Survey results reveal the pulse of the New York Jets fanbase as the 2020 season rapidly approaches.
This piece is the first in a three-part series analyzing the fanbase’s 2020-and-beyond predictions. Subcribe to Jet X (first month free / portion of proceeds donated to COVID-19 relief) to ensure access to the entire series.
A few days ago, I sent out a survey asking Jets fans to rate 57 key members of the roster on a scale of 0-to-10. The results were extremely fascinating, and thus, I felt inclined to run another survey, this time focused on questions regarding the future of the franchise.
Around 200 fans submitted their opinions in my 50-plus question survey. With so many answers to analyze, this series will be broken into three parts.
Let’s dig into the first chunk of data.
Fast forward to Week 1 of the 2021 season. Will these people still be with the Jets organization?
I asked whether 11 different current Jets players and coaches will be with the team in a year’s time.
Despite the fact he will be a free agent after the season, fans are extremely confident that Brian Poole will be back next year (85%). About four out of five fans (79%) think Jamal Adams will be back as well. Adam Gase received the least confidence, with only 40% thinking he will make into a third season at the helm.
Will the Jets make the playoffs in 2020?
Not a ton of confidence from the fanbase regarding the team’s likelihood of making the tournament, even with an extra Wild Card spot added this year.
I’m a bit surprised by this result. Typically, fans are a lot more optimistic. The pragmatism here is impressive. A 30% shot at the playoffs seems about right for this team.
Who will lead the Jets in targets?
After leading the Jets with 122 targets in 2019 (26 more than second-ranked Robby Anderson), Jamison Crowder is the heavy favorite to lead the team again. It seems extremely likely that will be the case, as there were no new additions made at wide receiver that could lay a significant hit to Crowder’s portion of the targets.
Chris Herndon will certainly be a huge part of the offense upon returning, but he is not enough of a target hog to challenge Crowder. In 2019, Crowder averaged 7.6 targets per game, while Herndon averaged 3.5 targets in 2018.
Smart voting here.
How many games will the Jets win in 2020?
I gave the option to choose from 2-to-12 wins – didn’t want any ridiculous answers overtaking the data.
The fans again came through with surprisingly realistic answers. About 84% of voters believe the Jets will win somewhere from 6-to-9 games – 44% see 8 or 9 wins while 40% see 6 or 7.
This is sensible. The Jets could absolutely scrape their way to .500 or slightly above with internal progress at key spots (Sam Darnold, Quinnen Williams, offensive line, cornerback), but there still is not enough top-tier talent for them to be elite just yet. At the same time, the team still has enough holes to tumble backward into another disappointing season.
A small contingent (8%) sees the team breaking through to 10 wins, while a similar bit (7%) envisions a 4-or-5 win disaster.
Overall, the average vote was 7.6 wins, a tad over the team’s current projection of 7.0 in Vegas.
Where will the Jets rank in the AFC East?
Hardly anybody saw a last-place finish for the Jets. However, even with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, only about 14% see the Jets winning the division for the first time since 2002. The vast majority (83.7%) see the Jets in second or third. Is the fanbase showing some respect for the talent amassed in Buffalo?
Who is the better all-around player?
This one was particularly interesting to me, as I think Tarell Basham is a slightly better player than Jordan Jenkins, but I certainly did not expect the fanbase to back me up on this one. Jenkins has gaudier sack totals, which win over the casual onlookers, but there is plenty of evidence as to why Basham is better.
In 2019, Basham surpassed Jenkins in many key advanced metrics. He recorded a better pressure rate (13.4% vs. 9.7%), run stop rate (7.8% vs. 4.5%), and Pro Football Focus coverage grade (70.2 vs. 55.0). All three of Basham’s numbers were above the league average among edge rushers, while all three of Jenkins’ ranked in the bottom-30%.
Jenkins’ collection of “hustle sacks” – sacks recorded thanks to lucky circumstances rather than actually beating a blocker to penetrate the pocket – makes him look better than he is.
It’s close – both players are, quite simply, very pedestrian edge defenders – but I lean a tad towards Basham.
Where will the Jets passing offense rank? (efficiency-wise)
I asked fans to estimate where they see the passing offense ranking in terms of efficiency – meaning something like yards per play or DVOA rather than total passing yards (which is not a good indication of actual effectiveness).
After ranking 32nd in passing DVOA this past season, fans see a big leap coming in 2020, but not too big. About 81% see the Jets’ passing attack ranking somewhere from 11-to-22. The most common vote was the 17-to-22 range (43%). More fans see another lowly finish (13% for the 23-to-27 range) than a surge into the top-10 (6%).
Where will the Jets rushing offense rank? (efficiency-wise)
Similar to the passing game, the popular choice was that the Jets rushing offense will finish in the middle of the pack. About 73% of voters chose either 11-to-16 or 17-to-22.
Slightly over one-quarter of fans see a more extreme result – 18% see them ranking bottom-10, while 10% see them ranking top-10.
Where will the Jets offense rank?
