In this week's BGA, Bent analyzes Week 8 performances by Todd Bowles, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Forte, Quincy Enunwa and the Wide Receivers, Breno Giacomini and the Offensive Line, Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson, the team's Defensive Line and Linebackers, and Brandon Marshall and the Special Teams, all which you can read here...


Coaching

Bent: Yesterday's game was perhaps more challenging for Todd Bowles than some anticipated as the Jets came out flat and were 13 points down at the half. Somehow, the team managed to turn things around after halftime and while it does little to remove the bitter taste of a miserable first half display, it keeps the overall momentum of the team's season headed in the right direction.

The halftime message to his team was an appropriate one, imploring the players to look within themselves and impose their will on the game in the second half. Making significant adjustments could have potentially backfired, while getting overly critical risks alienating players against each other and the staff and further fracturing a disenchanted locker room. The Jets played with more of an attitude, stuck to their gameplan and gradually took control of the game in the second half to come away with an ugly road win.

It was the right move for Bowles, who correctly identified that the Jets had the talent and a plan in place to outperform their winless opponent. However, the halftime deficit forced them to play with a small margin of error and a momentum swing at any point, even due to a freak play or a lucky bounce, would have put the Jets at risk of being Cleveland's first victim of the season.

This is not an approach the Jets can afford to fall back on because repeating the same message will soon fall on deaf ears. While it paid off yesterday, the outcome had as much to do with the Browns' flaws than it did the Jets' surplus of experienced and talented players. When things were going well, the Browns were rolling, but as soon as the Jets settled the ship, that took the crowd out of the game and the Browns crumbled at the slightest hint of adversity. That's emblematic of most teams that are winless at the halfway stage of the season.

The Jets had a couple of performances exactly like this one last season - on opening day against the Browns where they trailed 10-7 just before half time but rebounded to score 24 unanswered points and then in October against Washington when they trailed 13-10 at the half before again scoring 24 with no response. Yesterday's game saw them recovering from a deeper hole but again saw them figure it out and take complete control with 24 unanswered.

The thing about these ugly wins is that they are still wins. Clearly the Jets found some kind of winning formula in each of those three games, something they were able to bring to the table in the games that followed. Last year, they gradually built on that to the point where they were able to beat some stronger teams and end up with a winning record. Repeating that feat is the challenge facing Bowles now as he seeks to get the season back on track.

Quarterbacks

Bent: Ryan Fitzpatrick put together a statistically impressive line in the second half (13-of-20 for 198 yards and a score), but the Jets maintained a very conservative gameplan after his recent struggles continued in the first half.

As we know, Fitzpatrick typically is at his worse when his team is playing from behind, so it didn't help matters that they were down by a touchdown before he even took the field. The Jets couldn't get anything going offensively for most of the first half as Fitzpatrick completed just three of his 14 pass attempts.

While there were a couple of near-misses downfield and he was let down by a couple of drops, Fitzpatrick was inaccurate for much of the game, even on passes he completed. He also threw late to the outside on a few occasions, a tell-tale sign that his confidence is at a low ebb.

As the game progressed, it seemed like the lightbulb came on for Fitzpatrick as the game swung in the Jets' favour and his confidence grew. He started stepping confidently into throws and hitting his receivers in stride. It will be very interesting to see if he can carry that over into the next game, but the Jets' gameplans should probably remain tentative because an over-confident Fitzpatrick might be the worst Fitzpatrick of all.

The Jets put together four extended touchdown drives of 78 yards or longer, including three in a row to open the second half, leaning heavily on their running game and a short passing attack. The first of those four was in danger of stalling but Bilal Powell bailed the Jets out with a 35-yard touchdown run on third and long to provide their only points of the first half.

Of the four drives, only one was less than 12 plays. That was sparked by a 57-yard bomb to Quincy Enunwa as the Jets smartly decided to attack downfield having come close to connecting a few times earlier on. Enunwa was also responsible for Fitzpatrick's only touchdown pass, breaking four tackles inside the 10-yard line to get into the end zone.

Even with his solid second half, Fitzpatrick completed less than half of his pass attempts and had three passes that could have been intercepted, not including the three he had batted down at the line of scrimmage. He'll have to be more consistent in order to keep the Jets winning over the next few weeks, which he'll need to do to retain his job. However, it's encouraging that he's actually been picked off just once in the last four games.

Bryce Petty is going to get his chance soon if Fitzpatrick falters, but the Petty era almost had to begin prematurely when Fitzpatrick took a big hit while trying to run for an early first down. It goes without saying that he will need to protect himself a lot better, otherwise any improvements he continues to make will be all for naught.

Running Backs

Bent: The Jets smartly relied on their running game to get them back into this contest while facing an opponent that has struggled to stop the run and, for the first time, the potential of a Powell and Matt Forté one-two punch was fully realized.

