This analysis is based on watching and re-watching TV footage. As such, it is not always possible to accurately determine everything that was going on. However, every effort has been made to ensure that the information below is as complete and correct as possible.

Coming up, your breakdown of yesterday’s win in Jacksonville, together with detailed analysis of personnel groupings and individual performance.

Join me after the jump as I attempt to cover every angle.

The big story this week is how Mark Sanchez returned to the lineup and the Jets played conservatively all day, leaning on their running game to just about do enough to get him and the team another win. However, I'm going to shake things up today and start by talking about the defense.

Last week, I shared how much I enjoyed the Jets' 7-6 win over the Cardinals, because I like low scoring football. However, although yesterday's game again went into halftime with the score just 3-0, I actually enjoyed the second half more. Rather than repeating the dominant defensive performance of the previous week, the Jets were playing more of a bend-but-don't-break style in the first half, with a red zone turnover and a missed field goal helping to limit the damage. A return to the Henderson/Sutton era wasn't exactly what I was envisaging in my enjoyment of last week's display. However, in the second half, the Jets stepped it up, sacking Chad Henne three times, pressuring him repeatedly and holding him to just 11 completions on his last 30 pass attempts.

As a measure of how they weren't living up to last week's performance in that first half, you may recall that I noted last week how the Jets achieved a "win" (by their own grading system) on 37 of 43 plays last week. This week, in the first half, it was just 18 of 33. In fact, they had six "losses" on the first drive alone. The second half was much better, of course. 27 of 38, including 11 of 12 in the third quarter.

In the end, they generated more pressure than they have in any other game so far this season, including two that directly led to passes being intercepted. The run defense wasn't very impressive, but did well enough to force the Jags into passing downs, so they could rely on their pass rush and secondary to get them off the field.

There are still cracks, but it was another step in the right direction defensively. It's obviously important for Rex Ryan that the defense finishes the season strongly, because that's something he can hang his hat on in terms of justifying his job security.

Let’s look at the rest of those individual performances:

Defensive Line

We have to start by discussing the superb performances from Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. They each generated a lot of pressure, picking up two sacks and three hits between them. Wilkerson continues to use his hands superbly and is giving offensive linemen fits with a variety of pass rush moves. He even got close on a spin move this week. In the running game, he stuffed a couple of runs and did get some good penetration, but was also blocked out of a few plays. As for Coples, he showed great interior pass rushing ability when he bullrushed up the middle and almost sacked Henne and then later did the same thing and this time did pick up the sack. At the end of the game, he got pressure on Henne on consecutive plays, with the second one leading to Ellis Lankster's game-clinching pick. For Coples, there weren't many negatives either. He did have a facemask penalty and a missed tackle and - while he had no realistic chance of affecting the play - it was disconcerting to see how half-heartedly he jogged after Montell Owens on his touchdown run one play after Coples' sack. On the whole, though, this was the kind of breakout game we've been hoping for from Coples since he showed an ability to be productive in preseason.

While the Jaguars had some success running the ball, especially between the tackles (70 yards on nine carries), it was difficult to determine whether any individual was at fault because the Jets seemed to have the wrong "run fit" on a lot of the plays. While this is sometimes due to an individual error - for example, Kenrick Ellis shot the same gap as Wilkerson on one play, leaving a huge lane up the middle - it usually seemed to be a case of them not lining up correctly or adjusting to the Jaguars blocking scheme.

Another difference from last week may simply have been the fact that they only had seven days rest, so older guys like Sione Po'uha, Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas who responded so well to having ten days rest wouldn't have benefited in similar fashion this week.

That's perhaps not entirely fair to Po'uha, who did make a couple of big stops, including one on third and one. He was driven off the line badly on a second half play, but that was the only time that happened all day and the run actually ended up going for a loss, as Po'uha continues to solidify his play while still falling well short of what he capable of when healthy.

Mike DeVito found himself driven off the line a couple of times early in the game, but had a much better second half, generating one pressure and stretching a run out to the sideline well. Kenrick Ellis is seeing his playing time creep upwards too and, other than the apparent mistake mentioned earlier, was getting some good penetration.

Linebackers

One of the biggest disappointments of the season so far has been the play of David Harris. Granted, that's a by-product of guys like Po'uha and Scott not being 100% and being unable to do their usual job of keeping blockers off him, but it's still a major concern - especially when he feasibly could be the only starting linebacker to return next year. The good news is that he turned in his best performance of the year against the Jaguars with ten tackles (including one for a loss) and a key pass defensed. He also added a sack, a hit and a pressure in the pass rush and had a forced fumble overturned by the replay booth. It wasn't a perfect performance - he did get caught in traffic on some of those runs up the middle - but it's good to see Harris is still capable of playing at a high level.