About half of fans see the Jets offense being slightly below-average. Another quarter sees them leaping a bit higher into the 11-to-16 range, while about 19% envision the unit remaining in the bottom-10. Only 5% see a monumental jump into the top-10.
Throughout all three of these offensive categories, fans typically see the Jets improving substantially off of their 2019 woes (31st in DVOA, 32nd in points per drive), but have realistically subdued expectations, not looking for anything better than somewhere around average.
Who will be the Week 1 starting right tackle?
The newly-signed George Fant has won over the fanbase, kicking 2019 third-round pick Chuma Edoga to the curb. Perhaps Joe Blewett’s optimistic film review on Fant’s sneaky progress is responsible for turning the tide?
Chris Herndon – over/under 650.5 receiving yards?
In his rookie season, Herndon posted 502 yards, but he finished the season on a roll. Over 10 games from Weeks 6-17, Herndon ranked eighth among tight ends with 455 receiving yards. That’s an average of 45.5 per game, pace for 728 yards over 16 games. About two-thirds of the voters think Herndon will maintain that pace over a full season in 2020.
Breshad Perriman – over/under 800.5 receiving yards?
Perriman has played 51 games in his career. Those 51 games can be split into two portions – 46 games of doing almost nothing, and five games of absolute domination.
Over his first 46 career games, Perriman averaged 22.9 yards per game (pace for 366 yards). In five games this past December, Perriman averaged 101.2 yards (pace for 1,619 yards).
It seems more likely that Perriman’s production will lean towards what he did in the first 90% of his career games rather than what he did in the most recent 10%. Combining numerous factors, I projected Perriman to post about 750 yards in 2020, which, of course, would land him below the 800-yard mark. About 62% of fans agree that he won’t put up massive numbers.
What will Quincy Wilson do?
Quincy Wilson is one of the team’s interesting wild cards. He possesses second-round talent and flashed it frequently over his first two years, but has battled injuries and is coming off of an awful 2019 season. It’s anybody’s guess as to where he will fit into the picture among the cornerback group. He has more than enough talent to win the open competition for a starting spot, but is probably the most volatile cornerback in the fray.
Fans are wisely subdued in their hopes for Wilson. Nearly half of fans (48%) see Wilson proving to be a solid backup or rotational piece. Another 22% see him as an average backup, while 23% see him as an average starter.
The consensus seems to be that fans do not expect anything drastic from Wilson, either positive or negative.
Will Jamal Adams break the single-season safety sack record of 8.0?
Jamal Adams picked up 6.5 sacks in 2019, all coming within a four-game stretch from Weeks 8-11. It seemed like he would cruise his way to the single-season sack record for a safety – currently held by Adrian Wilson (8.0 for the Cardinals in 2005) – but he did not register another one throughout the rest of the season.
Sacks only tell a tiny portion of the story for Adams. It’s his pressure total – not his sack total – that encapsulates his impact as a blitzer. His 23 pressures in 2019 set a record for the position, breaking his own record (18) set in 2018.
Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see if Adams can surge forward and smash the sack record to accompany his pressure record. He is as capable of doing it as any safety that has come along in the past 15 years. The voter consensus is that he won’t (62%), but not by an enormous margin.
Select all rookies that will be starters by the end of the season.
I asked the voters to select each draft selection (excluding the almighty Braden Mann) that they think will be a starter by the end of the season.
Mekhi Becton and Denzel Mims should be starters right away, so nearly every voter selected both players.
Bryce Hall was the favorite pick besides Becton and Mims, with about half of voters expecting he will break his way into the starting lineup at some point.
Jabari Zuniga (39%), Cameron Clark (29%), and Ashtyn Davis (21%) have their contingent of believers, but most voters expect their ascension into the starting lineup to wait until at least 2021.
Only 5% see La’Mical Perine overtaking Le’Veon Bell. Just one wee voter sees the unimaginable scenario of James Morgan overtaking Sam Darnold – as a rookie.
Who will lead the Jets in interceptions?
Interceptions are always a difficult statistic to predict because of how rare they are. There is so much volatility in a player’s interception totals from year-to-year. Take former Jets cornerback Marcus Williams, for example, who snagged six picks in 2015 and only four throughout his other four seasons in the league.
Marcus Maye only has four picks in 38 career games (1.7 per 16 games), but he took the crown rather comfortably here. Pierre Desir followed Maye at 24%. Desir snatched a career-high three interceptions in 2019 but had only two over his first five seasons.
Brian Poole (5 picks in 4 seasons), and Bless Austin (yet to make first career pick) tied for third place at 15% each.
Yeah, the Jets do not have anybody who resembles a ball-hawk in the secondary. That takes little away from the overall coverage impact of players like Maye, Poole, Austin, and Jamal Adams, but still, it would be a nice bonus to have someone back there with a nose for the ball – although it should be noted that Adams has created a lot of turnovers in other ways (forcing and recovering fumbles, pressure creating INTs, tipped INTs, tight coverage leading to INTs, etc).
