Jets must copy Bills in order to beat them
Joe Douglas has done a swell job acquiring assets. It doesn’t take an Ivy League grad to acknowledge that.
“Ultimately for us to get to where the great teams are, the most consistent teams are, you do that through the draft. It’s the most team friendly market in sports,” the Jets GM said during a press conference in early March. “For us to really be that team that’s consistently competing for Super Bowls, we have to hit on our draft picks.”
The goal is always to create a Super Bowl team, but the first step is to be a force within the division. Douglas could also stand to learn a thing or two from the Jets’ top division rival.
The rebuild must set Gang Green up to compete with the Buffalo Bills.
Since the Jets are in a rebuild (again), they shouldn’t be expected to compete with the Bills yet. But the goal of the rebuild is a stacked roster — like the one in Buffalo.
It wasn’t long ago the Bills were considered a clown show.
Since the realignment in 2002, the Bills had only five winning seasons and finished third or fourth within the division 14 times. Before their 2020 playoff win against the Indianapolis Colts, they went 25 years without a playoff win.
But after finishing 13-3 and reaching the AFC Championship along with the superstar ascension of quarterback Josh Allen, the Bills have the fifth best odds to win the Super Bowl in 2021.
Those Bills should be the Jets’ target. Not the Dolphins, who are ascending after finishing 10-6, but have a question mark in QB Tua Tagovailoa. Not the Patriots, who still have Bill Belichick as head coach, but still don’t have a long-term answer at quarterback.
Most successful quarterbacks have a combination of those aspects surrounding them— like how the Bills built their roster around Allen.
The Bills became a top-10 rushing team and their defense allowed just 301.9 yards and 16.5 points per game in Allen’s second year, when he picked up 3,599 total yards and 29 total touchdowns, leading the Bills to a 10-6 record.
Then the Bills traded for star receiver Stefon Diggs and Allen exploded, becoming an MVP candidate as the offense averaged 30 points per game. Their defense allowed 23 points per game, but Allen’s eye-popping improvement allowed for some regression on that side.
Bills GM Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott created a loaded roster by hitting on draft picks like All-Pro cornerback Tre White and Pro Bowl linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and supplementing it by acquiring Diggs and defensive backs Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde in trades and free agency.
After hiring head coach Robert Saleh, Douglas has to give Saleh the roster to compete with the Bills. He has the draft capital to do it after dealing away Jamal Adams, Leonard Williams, Sam Darnold and Avery Williamson.
All signs say the Jets will draft Zach Wilson at No. 2 next week. But what they do with their next 20 picks over the next two years will be more important.
As talented as Wilson is, he should not be running around for his life because of a bad offensive line and unreliable weapons like Darnold did for three seasons.
Protecting your future quarterback should be priority number one.
Pro Football Focus ranked the Jets offensive line as the 29th worst in the NFL. With Mekhi Becton and Alex Lewis holding down the left side, the rest of the line needs an infusion of talent.
With the No. 23 pick, Gang Green could improve the right side of the offensive line by drafting Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey and moving Connor McGovern to right guard. Or they could draft Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins.
With a receiving corps including Corey Davis, Denzel Mims, Jamison Crowder and Keelan Cole, Wilson will have weapons to throw to. They could snag a running back in the draft, though, with fantastic draft options like Alabama’s Najee Harris, Clemson’s Travis Etienne, Memphis’ Kenneth Gainwell and North Carolina’s Javonte Williams and Michael Carter.
The Jets’ defense was bad last season, allowing 28 points and 387 yards per game, both in the bottom ten in the league. But defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins, who signed with the Jets after five years in New Orleans, believes that his new team is already improved.
“We’re as talented as any defense in the league, and we’ll continue to add more pieces and build this thing up,” Rankins said. “Once it’s time to really get rolling and play real football. I think we have the makings of something truly special.”
As talented as any defense in the league is a stretch, but the Jets’ defense isn’t full of scrubs. The unit has some playmakers like Rankins, safety Marcus Maye, DT Quinnen Williams, DE Carl Lawson, and even linebacker C.J. Mosley if he stays and returns to his old form. No matter what, though, the cornerback group needs an upgrade.
Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley, a top-15 talent, could fall to the Jets due to back issues. Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II is another stud who may be available at No. 23. Later in the draft, Florida State’s Asante Samuel Jr., Kentucky’s Kelvin Joseph, Syracuse’s Ifeatu Melifonwu and Georgia’s Tyson Campbell could make sense.
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