After a variety of moves this week and really back when free agency started, the New York Jets made a conscious decision to go young.
Out with the old and in with the new quite literally.
That sets up for a historic 2021 season that is guaranteed to be filled with a lot of highs and a lot of lows.
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Historically Youthful Roster Heading Into 2021
We knew the roster was going to be young back a few months ago after the initial wave of free agency and at the conclusion of the 2021 NFL draft, the Jets boasted one of the top-five youngest rosters in the league.
Now after the latest rounds of cuts and waiver wire claims the Jets are finally No. 1 in something: youth.
Will Parkinson, TOJ podcast host, shared the graphic on social media that featured Gang Green as the youngest NFL team in the league (average age: 25.132) heading into 2021.
Other teams that were featured in the top five include the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns, and the Dallas Cowboys.
There are pros and cons to being young.
Youth brings excitement and that fresh feeling you get from opening a brand new bag of chips: smell, taste, and a crisp crunch. Also a sense of invincibility, players don’t know their limitations or what they’re capable of. That kind of energy can be infectious in a locker room and bring a college-like atmosphere to the table.
Although on the other side of the coin, it also brings a lack of experience.
Get Ready for a Roller Coaster of Horror
We mentioned earlier there are pros and cons to being young.
On offense, rookie quarterback Zach Wilson’s youth has reinvigorated the fan base with a belief that he can be the savior and the face of the franchise. Obviously, there are going to be hiccups on the path, but that level of excitement can only go from a brand new young guy going through it for the very first time.
While on defense, the youth in the Jets’ secondary is unparalleled.
Gang Green in a surprising move cut one of their starting and most experienced corners in Bless Austin on Wednesday, September 1.
With that shocking move being considered, the Jets’ current group of cornerbacks have combined for 9 NFL starts, per Jets X-Factor analytical guru Michael Nania.
To make that number even more jarring, current starting corner Bryce Hall accounts for 7 of those 9 combined starts.
With that level of inexperience, this Jets secondary is going to be put to the test early and often during the upcoming 2021 campaign.
No one should feel bad for the Jets because this is what they chose to do.
Despite having ample cap space and a slew of draft picks, the green and white openly ignored the position.
The only real chance this cornerback group is going to have at being respectable is solely reliant on the pass rush up front. If they’re able to either get there on a consistent basis or create havoc, their jobs will be a lot easier.
Of course, if that doesn’t happen, which is among the realistic possibilities considering the array of injuries (Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry, and Jarrad Davis), even the best corners in the league can’t cover forever. That’s especially true for this group which isn’t anywhere close to that level of play.
When you look at the 2021 schedule there aren’t that many daunting opposing quarterbacks:
- Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
- Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons
- Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
- Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
That’s four passers in five games (Jets play the Bills twice as a divisional opponent). Everyone else on the docket is either completely unproven or average.
Although it’s worth noting that if any professional quarterback has plenty of time in the pocket, they’ll be able to slice and dice an opposing defense.
Robert Saleh and Jets’ defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich’s nature is to allow the front four to rush and get after the passer by themselves. In theory that would’ve worked if all of the Gang Green defenders stayed healthy.
Since they didn’t, the coaches will have to call an audible at the line of scrimmage on their initial plans and adapt. One of the ways they’ll try to adapt is by blitzing more than they wanted to and providing some exotic looks.
This is going to be a journey for the ages and the Jets are committed to this youth movement. We’ll see how it plays out this season.