C.J. Mosley (5% of votes) was vastly underrated here. Mosley’s total of four interceptions in 2016 stands as the most in a single season by any current member of the roster. That total tied Mosley with Eric Weddle for the Ravens lead, making him one of only two players on the roster to lead a team in interceptions (Maye did it for the Jets in 2017 with only 2).
With 10 career interceptions in 79 games (2.0 per 16), Mosley’s interception numbers are right on par with every defensive back on the team.
Who will get more snaps?
The consensus is that the ageless Frank Gore will be the No. 2 to Le’Veon Bell, while young La’Mical Perine waits in the wings.
Gore already has built an impressive track record of mentorship, with former proteges Marlon Mack (Indianapolis), Kenyan Drake (Miami), and Devin Singletary (Buffalo) all going on to find success after playing alongside him.
With a potential hole at running back opening up after 2020 (if the Jets decide to rid themselves of Bell’s contract), the Jets are clearly hoping that a year with Gore can set Perine up to take over in 2021.
Staying cheap at running back is the smart way to go in the NFL, and it seems Joe Douglas understands that based on the proficient understanding of positional value he has showcased thus far. Expect the Jets to groom Perine – and his minuscule fourth-round contract – to handle the bell-cow role for two or three seasons before finding another inexpensive ball-carrier to take his place.
Which undrafted free agent has the best chance of making the team?
Memphis EDGE Bryce Huff has the fanbase’s confidence, as slightly over half (52%) of voters think he has the best shot to make the squad out of Joe Douglas’ nine undrafted pickups. Huff – who broke down his own film on the Cool Your Jets podcast – ranked fourth in the nation among edge rushers with 64 pressures in 2019.
Wide receiver Lawrence Cager (28%) and cornerback Lamar Jackson (15%) were the only other players to receive a significant amount of votes.
With the NFL most likely canceling all preseason games, the road for undrafted rookies will be tougher than ever before.
Which lineman will end up playing the most snaps outside of the current projected starters? (Becton, Lewis, McGovern, Van Roten, Fant)
I asked voters to select the offensive lineman they think will play the most snaps outside of the current projected starters – Mekhi Becton, Alex Lewis, Connor McGovern, Greg Van Roten, and George Fant.
Three players took the majority of the votes – Chuma Edoga (39%), Brian Winters (30%), and Cameron Clark (27%).
It makes sense for Edoga to win the vote since, considering his looming right tackle battle with George Fant (presuming there is a battle), he has the best chance to start out of the options presented. If he does not win the starting job, Edoga should be the backup swing tackle since the only other tackle on the roster with any NFL starting experience besides he and Fant is Conor McDermott (two starts).
Winters, if not cut prior to the season, will likely be the top backup at guard, taking over at either the left or the right if Lewis or Van Roten go down. Clark (likely transitioning from tackle to guard) is lined up to be the second backup at guard, but if he impresses enough in camp, he could take over that top backup spot and allow the team to feel comfortable with cutting Winters.
If C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson are LB1 and LB2, which linebacker will rank third in snaps at the position?
It seems like a given that C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson will spearhead the inside linebacker position. The debate is regarding the crowded depth chart behind those two, which features a whopping four players who could make a legitimate claim for the LB3 spot.
Free agent pickup Patrick Onwuasor, a former Ravens teammate of Mosley, is the fanbase’s heavy favorite (56%). Blake Cashman (18%) and Neville Hewitt (16%) split about one-third of the votes, while James Burgess did not have many supporters (10%).
I agree with the voters here. Led by Burgess, Cashman, and Hewitt, the Jets got bottom-tier production out of their linebackers in 2019. Onwuasor has a slightly better track record than his three competitors to go along with experience next to Mosley and the fact that he is the group’s lone Joe Douglas pickup.
Burgess, Cashman, and Hewitt each have their own particular strengths that could be maximized in small roles, but Onwuasor may be the best option to take over full-time snaps if a starter goes down.
Quinnen Williams – over/under 6.25 sacks?
One of the most polarizing questions in the survey. Fans were split about 50-50 regarding whether Williams will have a breakout season that sees him collecting at least 6.5 sacks.
Williams only had 2.5 sacks in 2019, but none of them were impressive. Two were completely unblocked while the half-sack was simply Williams touching the quarterback on the way down as he scrambled near the line of scrimmage.
However, Williams showed tremendous progress as a pass-rusher late in the season, promising the potential for a massive breakout in Year 2. Over his last four games, Williams posted a pressure rate of 15.6% (by my tracking), which would be an elite mark among DTs and was more than triple his rate of 5.1% over his first nine games.
Only 22 years old, entering the NFL with just one year of starting experience in college, battling two nagging injuries during his rookie season, and finishing the year on a high note, I’m with the 54% portion of voters that are taking the over. I think Williams is going to break out. His sack total may not be gaudy – I see him picking up somewhere from six to seven, so the actual over/under question itself is a tough one – but in terms of pressure, he should have a much-improved year.
Pressure is the name of the game. Any sacks that come along with it are simply a bonus.