Alongside Harris, Scott of course gets some of the credit for keeping him clean, although he wasn't attacking the line of scrimmage with as much abandon as he did in the Arizona game and managed to run himself out of a few running plays. He came up big with the interception in the red zone and also had an impact as a pass rusher. While he gave up one first down catch, that was on a blatant pick play and he otherwise acquitted himself well in coverage.

On the outside, Calvin Pace had a poor game, although with news surfacing that Thomas may be unavailable for the rest of the year, I wonder if he could replace Thomas in his role as more of a primary edge setter, a role he handled well in Thomas' absence last year. Pace had a couple of missed tackles, only one pressure in 30 pass rush attempts and gave up three catches on three targets in coverage (although he was able to limit these to short yardage). He did get in on a couple of stops, but continues to be a disappointment. PFF have only given him a positive grade once since Week 2.

Before he got hurt, Thomas had a decent game. He made a couple of plays against the run and had one pressure. He was blocked out of two running plays that went for good yardage though.

While it will most likely be Coples that gets additional reps due to Thomas' absence, it also puts pressure on Garrett McIntyre to perform constistently, with Ricky Sapp waiting in the wings. We saw something good from McIntyre, as his hit - albeit unblocked on a delayed blitz - led to Scott's interception. However, we also saw something bad, as on Owens' touchdown run, he was swallowed up and blocked to the ground by a double team, creating the pile which Owens hurdled over to get to the second level. In McIntyre's defense, this came one play after the Thomas injury and he had to run onto the field and was barely in position as the ball was snapped. Other than that, he did get in on one run stuff, but didn't register any other pressure in 22 pass rush attempts, although he did help flush Henne from the pocket once.

Demario Davis rotated in for Scott a little more than last week, (five snaps instead of two), but it's apparent they don't trust him in coverage right now. He came out of the game to be replaced by Scott on one third and long play. I wonder if a healthy Josh Mauga would have made any impact this season.

Defensive Backs

The Jets secondary held yet another quarterback under 50%, which is especially impressive considering Revis is out. However, there were some disappointing breakdowns and the damage could have been worse if not for some dropped passes.

Antonio Cromartie turned in another confident performance, which he punctuated by breaking up a key pass down the stretch. His tackling this year has really improved, as evidenced by his excellent open field tackle on third down in the flat. He did give up a bit too much of a cushion on a couple of plays, but this might have been something the Jets were doing deliberately to perhaps set up some sort of trap. The thought of a healthy Revis and a Cromartie that plays with this kind of consistency is certainly enticing. One minor issue could be that he jumped a couple of routes, where maybe a double move would have allowed his man to get beyond him. I can't really criticize him for that unless it happens though, and the only time I can recall him getting caught out like that in recent weeks was on the WR-option gadget play in Seattle.

Kyle Wilson also seemed to play off his man on a few occasions. In assessing Wilson, I think he's become more physical in coverage this year and really improved his tackling (as shown on two good open field tackles yesterday). However, it seems like he gets involved in too many coverage breakdowns. There was one play yesterday where he was ten yards off the line of scrimmage on the right side with the only wide receiver on his side of the field lined up close to the edge of the line, but then another receiver motioned across and went out wide left. LaRon Landry came up into the box, as if to pick up the slot receiver and then you'd always expect Wilson to pick up the outside guy, but he was left completely uncovered for an easy 12 yards. It's almost as if Wilson fell asleep on that one. They also got lucky on another play where Wilson's man ran a crossing route and was completely uncovered, only to drop the ball. It looked like Wilson expected that to be a zone coverage, but every other receiver seemed to be accounted for and both safeties seemed to be too deep to pick that route up.

As always, I have to mention that I can never really be entirely sure who was responsible for any coverage breakdowns or if the communication in the secondary was adequate, but Wilson does seem to be involved in these situations quite a lot in recent weeks.

