Tuesday - May 21, 2019

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Deeper & Down – New York Jets




NEW YORK

JETS


MAJOR NEEDS:
T, OLB, G, CB, FS, WR

DEFENSE

The biggest offseason question is likely to be “The problem with

Vernon
.” Vernon Gholston was considered by many draftniks to have awesome physicals, but very dubious mentals – poor work ethic, prone to go missing in matches, lack of effort, lack of discipline. It would then be very easy to question the acquisition of Gholston given those question marks – save for the fact that despite the question marks he was still a consensus (just) Top 10 pick, and as a physical specimen coupled with his college stats, he bordered on freakish (14.5 sacks in 13 games for Ohio State). That said? Gholston – like another
Vernon (

Davis
) of recent seasons until lately – hasn’t done much to justify his first-round pick and five-year contract deal. If you are going to cut a player on a contract that high, now is the season to do it as there are no cap ramifications in doing so. I expect the franchise to reach out to explore restructuring his contract and making it laden with incentives, but should that fail to be agreeable then it’ll be an interesting time for Gholston in the coming weeks … who knows, maybe if Rex Ryan both dropped him mid-game, then dropped his pants to him post-game, then he, too, could turn it on?

Now, Gholston aside. Like him, love him or loathe him, Ryan has breathed a new life back into this defense. Belief oozes out of every pore whenever they take to the field and as such, they are playing with a swagger that is daring teams to beat them. Nowhere has this been more embodied than in cornerback Darrelle Revis. He has systematically shut down opposing wide receivers with alarming regularity in much the same way that Nnmandi Asomugha and Champ Bailey have done in seasons past. Opposite Revis,  Lito Sheppard has been okay,  Dwight Lowery has been okay … but because teams are targeting you to avoid throwing near Revis, that can make your numbers look worse than they are. Even accounting for that; however, it would be no surprise to see the Jets looking to acquire an upgrade here in the draft.

The linebacker corps – Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, David Harris – are a very solid unit. Ryan has them purring. Undoubtedly the “weakest link” in the linebacking corps is former first-round pick Bryan Thomas, who made only marginal contributions overall to the units production. As with CB2, expect the Jets to address this position as Thomas’ and Gholston’s failure to provide heat off the edge is leaving Pace carrying the burden, and while he’s good someone opposite him would not only increase his value and productivity in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues, but also that of the whole unit, which is no small feat.

At safety, Kerry Rhodes has been enigmatic again this season, often flattering to deceive. He has yet to return to the stellar form he demonstrated to the league in his breakout rookie season and Pro Bowl-caliber sophomore year. Three seasons later and we’re still waiting for a return to form. It got to the point that Ryan even took to benching him for his subpar play. Ultimately? I think the Jets want to keep
Rhodes. The guy is undoubtedly skilled, but like Gholston, like Braylon Edwards (more later) there are question marks regarding his commitment to football – especially when in previous postseasons he’s been involved in film work and modeling (just like Edwards). The fact that Ryan hasn’t publicly disclosed what was said in their private meeting after the season is an unusual display of discretion for the normally open and opinionated head coach and lends further support to the belief that they are trying to turn him around.

Expect
Rhodes – if he stays – to be on a short leash and for the Jets to pick up a cover player of suitable quality later in the draft. Just in case …

At strong safety? Jim Leonhard showed exactly why he was brought over from the Ravens with Bart Scott, and their loss has been the Jets’ gain. No change needed here.

The defensive unit – as you would expect from a former
Baltimore defensive coordinator and the son of Buddy Ryan (defensive coordinator of

Minnesota
’s Purple People Eaters and defensive coordinator with three different super-bowl teams. Not to mention being credited for designing and implementing the 46 defensive scheme) is tight and aggressive. As a defense/special teams unit it will likely have been picked up by savvy dynasty owners last season. If by some minor miracle it wasn’t? It’s an elite defensive unit and is likely to remain so for some seasons to come short of only two or three players to fill out their roster.

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