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Sunday, March 22, 2020

In Joe We Trust

With most Americans quarantining themselves during this horrific Coronavirus, NFL free agency and preparation for next month's draft are the only sports that fans can follow and get excited about. The good news for New York Jet fans is that there is a new sheriff in town namely General Manager Joe Douglas. According to Pro Football Focus in 2019 the Jets offensive line ranked 28th out of the 32 NFL teams. And according to their stats:

 "The Jets averaged just 0.7 rushing yards before contact per attempt, the lowest mark of any team in the NFL. Add in that they allowed pressure in 2.5 seconds or less on 27.5% of their dropbacks (second-highest mark in the NFL), and it’s not hard to see why they find themselves at 28th on this list."

Douglas, a former offensive lineman at the University of Richmond learned the importance of having a quality offensive line. He cut his teeth in the NFL front office under the tutorship of NFL legend Ozzie Newsome with the Baltimore Ravens. Newsome also knew the importance of winning in the trenches. Jonathan Ogden, Marshal Yanda, Edwin Mulitalo and Ben Grubbs are only a few of the brilliant offensive line draft picks by Newsome. Douglas also learned from Newsome that patience is a virtue in free agency and sometimes it is better not to make an initial big splash but to wait for second tier players, then to pounce on them. The biggest thing Joe Douglas learned was that teams are still built mainly through the draft and free agency should be used to plug holes on the roster. Mike Maccagnan did some good things but he did not know how to build a foundation. His move to trade up for Sam Darnold was excellent but for every good move there were two bad moves like drafting Christian Hackenberg and Jachai Polite. Jet fans should feel good that Joe Douglas is making the personnel decisions now and there will not be anymore signings like Trumaine Johnson. The Jets are finally on the right track. Let's see if Adam Gase can be the coach he thinks he is. I'm not convinced about Gase but things are looking up.

Joe Douglas Free Agent Moves
To date here are the signings Joe Douglas made in free agency:

Alex Lewis, guard. The Jets reached an agreement with left guard Alex Lewis on a three-year, $18.6 million deal that includes $6 million guaranteed. Lewis was picked up by Douglas last year from the Ravens for a late round draft pick. He allowed 2 sacks and had 6 penalties. Lewis's biggest issue is staying healthy. His body seems to break down as the season moves on. With that being said I'm a believer that if you are a lineman and are surrounded by good players, your play improves. As someone who focuses on line play I wanted Lewis back and we should see improvement from him this year.

Brian Poole, cornerback. The Jets re-signed the veteran cornerback to a one-year deal worth $5 million guaranteed. Poole was number one on my list of Jet free agents they needed to re-sign. When he was signed last year from the Falcons, I thought the Jets were getting Buster Skrine 2.0. Boy was I wrong. Not only did Poole exceed my expectations, he was probably the Jets best cover man in 2019. My only regret is that it is a one-year contract.

Neville Hewitt, linebacker. This is another one-year deal. This former college safety played for Adam Gase in Miami and converted to linebacker. This is an excellent depth move especially with the injuries to C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson. Hewitt played more defensive snaps (718) than any linebacker on the team last season. Hewitt had 2 interceptions and 3 sacks. There were a couple of games where it seemed he was all over the field in on almost every tackle "a la" David Harris.

Arthur Maulet, cornerback. Still another one-year contract. He started 6 games last year but he is more of a sub who is a very good special teams player: He scored his first career touchdown on a blocked punt. Pro Football focus ranks Maulet's play last year at 65.2 which is above average.

Josh Andrews, center. The Jets agreed to a one-year deal with the former Colts lineman. Notice a pattern here with the one-year deals. Andrews is 28-years old and will be a back-up. The Jets lost two back-ups in free agency (tackle Brent Qvale and guard Tom Compton) so this is a depth move. For the record I thought it was a big mistake letting Compton go. He played some good football last year. Nevertheless the knock on Andrews is his lack of experience. He was un-drafted. One good thing is that he has played 98 offensive snaps in his career and has no penalties.

Marqui Christian, safety. The Jets agreed to a one-year deal worth close to $2 million with the former Rams safety. Christian is a big-time special teamer. In fact, he played 355 snaps last season, the second-highest total on the Rams. Another depth move. By the way if you can, check out Christian's hair in his college picture. Very impressive!

Greg Van Roten, guard. Van Roten, 30, signed a three-year contract with the Jets. Van Roten is from Rockville Center, Long Island and went to Chaminade High School. Van Roten, played on four NFL teams and one CFL team, started 27 games for the Panthers -- all at left guard. He missed the final five games last year due to a dislocated toe. In the past two seasons, he was charged with only three accepted penalties (2 in 2019), and only allowed 1 sack last year. He graduated the University of Pennsylvania. He studied at the Wharton School of Business and received his Bachelor of Science in Economics with a Concentration in Marketing. 

