RICHMOND, VA – The 2018 New York Jets have the ability to shake the commonly associated phrase “same old Jets”. This implies that even when things are going well, it’s only a matter of time before the wheels come off. Although they have quality talent elsewhere on the roster, to shake that feeling it begins and ends with a quality, reliable quarterback. They found their guy at number three in the draft.
This offseason, the Jets were aggressive in finding better talent to buff out their roster. Sam Darnold is the most coveted player of the newly added Jets, and he strutted his stuff today.
In seven-on-seven’s, Darnold threw seven passes. He completed all of them. Five of them were turned into touchdowns, including his last four throws. He hit Robby Anderson, Jermaine Kearse, Tre McBride, Terrelle Pryor, and Jordan Leggett in the end zone, showing off his ability to scan the field and take what the defense is giving him.
In the team drills, Darnold struggled at first, but the line was incredibly porous. Rather than complain and get upset or angry, Darnold put his head down and adapted to the situation. Before the end of practice they started doing two-minute drills, and Darnold went 5-for-6 and hit Clive Walford for a 20 yard touchdown. On the drive he completed four passes to his tight ends with quick throws. He knew he needed to get the ball out quickly with the poor line play, and he did just that. Impressive resolve from a rookie about to play in his second preseason game.
Although Darnold made the tight ends look better, they hardly needed help. Jordan Leggett has been impressive since his return from injury, and he needed to be to stay in the tight end conversation with the strong play of Clive Walford and Chris Herndon. With Herndon absent from camp since they started practicing with Washington, Walford and Leggett have been essentially splitting the snaps with some intermittent plays by Eric Tomlinson. They have both impressed.
The Jets have five tight-ends on their roster for camp, and they will need to cut at least one, probably two. Sterling has not made a huge impact, and is a woeful blocker having made the switch from wide receiver during his time in Jacksonville. Tomlinson is a blocker, and Herndon is a coveted rookie. When it comes to decision time for Mike Maccagnan, he will be looking at Walford and Leggett. Leggett is still practice squad eligible, but he may not clear waivers.
Wide Receivers Will Impress
As of the ESPN Power Rankings released this morning, the Jets are ranked 30th. This shows utter disrespect to the Jets or a blatant lack of research. The “experts” have the Jets behind Bills, Buccaneers, and Bears. I don’t need to talk about the Bills situation, and the Bears and the Buccaneers finished 5-11, just like the Jets, but the Jets have improved more than they have this offseason on paper. The Jets have never been a respected NFL franchise (see “same old Jets”), but the culture is changing, and it will only be a matter of time before the “experts” are forced to respect them.
While there are parts of the Jets roster that is worthy of scrutiny, the wide receivers are not one of those groups. Greg Jennings in an appearance on Colin Cowherd’s The Herd (go to the last minute or so) said “I feel for Sam [Darnold] because I don’t know anyone on the Jets roster.” Robby Anderson finished just shy of 1,000 yards last year, Terrelle Pryor was an 1,000 yard receiver two years ago before his ankle injury, and Quincy Enunwa broke 800 yards with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Jermaine Kearse had an 800 yard season last year, and scored a touchdown in a super bowl win with the Seahawks. One of those men is going to be the number four receiver. Just about any team in the NFL would be happy with one of these guys coming in and playing as their number two receiver. This is not the first criticism of this group this summer, and it’s something that is baffling. This will only be fuel for their fire as they have more doubters to prove wrong.
Leonard Williams is playing like a man possessed, and will take a big step up in year three. There were a couple altercations during practice, although nothing escalated to a fight. Most of the altercations were with Terrelle Pryor, who the Redskins have very little love for. They clearly were trying to provoke him, but being a true professional Pryor walked away even though he was surrounded by a crowd of Redskins.
Happy 45th birthday Wayne Chrebet!