting thing here is that he's only just started to scratch the surface in terms of his capabilities.

Deon Simon is another young player on the rise and he made some good contributions yesterday, including a goal line stuff and a sack. He was also in on a couple of other run stops and made a good open field tackle on a quarterback scramble after having dropped into coverage. The team didn't seem to lose much with Simon in for the injured Steve McLendon over the last month or so.

Finally, Anthony Johnson was credited with three tackles but overpursued on one play, leading to a big run. He didn't do much to distinguish himself in rotational work after Jarvis Jenkins was released.

Linebackers 

Bent: Rookie Jordan Jenkins finished the year on a high as he made some good plays against the run and generated some good pressure. His performance was highlighted by his sack, forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Recent addition Corey Lemonier also laid a big hit on that play, causing the fumble, although Jenkins got official credit. He was also a handful on a few other pass rushes. It sums up how disappointing the Jets outside linebacker play has been that a guy could come in cold having not been able to keep his job on the Browns and provide an immediate upgrade.

Freddie Bishop made some good plays against the run, including two tackles in the backfield, but he was badly caught on the inside on one outside run and didn't generate any pressure as a pass rusher. Bishop has played over 150 snaps over the last four weeks but had just three pressures and no quarterback hits.

Darron Lee had five tackles and a quarterback hit, but he was blocked out of a couple of plays and there were two short yardage plays where he met the runner in the hole but couldn't prevent the first down. This is probably the first time that his lack of size was a major factor in his performance, although once again that perhaps had more to do with him getting there a split second too late to square up to and stop the runner in his tracks.

The one major breakdown Lee had saw him drop into coverage and allow a receiver to drop in behind him all alone. EJ Manuel missed the throw, which should have been an easy touchdown. 

Was it his fault though? He initially dropped with the defender and then passed him off assuming someone was behind him. Buster Skrine had run with his receiver on a post route despite the fact the safety was right there. On the other side of the field, everyone appeared to be in zone coverage. It's always hard to tell - and perhaps even if it was Skrine's fault, Lee should have realized and adjusted accordingly.

David Harris once again led the team in tackles, including one in the backfield. He gave up a first down on a short pass and was caught inside on one run though.

Finally, Bruce Carter hasn't played much this season, but he got a chance at some playing time yesterday and responded well. He had a run stuff, a pass break-up and a pressure.

Defensive Backs

Bent: Darrelle Revis had a memorable day in what could have been his last game as a Jet. Having been selected as a team captain, Revis almost wrapped up his day with a touchdown after intercepting his first pass in over a year and returning it all the way back to the three-yard line.

Revis gave up a couple of first downs, including a long one that saw him pushed to the ground by the receiver running deep. He was also temporarily knocked out of the game on a play where he missed a tackle - not exactly a glowing recommendation for his potential conversion to safety. 

Naming him a captain was unexpected and a bit weird in light of his recent comments. Was this a nod to Revis' past, an act of "class" designed to give Revis exactly what he asked for before unceremoniously dumping him? Of course Revis believes the Jets should still pay him a top level salary based on past performance, even while conceding he's not the man he once was. I don't know where he gets his delusions.

Ultimately, this will be one of the biggest decisions of the offseason and I'm not convinced they've made up their minds yet. It's hard to imagine a satisfactory conclusion to the Revis/Jets saga. The Jets just never should have sent him away. That's where they lost him.

Calvin Pryor was responsible for the Revis interception, stepping in front of a defender to deflect the ball into the air. Pryor had an active performance as he was also in on a couple of stops near the line of scrimmage, but his roughing the passer penalty gave the Bills a second bite on fourth down.

Rontez Miles had a quieter day, although he made a touchdown saving tackle on the big pass play in the fourth quarter. He was also in good position on an incompletion. 

Darryl Roberts made an unexpected return to the main rotation this week and he broke up a couple of passes, although he was somewhat fortunate on one of those because he didn't know too much about it having initially been beaten. Roberts was beaten twice for first downs and one other time on a pass that was dropped.

