WELCOME BACK: Jets defensive backfield star power, which went underwater with Revis Island. But it's about to resurface with 6-foot, 215-pound JAMAL ADAMS, who could be a first-team All-Pro this year. The No. 6 pick out of LSU in 2017 is dynamic and springy, and he finds ways to be near the ball. He can do everything you'd ask of a safety.
In his fourth season at the helm, TODD BOWLES can finally be comfortable uncorking the disguised pressure packages that shot him to the top of head coaching search lists when he was the Cardinals' defensive coordinator. Bowles's blitzes, like most, require man coverage. Former Cowboy MORRIS CLAIBORNE was surprisingly serviceable as a No. 1 corner last year, but the DBs behind him were suspect. This offseason New York spent $45 million in guaranteed money on Rams free agent TRUMAINE JOHNSON, a bona fide No. 1 stopper. If capable slot corner BUSTER SKRINE becomes more consistent, Bowles could really unleash second-year safeties Adams and MARCUS MAYE, and that alone could mean a few more wins.
With their talent on the defensive line the Jets should do better against the run than last year, when they finished 15th in yards allowed per attempt. LEONARD WILLIAMS has rare nimbleness for a 302-pound end. Nosetackle STEVE MCLENDON is a true interior plugger. Newcomer HENRY ANDERSON was quietly stout for the Colts last year.
It's impossible to predict when QB SAM DARNOLD, the No. 3 pick in April, will start, but the Jets don't have to rush him, because JOSH MCCOWN is a pro's pro. He runs an offense the way it's designed, and that's what most coaches want more than anything. When the rookie's time comes, coordinator JEREMY BATES needs to get him on the move and outside the pocket, where Darnold was at his best at USC.
The Jets have gone six seasons without a tight end having 500-plus receiving yards. (Dustin Keller had 815 in 2011.) This year New York's options at TE are '17 fifth-round pick JORDAN LEGGETT, '18 fourth-rounder CHRIS HERNDON, and former Raider CLIVE WALFORD, and it's all but a lock that this streak will continue. This greatly limits the flexibility of their offense.
2017 RECORD 5W 11L
SI'S 2018 PREDICTION 9W 7L
15th TEXANS [Saturday]
THE JETS have talent inside, but this unit is ranked so low because it lacks quality edge rushers; their top returning sacker is DAVID BASS, who had 3½ in 2017. To compensate, coach TODD BOWLES will have to use a blitz-intensive approach.