When the calendar changed to 2020, nobody could have foreseen the events that would soon unfold. The coronavirus pandemic changed the world, as hundreds of thousands have sadly passed away, while many others continue to fight. Countries have been shut down, economies are crashing, and millions are forced to hide inside their own homes as we continue to search for a solution. The sports world has come to a halt, although there have been encouraging developments in the possibility of playing despite the COVID-19 threat. With all this going on during the NFL off-season, many players have taken the time to rehab from injury, get back into shape, and much more. That being said, let’s take a look at which New York Jets players can make the most of the delay…
Which New York Jets Players Can Take Advantage of the COVID-19 Delay?
Quarterback Joe Flacco
The Jets signed former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco to back up Sam Darnold this season. The 35-year old veteran is not going to be healthy until mid-September though. Coming off of neck surgery in early April, the Jets took a chance on Flacco not only being an experienced mentor but a proven winner. In Darnold’s two seasons, the Jets are 0-6 when he is out injured – with starts from Josh McCown, Trevor Siemian, and Luke Falk. The last time a backup won a game for the Jets was Bryce Petty in 2016. Flacco has a career record of 98-73, with a 10-5 record in the playoffs. Flacco is going to provide the Jets with one of the best backups in the league – if he is healthy. Now on the back end of his career, Flacco’s health will be key to how long he can last. If the Jets need him to start, there is no good to come out of him being rushed back to do so. As unfortunate as the pandemic is, the time Flacco is able to focus on getting back to full strength is huge towards not just his season, but career outlook.
Tight End Chris Herndon
In 2018, then-rookie tight end Chris Herndon reminded Jets fans how valuable a big-body over the middle of the field could be. With 39 receptions for 502 yards in 16 games, he looked primed for a big second-year jump. Instead, Herndon was suspended four games and ultimately was placed on injured reserve after battling a rib injury. Now entering his third year, a healthy Herndon not only gives the Jets their starting tight end back but also Darnold’s favorite weapon. Their connection in 2018 was promising, and now more than ever do the Jets need Herndon to emerge as the offense’s number one receiving threat.
Linebacker CJ Mosley
Last off-season, the Jets paid four-time Pro Bowler CJ Mosley a massive five-year, $85-million deal to lead their defense. Joining superstar safety Jamal Adams, Mosley was more vocal than anyone, seemingly doing it all on defense in the first 45 minutes of the season. However, a groin injury not only caused the Jets defense’s shutout of the Buffalo Bills in Week 1 to fall apart but Mosley’s season. He only wound up playing in two games in 2019, and while the Jets defense’s performance surprised many – he was sorely missed. Given the seemingly weekly-updates being full of progress, then setbacks, the delay will give Mosley the time to get healthy and properly condition to return to action this summer.
Linebacker Avery Williamson
In 2018, the Jets hoped Mosley and Avery Williamson would form one of the best linebacker tandems in the league. While Mosley at least appeared in two games, Williamson tore his ACL in the preseason against the Atlanta Falcons. The 27-year old fan favorite has been rumored to not only be on the trade block but also a release candidate. Entering the final year of his contract, the Jets would save $6.5-million with his release. The linebacker room is loaded too, with Mosley, Neville Hewitt, James Burgess, Blake Cashman, and the newly signed Patrick Onwuasor. Williamson is by far the best linebacker behind Mosley, yet his health situation is currently up in the air. If he can return to full strength and the Jets hold off for now on releasing him, Williamson could prove he is the best option to play alongside Mosley in 2019.
Linebacker Blake Cashman
Drafted in the fifth-round in 2019 out of Minnesota, Blake Cashman did a solid job in his five starts in 2019. He totaled 40 tackles, 0.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery for the Jets’ overachieving defense. Cashman’s promising start was quickly finished after suffering a torn labrum. Similar to Williamson, Cashman enters 2020 with a mirky outlook because of his injury and the depth at linebacker. Being he is only 24 years old and has a higher ceiling than Hewitt and Burgess certainly helps Cashman’s case. He just needs to come back healthy and ready to earn his spot on the roster this summer.
Studying the Playbook:
Wide Receiver Breshad Perriman
The former 26th overall pick by the Baltimore Ravens has had a wild ride in the NFL. Breshad Perriman will only be 27 years old this season, yet he is on his fourth team and has only made 10 starts in his career. Injuries had severely limited his reps…until he broke out late last year. Over the final three games, Perriman totaled 17 receptions for 349 yards and four touchdowns. With the loss of Robby Anderson in free agency, the Jets need Perriman to replace Anderson’s production. Coming over from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offensive juggernaut, Perriman needs to get well adjusted fast to the quick-pass based offense head coach Adam Gase runs. Working with Darnold more than anything would help, but to have extra time to review the playbook will never hurt.
Wide Receiver Denzel Mims
Gang Green also turned to the draft to solve their receiver issues with second-round pick Denzel Mims. The Baylor product is a physical monster with a 4.38 40-yard dash in a 6’3″, 207-pound frame. In his final season, Mims totaled 1,020 yards and 12 touchdowns, providing the Bears with a valuable downfield and red zone threat. For the Jets, they hope he can do that and more in his first season. Baylor runs a rather simple route tree, leaving Mims in need of developing a more diverse one in the pros. The coronavirus delay will give him time to work on his routes, as well as learning the playbook because chances are the Jets will need him to be a day one starter.
Defensive Lineman Quinnen Williams
The third overall pick last year, Quinnen Williams played well in a limited role. While his 2.5 sacks in 13 games (9 starts) are rather underwhelming, it was in part due to defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ usage of him. Williams has a ton of upside and has worked on conditioning during the pandemic. At only 22 years old, he has barely scratched the surface of his potential. That is once he clears things up off the field. Earlier this off-season, Williams was arrested at a Delta check-in counter at LaGuardia Airport for allegedly carrying a handgun. Due to the virus, his court day has been pushed back, with a possible suspension in play from the NFL. Williams needs this time to get this situation under control because he is in for a big second season.
Safety Jamal Adams
The biggest storyline of the Jets off-season thus far has been their contract negotiations with safety Jamal Adams. As it currently stands, the Jets do not plan on extending him prior to the start of his fourth season. Earlier this off-season, the Jets picked up his fifth-year option, leaving Adams under contract through 2021. Arguably the best safety in the league, Adams’ wants a long-term deal done now. An All-Pro safety this past season would certainly have many teams interested if he is on the trade market. For the Jets, they need to clear things up with the heart and soul of their team before it gets ugly – and they certainly have plenty of time to do so.