What are people getting wrong about the 2021 New York Jets?
The world of sports discussion is all about narratives. An opinion is formed about something (be it a person, team, event, etc.) and then it spreads like wildfire, becoming the customary description of that particular thing without anyone else actually taking the time to watch or research it themselves.
With that in mind, here are some of the most off-base narratives surrounding the 2021 New York Jets.
Misconception #1: The Jets offensive line was bad
I see a lot of people rag on the Jets’ offensive line as if it was a monstrosity of a unit akin to the groups that wrecked the team’s offense in previous years (mainly from 2018-19).
While the Jets did not necessarily have a “good” offensive line in 2021, they certainly did not have a “bad” one, either. The unit ranged from below-average to solid in most statistics.
New York’s offensive linemen combined for a composite Pro Football Focus grade of 69.4 in 2021. That was better than the 2021 NFL average for offensive linemen (67.7) and ranked 12th-best out of 32 teams.
The Jets offensive line was called for a total of 29 penalties, via PFF, tying it for the seventh-fewest in the NFL.
On the ground, New York’s offensive line helped to power a run game that ranked 13th-best in the NFL with 4.4 yards per carry.
It’s in pass protection where the Jets offensive line has the most room to improve, but even there, the group was still better than the lines of many other teams.
New York’s offensive line checked into the No. 19 slot in this pass-blocking ranking compiled by Ben Baldwin, which combines PFF’s grading system and ESPN’s pass-block win rate metric.
Final pass protection ratings pic.twitter.com/7N5NBgZ76k
— Computer Cowboy (@benbbaldwin) January 12, 2022
The Jets offensive line is not yet where it needs to be for New York to become a consistent winner. With that being said, the unit took sizable steps forward in 2021 and clearly established itself as a group that sits somewhere in the league’s middle-50%. It was not “bad”.
Misconception #2: Morgan Moses had a great year
Morgan Moses enjoyed a nice season for the Jets. New York’s offensive line would have been in much worse shape if the team did not sign Moses and instead ended up with someone like Conor McDermott or Chuma Edoga playing at right tackle all year. Moses showed he is still a starting-caliber tackle, and once he becomes a free agent in March, he will probably find another team that will want him to start.
However, I do think that Moses’ 2021 performance is a bit overrated by some. While he held up respectably, he was still subpar.
Moses was one of the primary culprits in the team’s pass-protection woes. He gave up a team-high 49 pressures in 2021, which ranked as the sixth-most among all tackles and the fourth-most among right tackles.
From an efficiency perspective, Moses allowed pressure on 7.2% of his pass-blocking snaps, which ranked 54th out of 67 qualified tackles.
Moses created a lot of space in the run game, earning a 74.9 run-blocking grade at PFF that ranked 19th among qualified tackles. His pass protection was often problematic, though.
The Jets should try to re-sign Moses as a backup – he is a fantastic option in that role – but bringing him back to start should not be an option. They have to shoot higher than that. It has gone overlooked how much he struggled to protect the right-side edge in 2021.
Misconception #3: C.J. Mosley is still a star
Mosley ranked fourth in the NFL with a career-high 168 total tackles, suggesting that he performed at a level similar to what we saw from him in his prime.
A deeper dive makes it clear that Mosley was not quite as impactful as that number suggests.
When you rank eighth among linebackers in missed tackles (17), seventh in yards allowed in coverage (598), and fifth in touchdowns allowed in coverage (4) as Mosley did in 2021, you cannot be considered a star linebacker. That’s simply too many mistakes for a position where mistake limitation is arguably the primary goal (rather than the generation of positive/splash plays).
Mosley definitely wasn’t bad, though. He led all linebackers with 43 run stops and ranked third at the position with 60 total stops (stops are tackles that constitute a poor result for the offense). His playmaking was good. He was just much more mistake-prone than he used to be when it came to tackling and coverage.
As a Raven, Mosley racked up highlight-reel plays at an elite level but was similarly elite at avoiding mistakes. His missed tackle rates were low and his coverage was far more consistent. In 2017, for example, Mosley ranked seventh among linebackers with 53 stops but way down at 42nd with nine missed tackles.
A black-or-white take doesn’t get it done when evaluating Mosley. He is not bad and he is not a star. In 2021, he was a solid starting linebacker- nothing more, nothing less.
