The New York Jets are going through a rebuilding stage this spring and many are questioning what the plan for the offense is this season. The team is in full transformation on both sides of the ball. On offense, they hired former New Orleans Saints assistant John Morton to be the new offensive coordinator and cut ties with longtime center Nick Mangold, WR Brandon Marshall, QB Geno Smith and both offensive tackles in Ryan Clady and Breno Giacomini.
The objective of GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles is finally put their own stamp on a team that has been going in so many directions the past decade. Maccagnan just completed drafting his third crop of rookies last week, and in that group he hopes will forge the future of his offense.
The success of this draft class hinges on four players taken from the third to the sixth round – three receivers and one running back. In the third round, Maccagnan selected WR ArDarius Stewart out of Alabama, a receiver who is known for getting himself open and playing a physical brand of football. In the next round, the Jets added Cal WR Chad Hansen, a tall (6’2″) another undaunted kid who can be an Eric Decker type for them.
TE Jordan Leggett of Clemson was selected in the fifth round. Leggett is a versatile 6’5″, 260-pound seambuster who can play in-line, the slot and as an H-back. The Jets took Louisiana-Lafayette RB Elijah McGuire who can help them as a receiver, runner and returner.
The Jets held their rookie minicamp this past weekend and got their first look at these players and several more. It’s difficult to tell who impresses and who doesn’t at these non-contact gatherings but make no mistake, the Jets are going to younger and hopefully more exciting this season.
Their wide receiver group is in flux and Bowles said this weekend that no one should be secure in their position. Decker is coming off hip and shoulder surgeries and many had him penciled in as a June 1 cut. But cooler heads may prevail on that notion. Decker is one of the few veterans the Jets have on offense and they may not pull the trigger. Quincy Enunwa will likely be a starter at the other WR spot but the depth chart after that is fuzzy.
Robby Anderson, who made the team as a UDFA out of Temple last summer, was recently arrested in Florida and there will be disciplinary action stemming from that incident for sure. Jalin Marshall, another UDFA from last year, has already been suspended for first four games this season for violating the league’s PED policy. And, in other kick to the gut, it was announced earlier this spring that former second round pick Devin Smith will miss the entire 2017 season with a torn ACL.
Those developments have created a lot of opportunities for the new crop to get some extra reps in camp. Bowles also said that he expects to see more of WR Charone Peake, a seventh round pick in last year’s draft out of Clemson this summer and let us not ignore the fact that Quinton Patton, a former fourth round pick of the San Francisco 49ers, was signed in free agency.
Stewart, Hanson and Leggett are firmly in the team’s plans, however. McGuire may have to wait a little longer for his reps as he is further down the depth chart behind Matt Forte and Bilal Powell. But truth be told, Forte is 31 and Powell is frequently injured, so McGuire could be called upon sooner rather than later.
This summer it will be interesting to see how this new Jets offense shakes out. Their QB competition will likely result in veteran free agent Josh McCown winning the starting job and the offensive line appears to be set with Wesley Johnson at center, Brian Winters and James Carpenter at guard with Ben Ijalana at LT and free agent pickup Kelvin Beachum on the right side.
Leggett will have minimal competition at tight end, especially with Austin Seferian-Jenkins suspended for the first two games of the regular season. Morton like to use his TEs frequently, which will be a breath of fresh air for Jet fans who haven’t had a decent TE in quite some time here.
The wide receivers may be what defines this Jets offense this season. If the rookies can step up and play significant roles, these Jets may actually be more watchable than we all anticipate.