It looks like the Jets have a lot of faith in Lankster. When Cromartie left the game with his head injury, it was Lankster who was operating mostly without any safety help, something he seems to be doing a lot of in recent games. Lankster had two major negatives - giving up a first down catch on third and seven and letting a fourth down pass go through his hands for a first down that kept the potential game tying drive alive. Of course, he should have just knocked that last one down, but then he wouldn't have been able to actually ice the game on an interception two plays later. It's worth emphasizing that even on these two negative plays, he was still in good position, so it's rare that he gets beaten cleanly. There was one other play where he gave up a catch on the sideline only for the receiver to have stepped out of bounds. Again, I would give him credit on that play because he did a good job of funnelling the receiver to the outside. He did get blocked out of the play on Owens' touchdown run, but he's becoming pretty reliable in coverage and definitely seems like he has a future with the team.

LaRon Landry turned in another solid display too, although he was a bit too deep on several downfield completions and seems to be involved in too many of those coverage breakdowns. He was terrific in run support and made some good plays in coverage too. If he continues to play consistently over these last few games, that's going to make a tough decision for next year even tougher for the Jets.

Yeremiah Bell was also excellent in run support - he and Landry combined for 20 tackles and several of these were close to the line of scrimmage. He also broke up a pass and got to Henne once, but did give up a catch downfield and got caught up in traffic on the touchdown run.

Eric Smith was another player badly blocked out of the play on the Owens touchdown, but that was really his only negative. He had two pressures off the edge and recovered a fumble, only for the booth to overturn it. It was interesting to see rookie Antonio Allen re-enter to mix too. He made an impact as a pass rusher and while he only dropped into coverage seven times on 20 plays, he was in good position on one incompletion. He also drew a holding penalty as he forced a run to the outside.

Finally, Darrin Walls saw his first action of the year on defense. He replaced the injured Cromartie, but then did get back into the game once Cromartie made his return. All in all, he was in for eight snaps and thrown at once with the receiver dropping a wide throw.

Special Teams

Once again, special teams were a bit of a letdown. The Jets were very lucky not to have two punts blocked, either one of which could have cost them the game. The first one saw Tanner Purdum knocked over as CJ Mosley exploded up the middle and the second saw Lex Hilliard miss his block. To his credit, Robert Malone got both punts away superbly including one that was fair-caught by a receiver who had to run back 10 yards for to catch the 59-yarder. Malone did have two poor punts as well though.

Lankster had a great game on special teams. He's probably the closest thing they have to a primary gunner right now, because they're mixing up who gets that assignment. Wilson got down there quickly one time, only to get lit up by a huge block. They've also been using Landry in that role and Mardy Gilyard is more than capable too. In the return game, Joe McKnight, who was suffering from migraines overnight, saw one returnable kick dribble past him into the end zone. Jeremy Kerley had a good punt return, evading two tackles to set up a score.

I continue to wonder where Eric Smith's reputation as a good special teamer comes from. He has one special teams tackle this year. Last year's top special teamer Nick Bellore got in on one big hit, but also missed a tackle and has been a lot less productive than last year.

Quarterbacks

The Jets got Mark Sanchez to play within himself this week and it proved to be a winning strategy. However, failing to put up any points against one of the league's worst defenses in the first half can't have been the plan.

To give Sanchez some credit, he showed progress in some of the areas where he struggled last week. He opened the second half with a decisive, on-time throw to Chaz Schilens coming back to the marker for a first down and hit Jeremy Kerley on an identical quick slant to the one he chose not to throw last week for a third down conversion. He also hit his hot read a couple of times - maybe a hair late on the first one where Gilyard came up just short of the marker, but right on target to Kerley on another play (only for Kerley to fumble). So, there are signs that they're at least trying to work out the kinks.

Sanchez also had a good throw on the rollout to Schilens and the big throw down the middle to Jeff Cumberland in the fourth quarter was also well-thrown. He also created three other first downs, two on penalties and one on a smart, decisive tuck-and-run.

Was it perfect? Of course not. He badly overthrew an open Jeremy Kerley on a comeback route and lost a fumble, but let's face it, if Greg McElroy won the game posting the same numbers (12-for-19 with two drops) then we'd all be saying he was the future and that there's no way Sanchez could have achieved the same. Maybe this is enough to give him something to build on.

Before I move on, I must repeat what the announcer said during the game:

"Now you tell me...is there anyone getting separation against man to man coverage?"

Here's the play he was talking about. You be the judge:

His conclusion was no, for some reason. I see four, maybe even five open receivers. If he dumped it to Kahlil Bell on the left side, that's a touchdown.

Of course, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy did not play. I wonder how long that will be the case.

