You ask, we answer. The Post is answering readers’ questions about New York’s biggest professional sports teams, and having our rhythm writers answer them in a series of regularly published mailbags. In today’s installment: the Jets.
The second half of the Jets season went well, mainly because his schedule was so smooth. This year the schedule is brutal. However, with the updates, and hopefully [fewer] injuries, expectations are aptly high. Can the Jets beat the strongest teams in the league? – Robert
I’m not sure how high expectations should be for the Jets, Robert. As you said, the schedule is brutal. Former Jets tackle Damien Woody tweeted last month that the team could be better this year and end with a worse record. I agree with him.
As for beating the strongest teams, I will have to see it to believe it. The Jets haven’t beaten a really good team since 2015, when they beat the Patriots. They’ve won a few games against teams that made the playoffs in recent years, but none were the best team. They will have a chance to change that this season with games against the Chiefs and the 49ers, who played in the Super Bowl in February. Let’s see if the Jets can win one of those. That would make me really believe that this team has improved a lot.
Who are the five starters on the Jets’ offensive line when the season begins? – Adam B
Joe Douglas brought many new faces on the offensive line this offseason. Douglas has emphasized the versatility of the players and I think the Jets will have guys competing in multiple places on training ground and they will let things work out.
Let’s look at each place:
I don’t think there is any doubt that Mekhi Becton will be the left tackle. The Jets took it to the No. 11 pick overall for a reason.
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The Jets re-signed Alex Lewis, and I think he will be the only starter from last year to start again this year as a left guard.
In the center, Connor McGovern will be the boy. The Jets were excited when McGovern hit the market and they think it will be a huge improvement in the medium for them.
The right guard is the most interesting position. Brian Winters is still on the list despite speculation that it would be removed. The team signed with Greg Van Roten, who has started the Panthers. In the end, I think Van Roten wins the job. The Jets signed him for a reason, but Winters hasn’t happened that long by accident. The Jets love his toughness.
George Fant signed with the Jets in the hope that he would play as a left tackle, but Becton’s selection moves him to the right side.
If Sam Darnold had parachuted gently to KC with [Andy] Reid and [Eric] Bieniemy and that offense and [Patrick] Mahomes had fallen into the Jets’ mess, I wonder what both QBs would look like today. – Henry W Katz
It is a fascinating question, Henry. To what extent do the circumstances in which a player enters affect his performance? Mahomes has such incredible abilities that I think it would have been great wherever he went. I think having Reid and Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce etc. has helped speed things up. Maybe it would have taken longer with the Jets, but I still think he has a ridiculous ability that could have come up.
Darnold’s question is more difficult and we should be able to answer it for years to come if the Jets continue to build around him. I still think Darnold will be a good quarterback. However, I’m not sure he would have been in Mahomes’ class, even if he started his career in Kansas City.
Now that the Jets have rebuilt the offensive line, giving Sam more time to hit the field with his progression readings, do you think we’ll see longer passes or do you think the hit to Gase is true that he’s addicted to throwing the sticks like him? did in Miami and last year? – Rich Berger
I think there will be more passes down the field, but I think Adam Gase will stick to what he believes in and that’s a huge dose of short passes. Gase loves wide receiver screens and fast pitches for the quarterback. However, I don’t think you’re afraid of taking photos. We saw it even last year. Robby Anderson was dug quite regularly.
I think an improved offensive line will help in this area. There were games where deep shooting was impossible because Darnold didn’t have time. Darnold has said that one of the areas he worked on this offseason is improving the accuracy of his deep ball. Maybe that’s a sign that they want to pitch deeper.