Mosley showed in 2021 that he still has the athletic ability to fly around and make plenty of big plays. To get back into peak form, he’s got to couple his playmaking knack with a rediscovering of the incredible discipline and fundamental soundness that made him a standout player in Baltimore.
Perhaps he can accomplish that if the Jets take some pressure off by stabilizing the defense around him. It’s definitely worth noting that Mosley had a lot of weight on his shoulders in 2021 as the veteran leader of an extraordinarily young defense.
Play: 👉 the Jet X Offseason Simulator
Misconception #4: John Franklin-Myers mailed it in after signing his contract
John Franklin-Myers signed a four-year, $55 million contract extension with the Jets after their fourth game of the season. Most observers agreed it was a great deal for the team at the time, but when a player gets paid, he puts a target on his back.
Some fans started to get critical of Franklin-Myers after he signed his new deal. They claimed he mailed it in and stopped producing at the same level.
That really isn’t true at all, though.
Through Week 4, Franklin-Myers had 17 pressures on 108 pass-rush snaps for an incredible pressure rate of 15.7%. For reference, the 2021 league average for edge defenders was 10.2%.
However, much of that production came in an explosion of a Week 4 game against the Titans in which Franklin-Myers had nine pressures, which amounted to a season-high. Over his three games prior to the Tennessee outburst, Franklin-Myers had a solid pressure rate of 11.4% and averaged 2.7 pressures per game.
That is about exactly the same level of production that Franklin-Myers amassed post-contract. From Weeks 5-18, Franklin-Myers averaged 3.0 pressures per game on an 11.1% pressure rate.
Ultimately, Franklin-Myers finished the year ranked 18th among edge defenders with 53 pressures. That’s pretty much exactly what the Jets are paying him to be. The $13.8 million average annual value of his contract ranks 23rd-highest among all active contracts for edge defenders.
I think the fact that Franklin-Myers’ extension came after the Tennessee game set expectations way too high for him. That was an incredible performance and arguably the best of his career. The timing of Franklin-Myers’ extension led many fans to start comparing him against a standard that would be unrealistic to expect him to maintain.
In reality, Franklin-Myers continued to perform at a level that lines up with what the Jets expected from him based on the contract they gave him.
Misconception #5: Corey Davis was terrible
Corey Davis certainly had a disappointing debut season in New York after signing a three-year, $37.5 million deal in free agency. Nobody can debate that.
In only nine games, Davis set career-highs in drops (6) and fumbles (2). He also caught only 46.2% of his contested targets after grabbing over 60% of them in each of his previous two seasons. To top it all off, Davis often lacked sync with his quarterbacks as five interceptions were thrown on targets intended for him. Davis only had four picks thrown his way over his first four seasons.
That’s a lot of bad stuff. But even with all of those woes, Davis still managed to make a decent number of impact plays and show that he has the ability to be a quality starting receiver if he can just get back to his career norms in the aforementioned departments where he struggled.
In the eight games where he did not leave early due to injury, Davis caught 32 of 56 targets for 477 yards and four touchdowns. That’s 4.0 receptions for 59.6 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game – pace for 68 catches, 1,013 yards, and 8.5 touchdowns over 17 games.
That’s not too shabby at all. If he gets his drop and contested-catch rates back to normal, he is capable of doing even better.
Overall, Davis still managed to generate yardage at an above-average efficiency in 2021 despite everything he struggled with. On the year, Davis averaged 1.74 yards per route run, which ranked 34th out of 89 qualified wide receivers.
Like Mosley, the goal for Davis in 2021 is to minimize the mistakes. Both players made their fair share of big-time plays but canceled out the value of those plays with an onslaught of blunders, in turn making them merely “average” players overall.
And that’s what Davis was in 2021: average. Mistakes were aplenty for the former Titan, but it cannot be forgotten that he carried the offense in Carolina and made humungous plays against Tennessee.
New York needs more from Davis than merely average-level play, but he could’ve been a lot worse than he was. In fact, Davis wasn’t even the worst 2021 free-agent wide receiver in his own stadium. Kenny Golladay of the Giants averaged only 37.2 yards per game and didn’t even score one touchdown in 14 appearances.
Golladay will have a $21.2 million cap hit in 2022, currently slated to be fourth-highest among wide receivers. Davis will have a $13.7 million cap hit, 17th-highest.
If he stays healthy, Davis could easily warrant that cap hit next year.