Between the pair of them, they rushed for 158 yards and three scores, with Forté grinding out the tough yards and Powell picking up big chunks of yardage on draw plays against pass defense personnel.

The Jets have had some issues in short yardage situations over the course of the season, but Forté converted on 4th-and-one, powering over for a four-yard touchdown to give the Jets their first lead at 21-20. Had the Browns stuffed that play, the outcome might have been very different. He would later power over for another short touchdown to pad the lead.

Most of Forté's yards - and one of his touchdowns - came from plays where he bounced the run to the outside as he continues to display good vision and patience most of the time.

Powell ended up with 76 yards on just six carries and also had a 17-yard run negated by a holding call. His 35-yard burst on third and long provided the Jets with their only first half points as Fitzpatrick smartly audibled to a draw play with the defense spread out. Powell would later add 20 yards on a cutback run.

At the halfway point of the season, Forté has rushed for 542 yards and six scores, but he's only averaging 3.5 yards per carry. Powell is averaging more than twice that at 7.1 per carry, but that's mainly due to the fact that Forté is mostly running into stacked boxes while Powell is entering the game in passing situations and running a lot of draw plays against pass defense personnel.

Could they switch roles for a game or two at some point, in order to cut back on some of the wear and tear for the veteran Forté? It's possible, although you'd expect Powell to see diminishing returns as his workload increased. You'd probably see Forté's yards per carry average take a leap forwards though. Based on their respective injury histories, the team probably favors Powell in a less demanding role due to Forté having superior durability, but Powell has carried the ball 15 times or more three times before, including a career best 149-yard performance in 2013.

Despite the conservative gameplan, the pair didn't get much done in the passing game as the Browns disrupted some screen pass attempts by getting in the passing lane. Each had a key play though, with Forté taking a side-armed dump-off by Fitzpatrick down to the two-yard line to set up his second score and Powell making a low grab on 3rd-and-short to extend the drive on which Enunwa's touchdown made it a one-possession game.

Receivers

Bent: Enunwa continues to spark the Jets, as his spectacular 24-yard touchdown catch saw him slip past four Browns defenders to get into the end zone. Enunwa led the Jets with 93 yards on four catches and remains on course for a potential thousand-yard season as he has 502 yards at the halfway stage. However, it wasn't Enunwa's most consistent performance, as he let three catchable balls hit the turf - not including the ball which he ripped away from a defender to save a turnover, but then couldn't hang onto for what could have been a long touchdown.

He might not be emulating last season's terrific production, but Brandon Marshall is making plays to help this team win over the last couple of weeks. He caught four passes for 68 yards, all in the second half, but also contributed with his blocking for the second week in a row. Marshall threw the key block on Powell's touchdown run but also made a couple more good blocks in the first half.

Maybe they were avoiding Joe Haden or maybe they wanted Fitzpatrick to avoid falling into the trap of forcing the ball to him, but whatever the reason, they barely looked for Marshall in the first half. Marshall almost came up with a deep throw where he had half a step on Haden late in the first quarter and then drew a flag for illegal contact on the next snap. Otherwise, he wasn't thrown to until the third quarter. In the second half, he was open over the middle for three first downs, including a 31-yard catch-and-run, and converted a third down on a back shoulder throw.

So, maybe Fitzpatrick needs to be forcing the ball to Marshall to be successful? Or maybe he was only able to force the ball to Marshall and enjoy second half success because they made a concerted effort not to do that in the first half. Either way, the Jets need to be careful about how much they involve him in the gameplan and they seemed to pick their spots well in the second half.

The Jets' youngsters continue to deliver in key moments as Robbie Anderson and Charone Peake each extended drives with clutch third down catches. Peake leapt up to high-point the ball on a long out in the first half, while Anderson managed to scoop a low throw off the turf to extend the Jets' go-ahead touchdown drive.

Peake wasn't otherwise targeted, but made a good contribution with a downfield block. Anderson had two other key catches - another low grab for a first down and a short third-down grab where he managed to get close enough to the first down marker to entice Bowles to go for it and score the go-ahead touchdown on fourth down.

Kellen Davis made some contributions as a blocker but appeared to get hurt on Forté's first touchdown run. He seemed to grab his elbow at the end of that play and did not return, but the running game functioned just as well without him.

Brandon Bostick saw more action than Davis, even before he went down with the injury. He continues to get work at fullback as well as tight end and missed three or four blocks badly but also made some positive contributions including a good lead block and a short catch.

Offensive Line

Bent: The Jets made the interesting decision to plug Breno Giacomini back into the starting line-up for Ben Ijalana at right tackle. However, they seemed to be operating a rotation early on. In the third quarter, Giacomini suffered a finger injury, but he returned in the fourth quarter and the Jets reverted to a rotation down the stretch.

