Positioning

Ranking the Jets’ offensive position groups from most to least stable – The Athletic

future-dyanmics

It’s hard not to feel optimistic about the Jets. No, really. They’re not a playoff team yet, but general manager Joe Douglas has done an impressive job digging them out of the hole Mike Maccagnan threw them in. They have legitimate talent on both sides of the ball. If some of that talent can evolve into stars, they might finally close the gap between themselves and what, in recent years, has felt like the rest of the league.
But this, of course, is all on paper. And while things do look promising, there are some areas worth monitoring as the offseason program rolls along these next few weeks. Over these next few days, we’ll take a look at them — first on offense, then on defense.
Basically, which positions look the most stable, and which have some cause for concern.
We’ll start with Zach Wilson and the offense.
The starters: Breece Hall, Michael Carter
Notable reserves: Tevin Coleman, Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine
Why: I’ve covered the Jets in some capacity since 2014. I can’t remember another year when there were few, if any, concerns with the three playmaking positions. Douglas really has revamped the running back, tight end and receiver positions.
And no position on the Jets’ roster has fewer questions right now than running back. The Jets already deploy a back-friendly scheme. Now, offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur has legit, game-changing potential with his top two backs — arguably more than Kyle Shanahan ever worked with in Cleveland, Atlanta or San Francisco.
Hall, whom the Jets traded up to draft in the 2022 second round, is a “home-run hitter,” coach Robert Saleh likes to say. He’ll be the bell cow and spelled by Carter, who rushed for 639 yards (4.3 average) and four touchdowns in 14 games last season. Having Coleman and Johnson as insurance is a major factor, too.
The starters: C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Conklin
Notable reserves: Jeremy Ruckert, Trevon Wesco
Why: It doesn’t look like the Jets have a Travis Kelce in this group, but they do have two very good players in Uzomah (a big-bodied, do-it-all option) and Conklin (versatile athlete), along with a future starter in Ruckert. It will be fascinating to see how LaFleur deploys the trio this year. This won’t be like in the past, when former coaching staffs utilized depth only amid injuries. LaFleur will use every weapon in his arsenal at various points on Sundays.
The starters: Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Garrett Wilson
Notable reserves: Braxton Berrios, Jeff Smith, Denzel Mims
Why: The only reason receiver checks in after running back and tight end is because of some depth concerns. They’re not overly alarming, but the position is just not as secure as running back and tight end.
The versatility of both Moore and Wilson gives the Jets extreme flexibility. If Davis and Wilson are the two Week 1 outside receivers, and something happens to them, Moore can play outside just as effectively as inside. As he moves out, Berrios can come off the bench. Likewise, if something were to happen inside, Berrios, in whom the Jets have plenty of faith, can fill in as a reliable safety blanket for Zach Wilson.
A repeat of 2021, when Davis and Moore both landed on injured reserve, is the only thing that can really derail the position. The fact that happened last year is why receiver is No. 3, not 4 or 5. Losing two of the top three (Davis, Moore, Wilson) would force Smith and Mims into a starting role, something neither has proven he can handle.
Granted, Davis landing on the injury report again is more likely than Moore, who was seldom injured at Ole Miss. Davis has missed at least one game in all but one of his five NFL seasons.
The starters: George Fant (LT), Laken Tomlinson (LG), Connor McGovern (C), Alijah Vera-Tucker (RG), Mekhi Becton (RT)
Notable reserves: Conor McDermott, Max Mitchell, Dan Feeney, Chuma Edoga
Why: The flip potential of this position is among the greatest on the Jets’ roster — both on offense and defense. The interior line might be among the better ones in the league. Tomlinson is a Pro Bowler while Vera-Tucker, the Jets believe, has All-Pro potential. McGovern is an above-average center. The concerns are on the outside, and they’re real.
Fant has durability issues and last year was the best of his career. That could be a sign of things to come, or he could regress to the mean. There are few tackles in the NFL with more physical talent than Becton, but will he mentally commit himself, stay in shape and eliminate some of the technical issues that held him back as a rookie and in camp last year?
This Jets line can be one of the NFL’s best if Fant and Becton alleviate those potential red flags. The lack of depth will lead to a catastrophic breakdown if they don’t.

The starter: Zach Wilson
Notable reserves: Joe Flacco, Mike White
Why: Make sure you read these next few words carefully before you take to the comment section: This is not an indictment of Wilson. Quarterback falling No. 1 on the worry meter is simply because Wilson is, after his rookie season, still an unknown. The Jets are confident in him. They still see a franchise quarterback. It’s just tough to place the quarterback position, considering its importance, anywhere other than No. 1 until there is tangible proof of progress from Wilson. Right now, there’s just faith from the men whose jobs are linked to his success or failure.
Wilson’s rookie season was somewhat disappointing as he struggled in his acclimation to the pro game. He wasn’t seeing things clearly, which led to him pressing the issue and trying to be a hero. The resulting myriad struggles were hardly a surprise. Wilson is not not the first, nor will he be the last, to endure such a learning curve. That’s what makes this season so important. The Jets will go as far as Wilson takes them.
It was impossible to glean anything about Wilson’s progress from New York’s one media-open, laid-back OTA last week. He certainly looked more decisive, but the Jets didn’t run any 11-on-11 drills. It will be interesting to see if that changes over the coming weeks.
(Top photo of Michael Carter: Jim McIsaac / Getty Images)

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