Jets Offensive Profile Under Todd Bowles
2015-2017 Pass Attempts Rank: 15th, 23rd, 25th
2015-2017 Rush Attempts Rank: 10th, 13th, 17th
2015-2017 Play Volume Rank: 6th, 24th, 26th
2015-2017 Yards Per Play Rank: 15th, 20th, 21st
Unaccounted for Air Yards from 2017 (Rank): 927 (21st)
Unaccounted for Carries from 2017 (Rank): 112 (18th)
Projected Starting Lineup
QB: Josh McCown
RB: Isaiah Crowell
WR: Robby Anderson
WR: Jermaine Kearse
WR: Quincy Enunwa
TE: Jordan Leggett
LT: Kelvin Beachum
LG: James Carpenter
C: Spencer Long
RG: Brian Winters
RT: Brandon Shell
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Passing Game Outlook
Josh McCown is the Jets’ tentative favorite to start Week 1 after logging QB8 overall fantasy results in Weeks 1-13 before breaking his left (non-throwing) hand in Week 14, ending his 2017 season. The Jets re-signed McCown to a one-year, $10 million deal, then traded up to draft Sam Darnold at the No. 3 pick. McCown remains capable of moving an offense, but this is his age-39 season with a face of the franchise waiting in the wings. It would be a major upset if he lasted until the Jets’ Week 11 bye.
GM Mike Maccagnan took a savvy, one-year, $6 million flyer on Teddy Bridgewater after Bridgewater missed almost all of the 2016 and 2017 seasons with a dislocated knee joint and “several” ligament tears. Bridgewater did participate in OTAs and drew resounding praise for his practice play, theoretically increasing Bridgewater’s trade value on a Jets team that already has its quarterback of the future and an ideal veteran mentor in McCown. Still only 25 years old, Bridgewater should have legitimate trade value as injuries set in elsewhere during training camp. Longtime NFL executive Mike Lombardi recently suggested the Bucs trade for Bridgewater to start in Weeks 1-3 and send Jameis Winston a message. My expectation is we’ll see Bridgewater start games in 2018, just not for the Jets.
Sam Darnold stunningly fell into Maccagnan’s lap when the Browns took Baker Mayfield with the first pick and the Giants went running back. A gunslinger cross between Matthew Stafford and Tony Romo, Darnold went 20-4 as a 24-game starter for the USC Trojans, completing 64.9% of his career passes with a 57:22 TD-to-INT ratio at 8.5 yards per attempt. Respected talent evaluator Daniel Jeremiah gave Darnold his highest-pre-draft grade in the last three quarterback classes, which of course include Carson Wentz, Deshaun Watson, and Jared Goff. Darnold’s turnover tendencies did elicit some Jameis Winston comparisons after he threw 13 interceptions and lost nine fumbles in 2017. It’s a mere matter of time before Darnold takes over, however, and at minicamp Jets OC Jeremy Bates wouldn’t rule out starting him in Week 1. Whomever plays quarterback for the 2018 Jets will likely be an underrated QB2.
Robby Anderson emerged as one of pro football’s premier deep threats in 2017, finishing 12th in the NFL in Air Yards (1,487), 21st in receiving yards (941), 18th among 93 qualified receivers in PFF’s predictive Yards Per Route Run metric, and No. 6 in yards accrued on 20-plus-yard targets (408), behind only Tyreek Hill, Brandin Cooks, Marvin Jones, DeAndre Hopkins, and Antonio Brown. Anderson was the fantasy WR14 until McCown’s Week 14 injury. Eight of Anderson’s nine TDs over the past two seasons came from outside the red zone, setting him up for positive-touchdown regression should he experience better scoring-position fate; Anderson flukily managed to secure 0-of-5 targets inside the ten-yard line last season. Anderson’s biggest concern is his off-field decision making; he was arrested in May of 2017 for resisting arrest with violence and again last January on multiple felony charges, although all were dismissed. Anderson wound up pleading no contest to reckless driving. Beat writers believe Anderson may face a short suspension, but he’s still well worth targeting at his ninth- to tenth-round ADP.