Ijalana was on the field for each of the last two touchdown drives, the only time he was in for two drives in a row, but it was actually Giacomini who was in the game on the first two touchdown drives.

I'm not sure it helped the lack of cohesion on the line in the early stages though. Giacomini showed some initial rust and was still struggling to move well enough laterally to prevent edge rushers from turning the corner on him as was the case for much of last season.

Those early struggles were summed up by this sack, where four pass rushers arrive at the quarterback simultaneously as each of them beats or drives back their blocker and James Carpenter had no idea who to help.



I felt sorry for Carpenter in the first half, as there were several plays where he executed his block really well, but someone else made a mistake so the run got blown up. Later on, his contributions had more of a direct impact, notably on the go-ahead touchdown. Carpenter had a couple of negatives, including giving up a pressure on a stunt and negating a third-down conversion with a holding penalty, but his run blocking performance was influential, especially with Nick Mangold out.

Mangold's replacement, Wesley Johnson, once again was just about good enough for the Jets' offense to function effectively. He was overmatched at the point of attack on a few plays and struggled on a couple of bull rushes in pass protection but made a couple of good second level blocks and made a good block on one of the Forté touchdown runs. Make no mistake though, despite the decent rushing stats with him in the game, a healthy Mangold will produce a significant upgrade.

After an impressive game last week, Brian Winters fared quite well again, although he let his man get off his block to make a few plays in the first half. He had some good run blocks in the second half and didn't get beaten in pass protection, although he was driven back into the pocket a couple of times.

Ryan Clady had two false starts and was again beaten a handful of times in pass protection, but was at least able to limit the amount of clean pressure this week. He was inconsistent in the running game too, albeit better in the second half, like everyone else.

I'm not sure what they will do with Ijalana and Giacomini going forward. Ijalana wasn't flawless in pass protection either, giving up a hit, and he messed up a couple of assignments to lead to a run being stuffed for a loss and another being stuffed at the goal line. He made a key block on a screen pass and a couple of good run blocks though.

In light of his struggles, Clady losing time to Ijalana could even be a consideration. Also, where will Brent Qvale fit in once he is ready to return?

For the second week in a row, the Jets employed Dakota Dozier liberally as an extra tight end and he made a good block on the go-ahead touchdown run. Brandon Shell also saw action on one short yardage play.

Defensive Line

Bent: The Jets did exactly what we suggested last week with their defensive line, rotating Leonard Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson into two spots on the defensive line and occasionally playing all three together as a three-man front.

This meant there was less work for nose tackle Steve McLendon, who was averaging about 45 snaps per game in the first six weeks, but that snap count has halved over the last two.

Early returns were not good, as the Browns marched downfield for a touchdown on their opening drive and led 20-7 at the half. However, it began to pay off down the stretch, as the Jets perhaps benefited from each of their three stars being fresher than usual in the fourth quarter.

The Browns were held to 68 yards rushing on 18 carries, including just 20 yards in the second half. In fact, almost half of those yards came on two plays, otherwise the Browns were only gaining about two yards per carry. The Jets now have the number one run defense in the NFL despite losing Damon Harrison in the offseason. They also generated a decent amount of pressure.

Perhaps the biggest play of the game came just before halftime with the Browns potentially about to take a seemingly unassailable 24-7 lead. Wilkerson burst into the backfield for a sack and the Browns eventually had to settle for a field goal.

What I liked most about the play was that Wilkerson looked angry afterwards, rather than being exuberant about having compiled an individual highlight. There have been times this year when players have celebrated big defensive plays while having played poorly overall a little too excitedly for my liking. That attitude perhaps helped make Bowles' halftime message effective.

Wilkerson came up big again later on when his pressure set up an interception to set up the clinching field goal. He also got in on a couple of run stuffs. Overall, Wilkerson may still be struggling with injuries as he hasn't been putting together the consistently dominant performances we're used to seeing from him, but he was the pick of the Jets' linemen yesterday.

Richardson was held without a tackle, which might get a lot of attention given how it's been assumed he'd automatically ramp up his production once he moved back onto the line. However, he was mostly rushing the passer, so he didn't get many opportunities to make tackles against the run. In that role, he had four pressures.

It's possible Richardson might take time to adjust to playing full time on the line again, assuming they persevere with that. He was uncharacteristically driven off a few times, missed a tackle in the backfield and false-started with the Browns backed up to their goal line. For the game as a whole, Richardson was standing up on just two plays, so the team wasn't tempted to use him as a linebacker even with all the injuries there.

Williams didn't have much production either, although he was in on two run stuffs including one for a loss, got close to Josh McCown a couple of times and made an open-field tackle to force a field goal attempt.

Back-ups Deon Simon and Jarvis Jenkins saw brief action, with Jenkins getting in on a run stuff and penetrating well to flush the quarterback from the pocket. Simon was blocked out of the middle on Isaiah Crowell's touchdown run though.

