New York Jets: One thing stands between challenging in AFC East

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 28: Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets comes out to the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 28, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 28: Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets comes out to the field prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on October 28, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The New York Jets stacked talent on their roster by any means necessary, then purged the front office. Only one thing stands between New York and the top of the AFC East.

Not everyone was a fan of the draft had by the New York Jets. This likely comes down to their feelings about drafting the best player available or not. New York ignored team needs when it took Quinnen Williams third overall. Then it completed a front office purge that rocked the NFL.

We are both fans of this draft strategy. The NFL Draft is too fluky, rosters too fluid to be planning for depth chart holes two or three years down the line. Just take the best player on the board and find a place for him. The draft doesn’t have to be as hard as some teams make it. But with all of the additions and changes made by New York, are the Jets ready to challenge for the AFC East? They need one more thing.

Two brothers from New York, Dan Salem and Todd Salem, debate the New York Jets in today’s NFL Sports Debate.

Todd Salem:

With Quinnen Williams next to Leonard Williams and in front of the newly signed C.J. Mosley, the New York Jets should have a potent front seven on defense. On the back end, Jamal Adams looks to be a star in the making. Trumaine Johnson wasn’t as good in his first year in New York as he had been for the Rams, but there is talent in this unit as well.

The interesting thing is the Jets may not have to lean entirely on their defense anymore. That has been the team’s M.O. this decade, as the offense has failed to generate much of anything. But things look different in 2019. New head coach Adam Gase is an offensive guy. Sam Darnold is ready to make a massive, year-two leap. Le’Veon Bell is in town to help him; as is former All-Pro Kelechi Osemele.

The Jets had a league-worst offensive line a season ago, but which comes first: a line that opens more space for a runner, or a runner who can find the space that is created? Bell is one of the best in the league at finding space, and a healthy Osemele will be a boon.

More from NFL Spin Zone

The real question with the Jets is whether they splurged on the right pieces to make a jump into the playoff hunt. According to Football Outsiders, all of the Jets’ free-agent signings were overpays. Some heavily so. This includes Bell, Jamison Crowder, Henry Anderson and Mosley. But an overpay is only an issue if the team encounters holes elsewhere that cannot be filled because of a lack of cap space.

I know you don’t have an issue with drafting Williams and trying to fill in holes later in the draft, but do you feel this roster could have been better designed through the draft and free agency? Head coach Adam Gase likely does, based on how he essentially got New York’s former general manager fired. Money spent on Mosley could have gone to the offensive line or perhaps an edge rusher. The Jets are relying an awfully lot on some big names with question marks, with Bell at the forefront.

It is too much to ask to expect New York to challenge for an AFC East title. The middle of the AFC seems weaker than in past years though thanks to a shaky-looking North. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the Jets challenge for a Wild Card berth as Darnold takes a step up in his development. Worst-case, this is the best team in New York.

Dan Salem:

Roster construction is such a fickle thing because team chemistry gets built during offseason workouts and the pre-season. It gets built by your head coach and his coordinators. Team chemistry is integral to a successful roster, but one thing always trumps all. Great players make everyone better.

I have no issue with the money spent by the New York Jets to acquire great players. A few great rookies plus a few great veterans is the formula for building a great team. You need chemistry and coaching to complete the rise to relevancy, but it begins with great players.

Adam Gase likely has no issue with the great players on his roster, but he obviously took issue with the man who acquired them. Or perhaps he executed a power play to perfection, seizing control of a promising roster full of potentially great players. Regardless, the New York Jets have hit reset on everything we think we know about them.

The media loves to roast and destroy team moves. New York’s firing of their general manager was no different. I too felt it was unnecessary at first, but then I saw the bigger picture. The Jets have been cleaning house around Sam Darnold. This was the final step. Everything is now riding on Gase and Darnold, but that is exactly how football works.

Belichick and Tom Brady, Walsh and Joe Montana — every great dynasty begins with a coach and quarterback pairing that works better than anyone could imagine. No one stands in the way now in New York.

Next. 2019 NFL All-Overpaid Team. dark

Get the best players available, any way possible. If you have the money, then spend it. If you have the draft picks, then use them. The New York Jets should be in the playoff conversation this season because the team is now full of talent on both sides of the ball. Until Tom Brady shows his age, I won’t suggest the Jets are real competition for the Patriots. But the AFC  Wild Card is an open tournament in 2019. This New York Jets fan expects his team to win.