Quincy Enunwa paced the 2016 Jets in receiving yards (857) and touchdowns (4), only to aggravate a bothersome neck injury at 2017 minicamp. He underwent surgery for a bulging disk last August, missed the season, and was a limited participant in 2018 OTAs. In Enunwa’s 2016 breakout year, then-OC Chan Gailey used him in the slot on 66% of his snaps, outside receiver on 21%, and tight end on 13% of plays. Enunwa’s injury combined with his non-traditional usage creates uncertainty under a new offensive coordinator with in-limbo quarterback play. At his peak, Enunwa is a big (6’2/225), physical yards-after-catch maven whose game best profiles to the slot. He offers PPR appeal in the final rounds of drafts.
The Jets have a slew of third-receiver candidates beginning with incumbent No. 2 Jermaine Kearse, who quietly set career highs across the board (65/810/5) in his first year with Gang Green. Kearse ran over half of his routes in the slot, however, and will lose snaps there to Enunwa. 2017 fourth-round pick Chad Hansen proved more pro ready than third-rounder ArDarius Stewart, out-snapping his higher-drafted competitor 35% to 24%, although Hansen drew just 17 targets and Stewart finished with more rushing attempts (7) than catches (6). Stewart was suspended two games for PEDs to begin the season. The wild card is one-year, $4.5 million flyer Terrelle Pryor, who is questionable for training camp after offseason ankle surgery. Kearse remains the heavy favorite to round out New York’s three-receiver set across from Anderson and Enunwa.
Tight end is also up for grabs. The Jets are believed to be high on 2017 fifth-round pick Jordan Leggett, who missed his rookie season with a right knee injury. Leggett reminded me of Jermaine Gresham coming out of Clemson as a plus-sized (6’6/258) possession target who could become a jack of multiple trades but seems unlikely to master one. The Jets claimed 2015 top-70 pick Clive Walford off waivers after a disappointing three-year stint in Oakland, at the end of which Walford was pushed aside for superior receiver Jared Cook and better blocker Lee Smith. Eric Tomlinson is the Jets’ version of Smith, blocking on 76% of his snaps. Fourth-round pick Chris Herndon may be Gang Green’s highest-ceiling tight end, but Herndon tore his MCL in the Miami Hurricanes’ regular season finale, was limited at offseason workouts, and got arrested for DUI in June after causing a major accident in New Jersey.
Running Game Outlook
Isaiah Crowell landed a three-year, $12 million deal from the Jets after four up-and-down years in Cleveland, where he finished last season 38th among 47 qualified backs in Football Outsiders’ rushing Success Rate despite running behind an underrated Browns line that respectably ranked 14th in both Adjusted Line Yards and yards created before contact. The 2017 Jets line finished 29th and 16th, respectively, in those marks. Crowell’s passing-game efficiency declined each year in Cleveland, and he routinely lost passing-down snaps to Duke Johnson. The Jets have talked up sophomore Elijah McGuire as their poor man’s version of Duke. As a likely two-down back with poor offensive line play, Crowell isn’t an exciting fantasy target. I think Bilal Powell is simply better than him.
The Jets seemingly envision 2017 sixth-round pick Elijah McGuire as a dangerous multi-phase weapon; in June, RBs coach Stump Mitchell went so far as to liken McGuire to LaDainian Tomlinson. “He can do it all,” said Mitchell. “He can catch, he can run as a running back, and he can run routes as a receiver.” McGuire logged 105 touches behind Matt Forte and Bilal Powell as a rookie, struggling on the ground (3.58 YPC) but shining in the air (10.4 YPR). McGuire also earned the Jets’ highest pass-blocking grade from PFF. McGuire’s stock will especially rise if the Jets part with 30-year-old Powell, which would save $4 million under the cap. Even though Powell was New York’s best back for the last three years, the coaching staff stereotyped him as a limited role player with declining special teams value. McGuire and Powell are late-round dart throws with to-be-determined usage. The Jets could conceivably cut Powell and keep ex-Seahawks RB Thomas Rawls, who will try to make the club on a minimum ($705,000) deal.
2018 Vegas Win Total
The Jets’ Win Total opened at 6.0 with -130 odds to the under. Gang Green failed to reach six wins in three of the last four years and will almost certainly start multiple quarterbacks this season. GM Mike Maccagnan’s aggressive offseason did give the Jets their best quarterback room in decades, however, and Warren Sharp rated New York’s 2018 schedule sixth softest in football, including the NFL’s easiest slate in Weeks 1-10. The offense has a chance to be league average, and the defense is much more talented than most realize after being infused with CB Trumaine Johnson, ILB Avery Williamson, and DE Henry Anderson. Especially at a bigger payout, the Jets’ over is one of my favorite 2018 win-total bets.