Skrine also broke up a couple of passes and was in good position on a couple of other plays. He was beaten for one first down. As noted earlier, Skrine may have been responsible for a coverage breakdown that almost led to a touchdown. Over the course of the season I've noticed that he's been potentially at fault in several such plays, although he's arguably been one of the most consistent defensive backs in coverage. Moreso than anyone else, I wonder how a change of secondary coach would affect him.

After some recent encouraging signs, rookie cornerback Juston Burris did not play on defense and neither did Dexter McDougle, who ended up playing just six snaps all year. Doug Middleton and Marcus Williams played just three snaps between them with Williams giving up a first down in coverage.

Special teams

Bent: The low-key highlight of the game on special teams was a meaningless fourth quarter punt which actually ended up being a decent return for the Bills. On the play, Peake overpursued and Carter and Bostick lost contain. However, what you perhaps didn't notice was Harris busting his rear end to be the next man down and forcing the return man to redirect at the point of the catch. 

A tenth-year veteran probably shouldn't even be playing special teams at this stage of his career, but Harris wasn't going through the motions, even on such a meaningless play in such a meaningless game. What a fantastic example to set to his young teammates. If this proves to be Harris' last game as a Jet then I'll remember him as someone who gave his all to the last. However, on a team that desperately craves leadership, that's the kind of moment that should make everyone think twice about even considering cutting him loose.

Nick Folk had a solid finish to his year (and potentially his Jets career?) by nailing three field goals. One of his kick-offs was a squib kick that led to a long return due to overpursuit from Johnson and Marcus Williams, but he made up for it with his 70-yard onside kick that was recovered for a hilarious touchdown by Middleton. 

One day after Alabama scored their 15th non-offensive touchdown of the season, Middleton's score represented the first non-offensive touchdown for a Jets players since Antonio Allen's blocked punt return in December 2013. After a season where the Jets have often gifted their opponents big plays with dumb mistakes, it seemed oddly fitting that this should be the last touchdown they scored all season. Could you imagine that happening in an actual meaningful game?

Also, in kick coverage, McDougle had a couple of tackles. Unfortunately one of them was on Jalin Marshall, who had a couple of nice runbacks as he returned to that role with Nick Marshall out. Ronald Martin and Josh Martin also both made good plays to slow up the return man for McDougle and Lee to make the stop. Bryson Keeton added a special teams tackle in his first NFL game.

Finally, rookie punter Lac Edwards had a couple of good punts in this game, but also put one into the end zone for a touchback from near midfield. He's been a big disappointment all year. You would expect to have the position sorted for the foreseeable future after spending a draft pick, but he'll struggle to beat out any competition next year unless he makes significant improvements.

 

Final thoughts

Bent: The Jets completely outplayed the Bills in yesterday's game and the 30-10 score didn't even flatter them because they should have scored more having been in the red zone several times. I'd like to be able to suggest that maybe the Jets aren't such a bad team after all. However, the Bills had nothing to play for as well as the upheaval caused by the coaching change and the downgrade produced by putting Manuel in for Tyrod Taylor cannot be ignored.

It's true that when the pressure is lifted, players can perform well at the end of the season, with the most obvious recent example being Geno Smith and his "perfect game" a few years ago. The Jets displayed defensive playmaking ability to create three turnovers, got some really fortunate bounces and had a couple of individual performances which defied recent history. After a performance like this, you're left wondering where that was all season. 

After a 10-6 campaign last year, optimism was high that the Jets could go from strength to strength in 2016 despite what looked like a more difficult schedule, but I knew the Jets were going to struggle this season. Somehow, I've always known.

Let's not beat around the bush. 2016 was a terrible year, filled with far too many devastating losses to take. Whether the loss that affected you worst was an artistic pioneer, an intergalactic treasure or something more personal and closer to home, we all suffered in 2016 and we only got through it by supporting one another.

There's good news, though. Mercifully, it's all over now. Let's put 2016 in the rear-view mirror. We can finally start to look ahead, fight back and rebuild. This might be a low point, but the only way is up from here. 

Draft picks, cap-clearing moves, coaching changes and opportunities for young players to step up and make a name for themselves are on the way. At last, we can start to have the one thing that eluded us throughout the year:

Hope…

Tags: BGA

With the Jets holding the no. 6 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, there's a chance Saquon Barkley falls to them. The electric running back would welcome that possibility as a boyhood Jets fan. 