Linebackers

Bent: The Jets had to rely on Julian Stanford to start again and, while he made a few plays, the Browns were successfully able to exploit him on a number of occasions.

Stanford was beaten a few times in coverage, caught inside a couple of times and also overpursued a few times in the open field. He was credited with a tackle for loss and made a good stop in the flat, but the Jets will be better off once Darron Lee or Bruce Carter is able to take over this role.

David Harris was also caught out of position a few times, both in the running game and in coverage. He made a couple of plays in coverage and stuffed a run at the goal line late though. Harris has played his best football this year when Erin Henderson was alongside him, so Lee or Carter returning to the starting line-up might not help him that much.

As you'll recall, last week I expressed concern about the ability of Lorenzo Mauldin to hold up against the run in a full time role, but that wasn't as much of an issue this week. Mauldin actually played over 60 snaps - easily a career high and more than any of the linemen. On one play, he did a good job of getting upfield on Joe Thomas to force the run back inside. However, for the most part, the Jets schemed around this, getting Mauldin to crash inside with one of the inside linebackers - usually Stanford - peeling outside to contain the edge. Rex Ryan used a similar scheme against the run at times while with the Jets. This was mostly effective other than on one play where Stanford still got caught inside because he allowed a pulling lineman to get outside leverage on him.

With Mauldin and Mike Catapano freed up to take the majority of the edge rushing reps, they were able to pressure McCown several times between them. Officially, they had four quarterback hits, three of them credited to Mauldin. Each also got in on a run stop and Mauldin also added an interception on a nice diving play.

Jordan Jenkins continues to provide solid but unspectacular play in his rookie year. He was in on a tackle in the flat and had one pressure, but what's more valuable is that he isn't making many mistakes.

Victor Ochi was the only other front seven player to see any time on defense but did not record a tackle or generate a pressure.

Defensive Backs

Bent: One pattern that carried over from last week was that the defensive backs made some big plays in the second half to help secure the win as Marcus Gilchrist intercepted another pass and Calvin Pryor had a hit in coverage to lead to another interception.

Gilchrist almost had another interception earlier on, but was late getting over in coverage on one play and also had a missed tackle. Pryor had some good plays, including a third down tackle and a pass broken up with a hit, but was badly beaten on one play where he committed pass interference in the end zone.

With Buster Skrine out, Marcus Williams was forced into a starting role and, as usually seems to be the case, a bigger workload exposed Williams' weaknesses.

Williams was beaten for two scores and a first down, was completely lost on a deep completion where he appeared to be in position to break up the pass and his effort on the play below left a lot to be desired.



Maybe Darrelle Revis isn't breaking down after all. He set a career-high with a team-leading nine tackles! Of course that's mainly due to him making the tackle after getting beaten for a catch though. Terrelle Pryor had over 100 yards by half time, although the Jets shut him out other than his last minute two-pointer in the last minute. Revis made some solid tackles and deflected a pass late in the game but also got lucky on a couple of incompletions and had a missed tackle on third down.

Rontez Miles made some nice contributions this week in a relief role. He made a good tackle in the flat and was able to prevent a completion on a throw to Gary Barnidge in the end zone.

Rookie Juston Burris didn't fare so well off the bench. He gave up a catch on third down and missed the tackle badly, so he wasn't used again. Darryl Roberts fared a little better with a couple of plays in coverage and a tackle in the flat. He was beaten on a first down and a two-point conversion though and was also lucky not to get flagged on a pass break-up.

Special teams

Bent: The special teams unit executed well when it counted, with Brandon Marshall comfortably recovering an onside kick to ice the win. The Jets also got a boost from their special teams when punter Lac Edwards pinned Cleveland down at the one-yard line with an excellent boot in the fourth quarter, expertly downed by Burris.

Edwards had another rough game though, with a couple more bad punts. On one of those, he nearly fumbled the snap, which was wide. Tanner Purdum is usually one of the most reliable long-snappers around, but he's been extremely shaky over the past few weeks.

Also shaky was Jalin Marshall, who only played a couple of snaps on offense but it didn't seem to help his focus on special teams. Marshall made a couple of questionable decisions in terms of whether or not to field punts and almost fumbled once before being seemingly benched for Nick Marshall. Burris and Ochi each missed blocks in the return game, which didn't help matters.

Nick Folk did a solid job in the kicking game, nailing all five kicks and getting a touchback on all but two of his kickoffs. Neither of the two that were returned went past the 20 with Josh Martin in on each of the tackles. He has very quietly moved into a tie for the NFL lead with 10 total special teams tackles.

Miles was also in on a tackle in coverage, despite the fact the officials missed an illegal block in the back on him. Peake and Taiwan Jones were also credited with special teams tackles.

Tags: BGA

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)

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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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