Throughout the offseason, NewYorkJets.com reporters Eric Allen, Ethan Greenberg, Olivia Landis and Randy Lange will each give their predictions to a series of questions regarding this year's Jets.
Today's question: What has been the most under-the-radar storyline of the Jets' offseason?
EA: The expected return of C.J. Mosley. If Sam Darnold missed 14 games last season and was considered a top-five quarterback in the NFL (Darnold has this kind of potential by the way), all we would be talking about — from a football perspective — would be Sammy D. While Mosley isn't a signal-caller, he was brought here to be the quarterback of the defense. Mild-mannered off the field, Mosley is an alpha dog on it. He played two-plus healthy quarters last season and was a one-man wrecking crew against the Bills with 6 tackles and 2 pass defenses plus a pick-six and a fumble recovery. He recently told ESPN's Rich Cimini on the latter's "Locked In" podcast that the foundation was set last season and he wants the Jets to start fast just the way they ended it. In 79 career games, Mosley has registered 572 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 37 PDs, 10 INTs, 7 FR and 6 FF. The Jets had a good defense in 2019 and they already have a star in the defensive backfield in safety Jamal Adams. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is one of the game's most outstanding teachers and Joe Douglas gave him a couple of more pieces on draft weekend who could contribute immediately in Ashtyn Davis and Jabari Zuniga. And if the Jets get a healthy C.J. Mosley back, this unit can reach another level.
EG: The strategic retooling of the secondary. All eyes have understandably been on the OL changes and the skill players that GM Joe Douglas brought in, but he has also, perhaps sneakily, revamped the secondary. After letting go Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts, both opening-day starters from 2019, Douglas re-signed nickel Brian Poole, who played an instrumental role on the defense last season. He then swiftly pounced on Pierre Desir after the Colts released him on March 21 and the Green & White agreed to terms with the veteran cornerback March 22. Douglas then added to safety and corner in the draft with third-round pick Ashtyn Davis and fifth-round pick Bryce Hall. Both players had pre-draft injuries and could have been selected earlier had they been fully healthy. Davis adds depth to a safety group that includes All-Pro Jamal Adams and Marcus May and the Cal product will most likely have an immediate role on special teams. Hall led the nation in pass defenses in 2018 before his shortened senior season and is a Day 2 talent who could play meaningful snaps for the Jets down the road. To top all of this off, Douglas made a low-risk, high-reward move, trading his final pick (No. 211 overall) to the Colts for former second-round pick CB Quincy Wilson. Douglas has done a nice job simultaneously creating depth while improving the secondary.
RL: The versatility of the offensive line acquisitions this offseason jumps out at me. Among the draft picks, Mekhi Becton figures to be the LT but GM Joe Douglas noted that Becton played the right side often as part of Bobby Petrino's strongside/weakside arrangement through '18 so Becton "could also play right tackle if need be." Cameron Clark said, "I definitely feel like I'm a tackle in the NFL" but added that he "can play all five positions on the line." Among free agents, George Fant has played mostly LT but some RT, Connor McGovern has started at C and RG and even pitched in at LG for a game and Josh Andrews has played C and RG. (Greg Van Roten was Carolina's LG the past two seasons.) Mix in Brian Winters, Alex Lewis and Jonotthan Harrison, who've all worked at multiple interior spots over the years, and Chuma Edoga, who got reps at both tackles last year, and I'd be hard-pressed to give you my favorite starting OL four months down the road. As Douglas has said a few times, "We're really going to try to put our best five out there. I think we're going to have great competition at multiple spots on the offensive line."
OL: The drafting of young QB James Morgan. All eyes have — understandably — been on the revamping of the offensive line. Joe Douglas made a promise this offseason to provide better protection around QB Sam Darnold, and he delivered on that promise. However, Darnold headed into this offseason with limited experience among his backups. Morgan, a Florida International product, was drafted in the fourth round after playing two years at the southern Florida school, posting 5,375 passing yards and 40 passing TDs — third most in program history. Morgan's youth and successful experience in two different programs show his ability to adapt to new teams, coaches and schemes. The QB room suffered Darnold's bout with mono and backup Trevor Siemian's season-ending ankle injury. The struggles to provide first-half consistency at the position affected other areas of the team. With a solid base in Darnold as the starter and Morgan coming in to compete for backup, the QB room will look much different this year.