As all Jets fans understand and admit, there have been more than enough tough times while being a fan of the team. He jokes that if Jets GM Mike Maccagnan asks what he could do for the team, he might be a bit shy in his answer due to his fandom.

"I'll probably be a little more shy 'cause I was a Jets fan growing up, a true, true Jets fan," Barkley said...

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Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets middle linebacker David Harris (52) tackles Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the New York Jets 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets middle linebacker David Harris (52) tackles Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (23) during the second half at Hard Rock Stadium. The Miami Dolphins defeat the New York Jets 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The next stop for David Harris figures to be the Jets' Ring of Honor.

Harris, who spent 10 years as the anchor of the Jets defense before he was released last year, announced his retirement from the NFL on Friday afternoon. The 34-year-old inside linebacker ended his 11-year career through a short statement released by his agent on Twitter, less than three weeks after reaching the first Super Bowl of his career with the New England Patriots - although he wasn't activated for the game.

Tags: Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Nick Mangold, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Winslow Townson)
(Winslow Townson)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

The Jets have seen Sheldon Richardon, Damon Harrison, and Quinton Coples depart within the past few seasons. With the departure of Muhammad Wilkerson thought to be imminent, they suddenly find themselves in a position where they lack depth on the defensive interior.

In addition, a potentially promising pipeline of young depth hasn't really materialized. Deon Simon and Claude Pelon couldn't crack the rotation, and spent most of the year on the practice squad, while Lawrence Thomas became a full back. Leonard Williams will be back, but his 2017 season was arguably just as disappointing as Wilkerson's, and he might find that teams can more readily gameplan around him if he's not surrounded with the same kind of talent...

Tags: Deon Simon, Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson, Steve McLendon
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Daily News Live: NFL Combine 00:03:50
The Daily News Live panel breaks down which quarterbacks have the most to prove at the upcoming NFL Combine.

The Daily News Live panel breaks down which quarterbacks have the most to prove at the upcoming NFL Combine.

Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Lamar Jackson are among the top prospects.

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Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Wesley Johnson (76) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 30, 2016; Cleveland, OH, USA; New York Jets offensive guard Wesley Johnson (76) during the second half against the Cleveland Browns at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Jets won 31-28. Mandatory Credit: Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: When the Jets start their sales pitch to Kirk Cousins, he's going to want to know about more than just the size of their check. He's going to want to know, among other things, how they plan to protect him.

That's a project they can get started on right now.

The Jets should begin by re-signing center Wesley Johnson before the free-agent market opens on March 14, and solidify what was a young and better-than-you-think offensive line last season. Together with right guard Brian Winters and right tackle Brandon Shell, it would give the Jets a strong young corps on the line to build around. And with two solid veterans on the left side -- tackle Kelvin Beachum and guard James Carpenter -- it's a line that could actually be pretty good.

Tags: Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete) (Jay LaPrete/AP)

In ESPN Insider Mel Kiper's eyes, "Broadway Baker" will find his way to the Jets in his latest mock draft. 

Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, has seen his draft stock significantly rise all season. After leading his Sooners team to the College Footbal Playoff with gutsy drives and precision passing all season long, Kiper thinks he is the starter -- and leader -- the Jets need under center. 

READ KIPER'S ANALYSIS BELOW

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Josh McCown
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GEICO SportsNite: Cousins 00:02:18
The Jets hope to be in the mix to land highly touted free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins in order to provide stability at the QB position.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The entire Jets offseason will be played out in the shadow of Kirk Cousins -- the biggest name on the free-agent market, and the franchise quarterback they so desperately need. And that's even true right now, as the NFL's 15-day "franchise tag" window opens on Tuesday.

The Jets aren't likely to use the tag, but the Washington Redskins are reportedly considering using it on Cousins.

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Demario Davis, Morris Claiborne, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (56) during the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports  (Kevin Jairaj)
Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish offensive lineman Quenton Nelson (56) during the game against the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports (Kevin Jairaj)

The offensive line was a huge disappointment for the Jets in 2017, especially on the interior. In 2016, Wesley Johnson started eight games for the injured Nick Mangold, and the line didn't seem to suffer too badly. However, he struggled throughout the 2017 season after moving into the full-time starter role.