Offensive Line

The second half display by the offensive line was phenomenal. If the reports about Brandon Moore ripping into them are correct, then the effect was obvious, particularly with the established veterans. Nick Mangold didn't have much of a first half impact, but looked as good as ever in the second half, moving guys all over the place. D'Brickashaw Ferguson missed a bad block in the first half and got beaten for a strip sack, but in the second half he had two tremendous blocks - a trap on the Bilal Powell touchdown run and a driving kickout block pulling to the right on the play just before it.

Other than that sack - the first Ferguson has given up all season - Sanchez was under pressure just twice. Once was on the play shown in the screen grab above, where he held onto the ball waiting for the routes to develop - which he was right to do - and Jeremy Mincey eventually got off Vladimir Ducasse's block to hit him as he released the throw. The other was a play where Austin Howard's man eventually got pressure, again after some time.

Howard continues to look really good at right tackle. He once again had a positive impact in the running game too, looking good on traps and kickout blocks. There was one interesting sequence on that second touchdown drive, where the Jets got the ball on the 46 and ran for a touchdown with Bilal Powell getting seven carries in a row. Howard had just made a great trap block and Powell went for 13, but on the next play, he let his man get into the backfield and blow up the run for no gain. Moore remonstrated with him after the play and of course the line re-grouped and ran it in three plays later.

Moore backed up his words with a standout performance. While he made a few mistakes, he had some physical blocks both on the move and going straight ahead. The other guard, Matt Slauson, turned in a solid display too, with more positives than negatives. Even the two backups, Ducasse and Jason Smith made an impact, leading the way on a third quarter run to the outside by Shonn Greene.

Running Backs

Greene and Powell both worked well in the running game, operating as a two-headed monster and proving Mangold's oft-repeated "keep swinging the ax" mantra (inherited from Alan Faneca, I believe) to be true. Powell gained a career-best 78 yards on 19 carries, but that included three carries at the end of each half where the Jets were more concerned with running clock than gaining yardage and were running into a heavy set. Those six carries netted just seven yards, but when it counted, Powell was picking up huge chunks - including that one-man drive for 46 yards and a score on seven carries.

Greene gained 77 yards on 20 carries, but was 13-for-55 in the second half, as he was tasked with the tough wear-down-the-defense role in the first half. It was good to see him get in the end zone again and he has very quietly racked up 883 yards on the season, with three games still to go. As I've noted, he is making much better reads over the last couple of months and I still believe you can attribute his slow start to the new scheme (which in turn caused the offensive line to start slowly), but he is running effectively within that system now. However, there was one play where he made the wrong read:

As you can see, had he bounced left, he looks like he could have had an easy first down. Dwight Lowery had crept up to the line, then backed off and although he was on the edge and perhaps would have been able to make the tackle, you'd expect Greene to have enough upfield momentum to at least get to the marker. As it happens, he just plowed into the line for no gain. Having said that, I present this because it's more of an aberration these days and he is making better reads overall.

At fullback, Hilliard had one good lead block, but also got pushed back into the runner once and did have a bad dropped pass.

Bell was in for just two snaps as a third down pass protector and McKnight was in for one play.

Receivers

With the Jets not airing it out much this week, there's not much to judge the receivers on in the passing game.

Schilens had two solid catches downfield and one excellent block in the running game. Gilyard also got into the action with some good blocking and caught two short passes, although one of them saw him tackled just shy of the marker and the other saw him inexplicably step on the sideline just before the marker. He also failed to catch a low back shoulder throw by Sanchez, where the announcers felt his route wasn't great.

It's another blow to see Stephen Hill sidelined with what looks like a bad leg injury. He had seemed to be turning the corner only for this to come at a time when he looked set to get a ton of reps.

Kerley has had a good season, but it was disappointing to see him fumble the ball away on what otherwise would have been a good play. He did make one first down catch, but his other three catches were all quick tosses for short yardage.

Cromartie saw some brief action, catching one pass for a loss. I wonder if Cromartie and a healthy McKnight will be seen as better options than bringing in someone new and teaching them the playbook at this stage of the season.

The Jets used their four tight ends a lot, including Jason Smith. They combined for 114 snaps on 64 plays, despite the fact that Cumberland was injured for part of the game. Cumberland came up with the big catch, but had a poor day as a blocker, especially late in the game where the Jets were trying to run out the clock. Konrad Reuland, on the other hand, has his best game as a blocker so far this year. He was pretty inconsistent in the first half, but had an excellent second half making blocks at the second level. He also caught two short passes.