Connor McGovern, center. McGovern, was a fifth-round pick by the Broncos in the 2016 draft and has started games at both guard and center. In 2019 McGovern was moved to center full time. He started all 16 games last season and finished as one of just three players in the league who were not flagged with a penalty.This seems to be a pre-requisite from Joe Douglas not wanting offensive linemen with a penchant for penalties. He only allowed one sack and had a very good rating from Pro Football Focus. One wonders why Broncos OL coach Mike Munchak in his first year in Denver would let him go.

George Fant, tackle. Fant signed a three-year, $30 million deal that includes $13.7 million guaranteed. Fant is being given the responsibility of protecting Sam Darnold's blind side without starting a full season. He played basketball in college and is definitely an athlete with an upside. But to be honest this is a bit of a head scratcher and it may have been just as good to keep  Kelvin Beachum for another year but he is most likely gone. 

Pierre Desir, DB
Just signed. Cut by the Colts.  A year ago, he signed a three-year, $22.9 million extension with the Colts, but his play slipped last season despite a career-high three interceptions. At first it sounds like he is just a body but he seems to have talent if playing in the right scheme. He had an off year in 2019. Said one NFL scout: 

"Good player, down last year. Mindset seemed to change a bit." 

Also a questionable scheme fit, as the Colts played the highest-percentage of Cover-2 in the league, per ESPN. This is another Good signing.

Gone But Not Forgotten (For Some)
Trumaine Johnson, CB -Don't let the door hit you on the way out. A bum from the day they signed him. Thanks for nothing Mike!

Darryl Roberts, CB -This was more of a cap move with the Jets saving $6 million dollars. He was better in 2018 and played some very good safety at the end of that year.

Blake Countess, S-Just a body the Jets signed in October. He was active for 6 games but did nothing. No loss here.

Brandon Shell, T-Signed a 2 year contract with Seattle for $11 million dollars. I had high hopes for him but he never really improved from his rookie season. He looked silly a lot when edge rushes would waltz around him and I'd be yelling at my TV screen: "Move your feet."

Brent Qvale, T-Signed with the Texans. Anyone who plays on my team for 5 years and I still can't pronounce his name, get rid of him. A bench player who did not distinguish himself, he will not be missed.

Maurice Canady, CB-Signed with the Dallas Cowboys. Canady was picked up by the Jets off waivers from the Ravens. He started 3 games and I thought he played well. Remember the Jets secondary plays virtually without a pass rush. Canady was better covering in the slot than on the outside but with the Jets thin in the secondary should have tried harder to keep him.

Tom Compton, G-He signed with the 49ers. I really wanted him back. He played well for the horrid OL the Jets put on the field. If it came down to Compton or Lewis, Douglas made the right choice with Compton being on the wrong side of 30. Still he could have added some nice depth. 

Are the Jets better off today than when free agency started? The answer is a unanimous yes. The Jets have solidified their offensive line but still have a lot of work to do. With the 5 free agent offensive line signings this takes a lot of pressure off of Joe Douglas heading into the draft next month. There are 4 blue chip offensive tackles in this year's draft. If one is not available at the 11th pick, it is not as bad now with all the talent that they signed. They can pick up a tackle in the second or third round. The importance of re-signing Brian Poole cannot be over emphasized and now if they can draft a good corner, the secondary is pretty well set. Last year Bless Austin was a nice surprise and should do better this year. 

Best of the rest free agents available
According to CBS sports these are the best of the free agents left. Some may have signed already. Nevertheless, a few might help the Jets.

1. Jadeveon Clowney, Edge 
Rumors swirled at the beginning of free agency with him and the Jets. If it was a one-year "show me"deal at $12 million with incentives up to $18 million, I'd take a shot. Clowney is a generational talent who can't stay on the field. Have the incentives based on the percentage of defensive snaps. A long shot. I think he ends up in Seattle or with the Giants.

2. Jameis Winston,QB

3. Robby Anderson, WR
Robby has got to realize there are 25 wide receivers in the college draft that may go in the first three rounds and Mel Kiper says all 25 can start. Why would they pay Anderson a huge long term multiple year deal when you can get a rookie WR locked into a rookie contract? It is "no ones" fault his free agency hit at the wrong time. Robby should resign with the Jets for a one year deal at $10 million.

4. Breshad Perriman, WR

5. Logan Ryan, DB

6. Jason Peters, T

7. Shelby Harris, DL

8. Damarious Randall, S

9. Ndamukong Suh, DL

10. Jimmy Smith, DB
A former first round pick of the Ravens who Joe Douglas is very familiar with. He only started 27 games in the last four years. Jets may want to take a flyer on this 31 year old DB who was suspended for PEDs last year but needs to squeeze out as much as possible before retirement. Let's draft a DB in the first three rounds and sign Smith to a one year contract.

11. Markus Golden, OLB
I can't figure this one out. Every time I watched the Giants play, Golden was the best player on their defense and it wasn't even close. He had 10 sacks ( 27 QB hits and 13 tackles for a loss) and was so close on a ton of other plays to getting more. Giants should sign him but if they don't Douglas should try and get this 29 year old second round pick of the Cardinals out of the University of Missouri.
                         For those of you stuck in your home!


Coming later this week: Green Rewind's First Mock Draft

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