Guards Brian Winters and James Carpenter also failed to play as well as they had in 2016, although that may partly have been caused by Johnson struggling on their inside shoulder.   Injuries were also an issue here, with Winters in particular playing most of the season hurt, and eventually requiring surgery on an abdominal issue.

Dakota Dozier's performances in relief of Winters over the past few years have some people wondering if it was really wise to give Winters a big money extension, when Dozier doesn't appear to be much of a downgrade. However, he's out of contract now, so the Jets may need to replenish their depth.

Tags: Brian Winters, Dakota Dozier, James Carpenter, Nick Mangold
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Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon (99) sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium.  (Brad Penner (USA Today))
Jets defensive tackle Steve McLendon (99) sacks Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. (Brad Penner (USA Today))

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets exercised their options on two defensive starters on Tuesday, ensuring that defensive tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker Josh Martin will both be back for the 2018 season.

The Jets were facing a deadline of Tuesday on both players, but the decision likely wasn't difficult, especially with the team likely to have nearly $100 million in salary cap space to spend this offseason. McLendon is due a salary of $3.125 million this year and has a salary cap number of $4.25 million. Martin is due a salary of $1.8 million, with a cap number of $2.1 million.

The moves come one day after the Jets declined their 2018 option on tackle Ben Ijalana, making him an unrestricted free agent...

Tags: Steve McLendon, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Kelvin Kuo)
(Kelvin Kuo)

It is no secret the Jets wants top free-agent QB Kirk Cousins on their roster next season, and it came out Monday that they are "willing to pay whatever it takes." But what if Cousins decides to sing elsewhere? What is the Jets' next move from there?

According to SI's Peter King, the Jets should be high on bringing back Josh McCown, and drafting Heisman Trophy Award winner Baker Mayfield ahead of next season. Though the jets are expected to have a pretty healthy cap situation, McCown could come back for cheap, and Mayfield will obviously be on a rookie contract. 

King doesn't deny that Cousins could certainly be a Jet, but this situation could also work with McCown mentoring Mayfield as he did Johnny Manziel back in 2014. 

Tags: Josh McCown
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New York Jets tackle Ben Ijalana blocks during the second half of the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Jets tackle Ben Ijalana blocks during the second half of the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at MetLife Stadium. (Vincent Carchietta/USA Today Sports Images)

The Jets made offensive tackle Ben Ijalana a free agent on Monday after they failed to exercise his player option.

New York did not exercise Ijalana's $500,000 option bonus that would have activated his $4.5 million base salary for the 2018 season. By doing so, the Jets will save a total of $4.6 million.

Tags: Ben Ijalana
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Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)
Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins (8) throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the New York Giants Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun) (Bill Kostroun/AP)

The Jets know they need a quarterback, and in particular, free-agent QB Kirk Cousins. That is why the team is "willing to pay whatever it takes" to employ him next season, per ESPN's Rich Cimini

New York has failed to find their franchise quarterback for years now, as fill-ins, so to speak, continue to come to town with Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg failing to show they are the guy the Jets need. Josh McCowwas the latest of those rentals, and he had a career year before an injury unfortunately ended his season. 

This offseason, though, GM Mike Maccagnan has no excuse in Cimini's eyes. He currently has over $70 million in cap space, and could have more than that by the time they can grab Cousins. The Redskins can still franchise tag him, so they could use him in a trade, but that is unlikely. 

Tags: Bryce Petty, Christian Hackenberg, Josh McCown
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In 2017, the Jets' running game struggles probably had more to do with the offensive line being overmatched than the performance of the backs.

Tags: Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Matt Forte
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Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron throws against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. (David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron throws against the Chicago Bears during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. (David Kohl/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets reportedly turned down a Cincinnati Bengals trade proposal that would have sent quarterback AJ McCarron to New York last season, according to ESPN's Rich Cimini.

Cincinnati, according to Cimini, called the Jets organization at the start of free agency and offered McCarron in a trade, however the Jets turned it down to focus on free agency. It is unclear what Cincinnati requested in the deal.

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 (Vincent Carchietta)
(Vincent Carchietta)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: The Jets started over last offseason and actually built themselves a nice core of talent. They have many young, inexpensive players they can build around this spring.