Finally, Hayden Smith saw his first meaningful action, getting in on 10 snaps. He didn't really do anything wrong, although I still sensed a slight hesitancy at times. However, once he locked onto a block, he seemed capable of holding his ground. If he can continue to get more comfortable, there's signs that he could harness the leverage techniques that will come naturally to him as a rugby player and turn himself into a competent blocker.

Conclusions

The Jets played this one pretty safe and came away with a relatively comfortable win, although they still needed a defensive stand to hold on. It's interesting that they're taking this approach now. As I noted last week, it was three years since they had won a low scoring game in the regular season, but now that's two in a row.

As a team, the Jets still don't look good. However, certain elements - the secondary, the running game, maybe even the pass rush - are starting to develop into the kind of staples you can lean on to get results in a late season game. Three games remain against teams that aren't very good, but probably still represent an upgrade over the last two teams they've faced, so getting to 9-7 will still challenge them.

However, if they continue to rely on those things they're doing well and avoid shooting themselves in the foot, then it's not out of the question.

Should they defy all logic and go on to scrape into the postseason, there's no way they look good enough to beat a playoff caliber team. However, you'd have said exactly the same thing in 2009, wouldn't you?

We're back to normal service now, so hit me with your BGA questions in the comments section and I will answer them for you in BGA Extra in a few days.

Tags: BGA, Editorial Aside, Bent Double

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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 (Kirby Lee)
(Kirby Lee)

Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter

Two years ago, the Jets drafted Darron Lee with their first pick, hoping to shore up one of their inside linebacker positions for the foreseeable future. Over the course of his first two seasons, he's been up and down, but he has retained an every-down role.

Last year, he struggled initially, then played the best football of his career in the middle of the season, only to regress down the stretch. However, there are no indications that the Jets intend to move on from Lee.

Tags: Darron Lee, Demario Davis, Jamal Adams
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Jan 27, 2018; Mobile, AL, USA; North Squad quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming (17) throw a pass during the second quarter of the 2018 Senior Bowl against the South Squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports (Glenn Andrews)
Jan 27, 2018; Mobile, AL, USA; North Squad quarterback Josh Allen of Wyoming (17) throw a pass during the second quarter of the 2018 Senior Bowl against the South Squad at Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports (Glenn Andrews)

In his latest mock draft, Todd McShay changed his pick for the Jets, and has them taking Wyoming QB Josh Allen with the sixth overall pick. 

McShay originally had New York taking LSU DE Arden Key. However, he had a change of heart as the Jets desperately need to find their franchise quarterback. But he warns not to forget about free agency, where GM Mike Maccagnan will have about $100 million to go after high-profile QB Kirk Cousins.

"Yes, it's a running theme -- this is another landing spot for Cousins," McShay writes. "If the Jets don't sign him in free agency, Allen makes a lot of sense if Mayfield is off the board. There is a significant drop-off in talent after the first four QBs in this draft, so the Jets need to make sure they grab one here. Allen had an impressive performance at the Senior Bowl, showing off his arm and his mobility. There are still concerns about his accuracy and ability to make multidimensional throws consistently, but all the tools are there. And he has the prototypical QB build (6-foot-4 7/8, 237 pounds)."

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 (Matthew Emmons)
(Matthew Emmons)

Ralph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

The Philadelphia Eagles would be absolutely crazy to get rid of Nick Foles now after he slayed the mighty Patriots, and was rightfully named the Super Bowl MVP. Yes, they have Carson Wentz, a legitimate MVP candidate, before he got hurt. And yes, Foles will likely be Wentz's backup again next season.

But didn't Foles just prove to everyone how valuable a backup quarterback on a contender really is?

Tags: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ralph Vacchiano
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 (Jerome Miron)
(Jerome Miron)

In last year's draft, the Jets used their first two picks on safeties, and Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye started every game alongside one another in the secondary. Those starting roles seem settled for the next few years, but the Jets like to operate out of packages with three and even four safeties, so Todd Bowles may be keen to add some depth.

Last year, Rontez Miles and Terrance Brooks each saw regular playing time, often playing together as the Jets used a four-safety dime package in passing situations. Also, Doug Middleton, who missed the season due to injury, was expected to contribute. All three are now out of contract though, so the Jets may look to fortify their depth in the draft.

While it seems unlikely the Jets would select another safety with their top pick, Alabama's Minkah Fitzpatrick is a possible consideration due to his versatility. Could Fitzpatrick be like Jalen Ramsey -- a hybrid cornerback/safety who has developed into one of the league's better cornerbacks?

Tags: Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Rontez Miles
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