They certainly have the tools to build around them - perhaps as much as $100 million in cap room, the sixth overall pick in the draft, and some extra picks too. And that's good, because even though the Jets exceeded expectations last season, they were still 5-11, and have plenty of holes to fill.

Now, as they get ready to begin Phase 2 of their rebuilding project, here's a look at their biggest needs.

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brian Winters, James Carpenter, Juston Burris, Leonard Williams, Morris Claiborne, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Trevor Ruszkowski)
(Trevor Ruszkowski)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter: Cornerback is one position where the Jets obviously need to upgrade.

They opted not to pick up a corner from last year's deep draft class until they took two project players - Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones - in the sixth round. The coaching staff claimed to like the upside of these players along with Juston Burris and Darryl Roberts as well as Rashard Robinson, who was added via trade at the deadline.

However, none of these players stepped up as hoped.

Tags: Derrick Jones, Jeremy Clark, Juston Burris, Morris Claiborne
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 (Kirby Lee)
(Kirby Lee)

"Broadway Baker" has a nice ring to top prospect QB Baker Mayfield

The 2017 Heisman Trophy Award winner sat down with The Post's Steve Serby to talk about the prospect of playing in the Big Apple, and if he has what it takes to succeed in a market that isn't friendly to anyone. 

Simply put: Mayfield loves the spotlight...

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New York Jets quarterback coach Jeremy Bates during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets quarterback coach Jeremy Bates during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. (Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports)

The Jets have officially announced the hiring of Jeremy Bates as offensive coordinator/QB Coach, and announced the hirings of Rick Dennison as offensive line coac/run game coordinator and Steve Jackson as assistant defensive backs coach.

"Jeremy is a talented coach who has a sound understanding of what it takes to build a successful offense," head coach Todd Bowles said in a press release. "Having spent last season with us, he offers continuity and has a good sense of what we need to do to improve. I look forward to him working together with our offensive coaches."

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: When Todd Bowles decided to fire offensive coordinator John Morton, he always had quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates in mind as a replacement...

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 (Jeremy Brevard)
(Jeremy Brevard)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

The Jets have been a team whose defense has been built around their interior linemen for a long time, but Muhammad Wilkerson's anticipated departure could be an opportunity to reinvent themselves by finding a difference-maker who can create constant pressure off the edge.

The Jets haven't really had an elite edge rusher since John Abraham, who was traded before the 2006 draft. They've tried drafting one high (Vernon Gholston), converting an interior lineman into one (Quinton Coples), and bringing in an established veteran (Jason Taylor). But none of these have been successful. None of their low-cost free agents, reclamation projects, or later draft picks have stepped up either.

Tags: Dylan Donahue, Jordan Jenkins, Lorenzo Mauldin
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Nov 2, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Nov 2, 2017; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan on the sidelines before a game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Jets are in position to be the kings of free agency, with potentially more salary cap room to spend than any team except for the Cleveland Browns. They are already projected to have about $75 million in salary cap space, and that's if they don't make another move.

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New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne breaks up a touchdown attempt to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)
New York Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne breaks up a touchdown attempt to Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry in the second half at MetLife Stadium. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

When the free agency frenzy finally begins, the Jets figure to be at the center of the storm. And all eyes will be on how hard they go after the quarterback they so desperately need.

But they have a ton of salary cap space to spend in other areas, including maybe on the 24 players they have on their roster who are approaching free agency. Here's a look at all their free agents-to-be, and their prospects of returning or finding potential riches somewhere else around the league:

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Brent Qvale, Chandler Catanzaro, Dakota Dozier, Demario Davis, Josh McCown, Morris Claiborne, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, Rontez Miles, Wesley Johnson, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Mark J. Rebilas)
(Mark J. Rebilas)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

There are always plenty of receiver prospects who make an immediate impact as a rookie, even in the later rounds. However, the Jets haven't had much success in recent years despite selecting seven wideouts in the last four drafts.

While four of those seven are under contract for 2018 and a fifth -- restricted free agent Quincy Enunwa -- also figures to be back, the Jets got just 15 catches of production from that group in 2017.

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Daily News Live: Jimmy Garoppolo 00:03:54
The Daily News Live crew discusses the impact Jimmy Garoppolo's new contract will have on the deal Kirk Cousins will want.

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Jimmy Garoppolo just became the NFL's highest paid player, even though he's only started seven NFL games and thrown 12 touchdown passes in four seasons. He reportedly agreed to a monster, five-year, $137.5 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers -- a record average of $27.5 million per season. That record will be very short-lived.

It's a simple fact of the NFL that the price of franchise quarterbacks only goes up, and in less than five weeks another one will be on the open market. And when Kirk Cousins officially becomes free on March 14 you can bet his deal will eclipse what Garoppolo just got...

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 (Glenn Andrews)
(Glenn Andrews)

In NFL.com's latest mock draft, Chad Reuter forecasted the first three rounds for all teams. With the Jets first selection at no. 6 overall, Reuter has them taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen.

The Jets take Allen over Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who fell to the Cardinals at no. 15. USC QB Sam Darnold went no. 1 to the Browns and UCLA QB Josh Rosen went no. 2 to the Giants.

Allen threw for 3,202 yards with 28 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his sophomore season. However, his production dropped this season to 1,812 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also suffered a shoulder injury, and was forced to miss the final two regular-season games this year...

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 (Chuck Cook)
(Chuck Cook)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Most of the draft discussions surrounding quarterback prospects have been focused on the consensus top five prospects: UCLA's Josh Rosen, USC's Sam Darnold, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson from Louisville.

However, depending how the offseason goes, the Jets might end up in a situation where they're not in the market for one of the top prospects.

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Nov 26, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) (Jay Biggerstaff)
Nov 26, 2017; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) (Jay Biggerstaff)

The Chiefs have released former Jet Darrelle Revis, the team announced. 

Revis, 32, would have been owed a $10 million contract guarantee if he was still on the roster on March 18. He was signed by Chiefs in November, playing five games, including two starts. 

After the Chiefs' season ended, Revis admitted he wasn't at his best.

Tags: Darrelle Revis
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New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers responds to questions from media during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. (Noah K. Murray)
New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers responds to questions from media during OTA at Atlantic Health Training Center. (Noah K. Murray)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive: Kacy Rodgers never got a chance to play in the NFL before he turned to coaching. But now he might be able to give his son the shot that he never had.

The Jets will be signing Kacy Rodgers II, the son of their current defensive coordinator, according to his agent, David Canter. Rodgers II will join the Jets for their offseason program, at least, after two years with the Saskatchewan Roughriders of the Canadian Football League.

Rodgers II is a 6-2, 208-pound defensive back out of the University of Miami. In 2014 he was a tryout player at the Kansas City Chiefs rookie minicamp, but didn't stick. He then signed with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos and spent a year on their practice squad before joining the Roughriders...

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Former Jets C Nick Mangold was thinking about starting his political career, and running in his local GOP primary, according to Politico's Matt Friedman.

However, Mangold said Thursday that he will not be running.

Mangold would've been running to replace the retiring Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who represents the 11th District of New Jersey. Essex County Republican Chairman Al Barlas has spoken with Mangold, and he appears to be serious about running for the position.

Tags: Nick Mangold
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Jan 14, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) rushes the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field. Jacksonville won 45-42. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Jan 14, 2018; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell (26) rushes the ball against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the fourth quarter in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Heinz Field. Jacksonville won 45-42. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

After saying he wouldn't join the Jets for $60 million, Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell, a pending free agent, told TMZ exactly what it would take to secure his services.

"A hundred Ms," Bell said, referring to $100 million. "Hey, listen to me: I play running back, but they've got to respect me like I am, man." 

Bell, 25, responded to a fan's tweet last week asking what amount of money it would take for him to join the Jets.

 

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 (Brad Penner)
(Brad Penner)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

Another year has come and gone without the Jets winning the Super Bowl. Even the Philadelphia Eagles now have ended their forever Super Bowl drought. If you're counting, that's 49 straight Super Bowls that have been played without the Jets.

Can the 50th time be their charm?

Tags: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Bilal Powell, Elijah McGuire, Leonard Williams, Matt Forte, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson, Sheldon Richardson, Ralph Vacchiano
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